BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A collector credits a hunch with helping him land one of just 100 sheets of stamps recently issued by the United States Postal Service featuring a corrected version of its rare and famous error, the 1918 "inverted Jenny."
Art Van Riper bought the stamps in Waverly, N.Y., after reading that the postal service had printed a new batch of inverted Jenny stamps celebrating the 95-year-old edition that, by mistake, featured an upside-down biplane.
He also read that, as a way to draw more people into stamp collecting, the postal service randomly distributed 100 sheets featuring the plane right-side up among the 2.2 million sheets replicating the original and distributed nationwide.
"I needed some stamps and thought 'what the heck,'" Van Riper said by phone earlier in December from his Sayre, Pa., home, on the New York border. "I just had a feeling that maybe there would be one in Waverly."
He intended to purchase five sheets of the $2 stamps, at $12 a sheet, and use them to mail Christmas presents and for stocking stuffers. Postal clerk Betty Gable convinced him to take more.
"I told him our office had 45 and he might as well buy them all," she said. The last one would probably be the one with the right-side up airplane, she told him.
"I'll be a son-of-a-gun it was," said Van Riper, who has a jewelry store and said he collects oddities ranging from baseball cards to old steins.
Van Riper's was the fourth of the 100 sheets to turn up since the post office launched the campaign in September, USPS spokesman Mark Saunders said. One of the four is listed at $25,000 online, Van Riper said, but he doesn't have plans to sell his sheet.
Among stamp collectors, the inverted Jenny, produced by a printing error, is gold. Only one sheet of 100 stamps commemorating the nation's first airmail flight was sold. One of the stamps recently sold for $977,000, according to the post office.
Rush to register weapons, ammo: Connecticut gun owners are rushing to register certain firearms and ammunition that will be considered illegal contraband in the new year. People have been lining up since early Sunday at the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection's headquarters in Middletown in recent days to turn in applications for assault weapons certificates and high-capacity magazine declaration forms so they can legally keep the items. Under a wide-ranging gun control law, passed earlier this year in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting in Newtown, gun owners have until Tuesday to submit the paperwork.
Car plows into bedroom, killing man: Authorities said a man arrested after a fatal car crash into the front of a Southern California home was convicted in 2010 of driving under the influence. Orange County Sheriff's Lt. Jeff Hallock said authorities were called shortly after 3 a.m. Sunday after a suspected drunk driver drove a car into the front bedroom of a house in Mission Viejo. Hallock said a man lying in bed was killed in the crash. He was not immediately identified. Hallock said 27-year-old Kourosh Keshmiri has been arrested for investigation of driving under the influence.
Suspect in three slayings captured: A monthlong hunt for Harry Carl Mapps, accused of killing three people in Colorado and then setting a house on fire to cover it up, has ended with his capture in Oklahoma. Mapps, 59, was arrested at a motel in Roland, Okla., on Saturday night, authorities said Sunday. Mapps faces charges of first-degree murder and arson in the shooting deaths of Kim and Reggie Tuttle and their adult daughter, Dawn Roderick. Their bodies were found in the Tuttles' home in the southern Colorado town of Rye after it was damaged by fire on Nov. 27.
Saudis strengthen ties elsewhere: Increasingly vocal in its frustration over U.S. policies in the Mideast, Saudi Arabia is strengthening ties elsewhere, seeking out an alignment that will bolster its position after it was pushed to the sidelines this year. It may find a solution in France, whose president is ending the year with 24 hours of high-level meetings with the Saudi leadership in a visit intended to showcase commercial and diplomatic strength. With an entourage of French executives from the lucrative defense and energy sectors, President Francois Hollande arrived Sunday in Riyadh for a flurry of accords and contracts that have been in the works for months. The two countries also find themselves unexpectedly aligned in resistance, if not outright opposition, to U.S. policy on Syria's civil war and Iran's nuclear program.
N. Ireland peace talks at vital point: The White House is urging leaders involved in peace talks over Northern Ireland to compromise because negotiations have failed to produce an agreement. White House spokesman Caitlin Hayden said the multiparty talks have reached a critical juncture. She said the goal is still to finish a deal before the year ends. Hayden said the U.S. is confident a deal can be reached if all sides have the political will to get there.