Absentee Florida ballot sent with precious stamp
MIAMI (Reuters) - A Florida voter may have unwittingly lost hundreds of thousands of dollars by using an extremely rare stamp to mail an absentee ballot in Tuesday's congressional election, a government official said on Friday.
The 1918 Inverted Jenny stamp, which takes its name from an image of a biplane accidentally printed upside-down, turned up on Tuesday night in Fort Lauderdale, where election officials were inspecting ballots from parts of south Florida, Broward County Commissioner John Rodstrom told Reuters.
Only 100 of the stamps have ever been found, making them one of the top prizes of all philately.
Rodstrom, a member of the county's Canvassing Board, said he spotted the red and blue Inverted Jenny on a large envelope with two stamps from the 1930s and another dating to World War Two.
The nominal value of the four vintage U.S. Post Office stamps was 87 cents, he said.
"I thought, 'Oh my God, I know that stamp, I've seen that stamp before,"' said Rodstrom, 54, who dabbled in stamp collecting as a boy. "I'd forgotten the name. I just remembered there was a stamp with an upside-down biplane on it and that it was a very rare, rare stamp."
Rodstrom said he did not examine the envelope's postmark, but it had no return address and the ballot was disqualified because it gave no clue as to the identity of the voter.
Election officials have been too busy certifying the outcome of Tuesday's race to have the stamp authenticated, Rodstrom said.
A block of four of the stamps sold for almost $3 million last year, however, and Rodstrom said the one that turned up Tuesday night could fetch about $500,000 for Broward County at auction.
"It's now government property," he said.
A postmark on a stamp usually would hurt its value but Rodstrom said the story behind this one -- plus the fact that it is joined by other old stamps on the envelope -- might actually increase its worth.
Rodstrom said he doubted the stamp would ever be handed over to someone claiming to have mailed it inadvertently.
"It would be hard to prove, I guess you would have to say it was a person who had Alzheimer's," he said.