The Inverted Jenny

Mar 31, 2021

In 1918, when the first U.S. stamp to feature an airplane was issued, printing the red and blue design was a two-step process. A sheet for a hundred stamps got run through the press once for the red border, then through the press a second time for the blue Curtis JN-4 airplane it surrounded. The process was ripe for error; pass the sheet through the wrong way the second time around and you got upside-down airplanes – or an inverted border, depending on your point of view. Three such mistakes were allegedly made, caught and destroyed, but a fourth slipped through, and was purchased at a postal window by someone who knew exactly what he was looking for. If you spent more than a minute with stamps as a kid, like I did, you know all about the Inverted Jenny, the most illustrious philatelic slip-up of all time. There are only a hundred such stamps in existence, and at the prices they currently change hands for, you could pick up a nice selection of Picassos for the living room instead, if you were so inclined.

My Youtube video yesterday afternoon wasn't exactly the Inverted Jenny of live streams, but if you're one of the 252 people who caught my rough draft of today's appearance, well, maybe Sotheby's will be interested in your memoirs someday. After going live on an impulse, I realized it was kind of dumb to do so without letting anyone know about it, so after wrapping up, I set the video to "Private," determined to try again today with a little more advance notice. Only I didn't set it to private, if you see what I mean, because it takes two steps to do so in Youtube and I only did the first step. And I didn't figure out what had happened – or actually, not happened – until later last night, at which point the video had been in circulation for some time.

I wish I could say the upshot was there are now 252 videos out there of me teaching upside down, but that's not quite the case. What I can say is that this afternoon, I'll be streaming live to talk about the song I'll be teaching this coming month in The Fingerstyle Five, "Nobody's Fault But Mine." I'll play through the tune in the steady-bass style, then take a little time to talk about how the melody fits over the bass, how the arrangement is put together, and how I'm thinking about improvising on it.

Registration for The Fingerstyle Five is open through Thursday night, and if you've got questions about it, I'll be glad to answer them this afternoon as well. I go live at 2:30pm Central and you can join me at the link below:

Preview – Nobody's Fault But Mine