One of the rare US postage stamps, the famous red, white, and blue "Inverted Jenny" stamp, error printed in 1918 and which originally cost 24 cents, has sold at a New York auction, setting a record for the most expensive single US stamp sold.
The fame of this U.S. stamp printed in error is recognized by tens of millions of stamp collectors worldwide. Only 100 of these misprinted postage stamps were printed. The error is obvious - because the plane it depicts is printed in error upside down.
Stamp collector Charles Hack purchased it during an auction by Robert A Siegel Auction Galleries, based in New York City.
The 76-year-old told the Washington Post that he had been eyeing the coveted stamp since childhood, calling it the "holy grail of postage".
The Inverted Jenny stamp was part of a collection to mark the start of regular airmail service.
It features an image of the Curtiss JN-4 airplane in the center, though it is incorrectly printed upside down. Only 100 of those inverted stamps were sold to the public, and they have since become highly coveted by stamp collectors globally.
The stamp is so well-known that it once featured in a 1993 episode of the long-running American animated sitcom The Simpsons.
In it, Homer Simpson is seen looking at a sheet of Inverted Jennys while at a yard sale.
"The airplane's upside down," he says before throwing the sheet away in a pile of other priceless American artifacts, including a copy of the Declaration of Independence.
The stamp's value skyrocketed almost instantly after it was originally printed thanks to its rarity, and copies of it have sold at several auctions in recent decades.
Mr. Hack himself is the owner of a few other Jennys; he told the Washington Post. He bought one in the early 2000s for about $300,000 (£244,329).
Hack bought another, better-quality stamp for nearly $1M in 2007. It was the 57th stamp printed in the original sheet of 100.
The one most recently sold is number 49, which has long eluded aficionados of the Inverted Jenny as it had not been seen for a century since its original purchase in 1918.
Its owner and his descendants held it continuously in a bank vault before it was sold in 2018.
It is regarded as "one of the finest centered examples" of the Inverted Jenny, according to Siegel Auction Galleries, as it has rarely been exposed to light.
"The gum is Mint Never Hinged and, since its exposure to light has been limited, the stamp's colors are rich, and the paper is bright," Siegel Auction Galleries wrote in the stamp's description.
Mr. Hack told the Washington Post that he intends to continue the century-long tradition of protecting the stamp from light and preserving it, calling it a piece of "American history."