The USA’s Dag Hammarskjöld invert stamp error

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02 March 2020
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The USA’s Dag Hammarskjöld invert of 1962 was a rare error when it was first discovered… but not for long, as the nation's pragmatic Postmaster soon put a stop to the fun, as our stamp guide reveals

To the casual observer the USA’s Dag Hammarskjöld invert of 1962 looks just fine, but to those in the know, the yellow ink is upside down.

For this particular example the US Postmaster of the time, General J. Edward Day, spoilt the fun, demanding that millions more examples of the yellow invert should be printed, commenting:

‘The Post Office Department is not running a jackpot operation.’

The episode is known as ‘Day’s Folly’ and was of particular annoyance to New Jersey jeweller, Leonard Sherman, who had discovered a sheet of original inverted ‘Dag Hammarskjold’ stamps.

According to the New York Times when more than 40 million errors were ordered to be printed to flood the market, Mr Sherman requested a court injunction to prevent the deliberate inverts being issued.

Sadly for him he was too late and the value of his sheet quickly disappeared.

‘He dropped his legal action once he realized it would be of little use,’ the report explains. ‘But Mr. Sherman did obtain an affidavit to verify that his sheet was the original printing.’ Sherman later donated the original error sheet to the American Philatelic Society.

There are still a few rare examples; an invert error on a first day cover, proving that the stamp was from the original printing, sold in 2005 for $3,500. Thankfully not everyone was as diligent as General Day, and there are many rarer inverts for us to track down.

Read more about invert stamp errors in the April 2020 issue of Stamp Collector.