C3a Giveaway

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John Shedlock of California is the winner of the StampWants.com C3a Inverted Jenny stamp!

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Mark Rosenberg (StampWants.com President), John Shedlock (Winner of the C3a) and Miss New Jersey (Amy Polumbo)

The StampWants.com C3a Giveaway announcement was scheduled to begin at 2:00pm on Saturday - January 12, at the front of the APS Ameristamp Expo in Charlotte, North Carolina. As the StampWants.com staff and Miss New Jersey (Amy Polumbo) prepared for the event, to the pleasant surprise of all - the StampWants.com Traveling Mousepad (TM for short) appeared! TM was started when StampWants.com member Doug Noernberg won a StampWants.com C3a Mousepad in the Summer of 2007 shortly before his participation in the Cleveland American Heart Association HeartWalk. He had taken the mousepad with him during his walk, and then took pictures of it all around Cleveland. The pictures were a hit with StampWants.com members, and TM then began traveling to different StampWants.com members and visiting different locations. The full story and pictures of the TM's travels can be found here: TM's_Gallery

After the TM posed for pictures with Miss New Jersey, the C3a and StampWants.com President Mark Rosenberg, the StampWants.com staff, Miss New Jersey and the C3a headed over to the front area to finish setting up and begin the announcement. At this time balloons were brought over from the StampWants.com booth to the front area. The Convention Center staff then demanded that the balloons be immediately removed from the Convention Center, because helium balloons are not allowed due to the high ceilings. The balloons were moved into the hall, with lower ceilings, but the Convention Center staff demanded that the balloons immediately be popped! The balloons were popped in the hall as the StampWants.com staff made final preparations for the C3a Inverted Jenny Giveaway.

At 2:00pm, StampWants.com President, Mark Rosenberg, was introduced by Bob Prager of Gary Posner, Inc. (Gary Posner, Inc. is a part owner of StampWants.com). Mark went over the history of StampWants.com, and how StampWants.com was started to provide a safe and affordable community and marketplace for all stamp collectors and dealers. Originally intended to become the number one destination for philatelists with over 20,000 members (15,000 more than before the C3a Giveaway started), and over 500,000 stamp listings, StampWants.com is well on it's way to achieving this goal. Mark then went on to explain how about a year ago StampWants.com began exploring different ideas on how to bring even more people to StampWants.com, and more people the the hobby of philately in general. Around this same time there was a great deal of media attention being given to the fake C3a Inverted Jenny on a Florida ballot. As Mark Rosenberg explain - "what better way to bring attention to our site and the hobby in general than by giving away arguably to most famous stamp in the world - the C3a Inverted Jenny."

After Mark Rosenberg's history of StampWants.com and the StampWants.com C3a Giveaway, Miss New Jersey took the stage. She explained that there were almost one million entries into the giveaway (entrants could enter up to once per day for the last year), and that earlier in the week out of all of these entries two finalists were randomly chosen. They were quickly contacted in order to fly them into the APS Ameristamp Expo in Charlotte, North Carolina. This was done in order to have the winner be live at the show. Miss New Jersey then introduced the two finalists, who then gave brief biographies about themselves, as well as explained when and how they got into stamp collecting (they are both avid stamp collectors).

Mark Rosenberg then went over the history of the C3a Inverted Jenny- which started with U.S. Airmail test flights in the 1910's. May 15, 1918 was chosen by the United States Post Office to inaugurate regular U.S. Airmail, and production of the first Airmail stamp hastily began. Engraving only started on May 4, with printing beginning a little over a week later on May 10. The printing process used was a two color process, where the stamps were fed into printing presses twice - an error prone process which had caused invert errors between 1869 and 1901. On May 14, a collector - W.T. Robey went to the post office thinking that he may find some invert errors. Invert errors was exactly what he did find when the post office clerk presented him with an entire sheet of inverts. Robey quickly purchased the stamps and asked to see more, but no other errors were found. Mark Rosenberg explained that many people often wonder why the clerk staring at the same sheet as Robey didn't notice the error, but legend has it that since it was only 1918, the clerk later stated that he had never seen a plane before, so how was he to know it was upside-down!

The story of the C3a continued with Robey hiding the stamps from postal inspectors in the week to follow and then quickly selling it to Eugene Klein - a dealer from Philadelphia for $15,000. Klein in turn sold it to H.R. Green for $20,000. Green then began breaking up the sheet into blocks and singles and ever since then the C3a has become a part of philatelic history and admired by and desired by every stamp collector the world over.

After Mark Rosenberg concluded the story of the C3a, he explained the process of the live drawing to determine the winner. A bingo ball wheel would be used, which normally has 75 balls, but the 75th ball was removed to leave 37 even balls and 37 odd balls. It was pre-determined that John Shedlock would be even because his StampWants username - shedlojr had the id number of 108968, an even number. Michael Flanagan was pre-determined to be the odd ball with his username mikey1st and id number of 102005. Mark Rosenberg joked that Michael shouldn't feel too bad for being the odd ball, "I'm sure you're not the only odd ball here, so don't worry!"

Miss New Jersey then spun the bingo ball wheel 11 times (her number in the Miss America pageant), and I-22 was selected. I-22 being an even number, the famous C3a Inverted Jenny instantly had a new home with even numbered John Shedlock! John, a retired CIA agent from Alta Loma, California, accepted the C3a Inverted Jenny in shock, and pulled out a speech he had written in case he had won, thanking StampWants.com for the once in a lifetime opportunity to own the Inverted Jenny, as well as Miss New Jersey. He was shocked and excited, and said he felt "shock and awe" over winning the stamp. He had entered the giveaway around 150 times but never thought he would actually win. He was later asked if he would keep the stamp or sell it because of tax reasons - he said that it is a piece of history and he will honor the stamp and definitely keep it for at least a year, if not more.

After posing for pictures with John and the C3a, Mark Rosenberg took the microphone again and made the first of two surprise announcements. First, as a consolation prize to being the runner-up of the C3a Giveaway Michael Flanagan was presented with a beautiful set of Mint Zeppelins, worth around $1,500. Michael accepted his prize and said that the Zeppelins were the only items he needed to complete his U.S. Airmail collection, and that he was very excited to finally own them, as they had been out of his price range for collecting for so long.

Next, Miss New Jersey, who had played Ariel the Little Mermaid in Disney World for over a year was presented with a Ariel U.S. First Day Cover. Miss New Jersey was very surprised and began to cry as she accepted her First Day Cover. The ceremony then wrapped up as it was announced that Miss New Jersey would be signing autographs back at the StampWants.com booth, and that if anyone was a member of stamp club or other organization and wanted to take back StampWants.com C3a Inverted Jenny mousepads for their group to stop by the StampWants.com booth and pick up as many as they wanted. A final reminder to enjoy the food and drinks that StampWants.com had provided for the event was made, and the ceremony came to a conclusion.

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