Eager Voter Sticks Rare Stamp on Absentee Ballot
ANDREA SEABROOK, host:
You know how it is when you mail a letter. You fumble around for stamps, maybe stick on some extra postage to make sure it doesn't get returned. Well, it looks like a Florida resident may have gone a little bit overboard. An absentee ballot received in Fort Lauderdale last Tuesday arrived with a very expensive stamp on it.
John Rodstrom is a commissioner from Broward County who noticed an extremely rare stamp on one of the envelopes. He joins us on the line.
Mr. JOHN RODSTROM (Broward County Commissioner, Florida): Good morning. How are you?
SEABROOK: So what did you find?
Mr. RODSTROM: We were at the point of the process where we were just disqualifying ballots for not having proper identification. And there was this particular ballot where I noticed the number of old stamps on it. And there was one stamp that jumped out at me in particular, and that was this inverted bi-plane. And I had had a stamp collection, I think, when I was about 15 years old and I remembered seeing that stamp. So I called my 14-year-old son and asked him to look at it on eBay and tell me what it was. And he came back and told me it was the Inverted Jenny.
SEABROOK: An Inverted Jenny.
Mr. RODSTROM: Yes.
SEABROOK: An upside down image of a bi-plane. It was printed in error in 1918 and only a hundred of these stamps have been found. So where did this one come from?
Mr. RODSTROM: Well, I think that's the great mystery. And I think also what's shrouded in mystery is the fact that there were other old stamps on the envelop. There was one from 1936 of the Grand Canyon. There was an Admiral Nimitz stamp. I mean, it's as if someone went into someone's top drawer and - or into their stamp collection and found these stamps and put them on the envelope. Because they needed a total of 87 cents and the Inverted Jenny was only 24 cents of the total.
SEABROOK: Now, how much is the Inverted Jenny actually worth?
Mr. RODSTROM: They say there was a four sheet, four stamps that sold for 2.9 million. And the most recent one, I think, sold for about 550,000.
SEABROOK: So not 24 cents but half a million dollars is how much this stamp is worth.
Mr. RODSTROM: Yeah. And the question is, typically once a stamp is cancelled, it's not worth as much as it was previously. However, given the story behind this, it could be worth anything.
SEABROOK: Now, this you say was on a ballot that was disqualified.
Mr. RODSTROM: Yes.
SEABROOK: It had no identification.
Mr. RODSTROM: None.
SEABROOK: So what happens now? What do you do with the ballot?
Mr. RODSTROM: Well, the law says that the ballots have to be stored for 22 months and then destroyed. But the law really speaks to the ballot itself and not to the envelope or the stamps on it. I think the supervisor - we're going to certify the election on Monday. And I think once we get past the election, I think the supervisor then can deal with the issue of the stamp.
SEABROOK: John Rodstrom is a commissioner from Broward County who found an Inverted Jenny stamp from 1918 on an absentee ballot in Fort Lauderdale.
Thank you so much.
Mr. RODSTROM: Thank you. Have a good day.
SEABROOK: This is NPR News.
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