Stamp collection pulls in $5 million

June 20th, 2009

A United States stamp depicting an upside-down electric car cost just 4 cents when it was issued in 1901.

A strip of four of those stamps fetched more than $300,000 during the auction this week of famously flawed postage stamps owned by the late Mt. Lebanon investment adviser, Robert H. Cunliffe.

The complete collection of 3,000 upside-down postage stamps -- considered the world's most comprehensive -- grossed $5,041,000 in the two-day auction, which closed yesterday and drew bidders from around the world.

Mr. Cunliffe, who died in April 2008 at age 83, left behind an assortment of inverted printed planes, cars, animals, U.S. presidents, landmarks and other designs.

Among the most expensive was a 1902 Russian, 35-kopek stamp purchased for $115,000 and a 1920 Belgian stamp bearing an inverted image of a town hall that sold for more than $150,000.

About 30 collectors bid in person while hundreds more watched the auction via the Internet from countries as far away as Spain, Russia, the United Kingdom and Germany.

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