Published on March 10th, 2017 | by Michelle Roper-Shaw
Stamp Collecting: Mistakes Make Money
Mistakes cost money, so the saying goes. Yet, in the world of stamp collecting, mistakes can make you money.
In recent years there has been growing uncertainty in the economy and financial markets. As a result, people are looking for alternative ways to invest their cash. In particular, many people have turned to collectible items, including stamps.
According to research carried out by the Queen’s bank, Coutts, classic cars are the current best performing collectible. Cars are closely followed by rare stamps and coins.
Now, for the majority of us, having the cash available to invest in a classic car is more of a pipe dream than reality. However, when it comes to stamps, if you know what to look for, you may find a real gem.
Philately Printing Blunders
In our previous article, The World’s Most Valuable Stamps, the impact a small printing error has on a stamp’s value was explained. The Swedish “Three Skilling Banco” from 1855 (shown in the picture above in the top right hand corner), was printed on yellow instead of blue-green paper. A very rare copy sold at auction for £1.5 million in 1996.
However, a valuable stamp does not necessarily have to be old. A 13p Christmas Stamp from 1988 is worth several thousand pounds. Its value is due to the fact that the stamp should have read 14p and the majority were pulped.
In 2001, a German stamp featuring a scene from the iconic film Breakfast at Tiffany’s was produced. Over 14 million were printed yet Audrey Hepburn’s son then refused copyright permission for the image of his mother to be used. Whilst the majority of the stamps were destroyed, those few that exist have sold for up to £147,000.
Errors, Freaks and Oddities
In philately circles, printing blunders are intriguingly known as errors, freaks or oddities (EFO). Each of these has their own particular characteristics.
- Error – These are stamps where a mistake has been made during the production process. They show serious mistakes that repeat, for example, a missing perforation, inverted design, spelling error, or the wrong colour. The US Inverted Jenny stamp of 1918 is one of the most famous examples (top left hand corner). With the Curtiss JN-4 airplane printed upside down.
- Freaks – These are stamps with less serious defects, where the variation is minor. This can be due to a paper fold during the printing process or perforations running diagonally across the stamp. Even an insect embedded on the paper under the ink.
- Oddities – These are stamps not considered to be an error or freak but more of a curiosity. Most commonly they involve the misregistration of a multi coloured stamp. The most famous example is the Canadian Christmas stamp of 1898. This stamp showed a map of the world with all of Great Britain’s territories in red. However, the stamp incorrectly depicted the whole of Europe, United States and central Asia in red.
Start Your Stamp Collection Today
If you are keen on starting a hobby in stamp collecting or maybe revisiting a collection you began as a child, the Post Office Shop is the place for you.
Stanley Gibbons is the world renowned authority on collectible stamps both as a dealer and philatelic publisher. Their Super Stamp Collector Starter Pack has everything you need to start your collection.
A good way to develop an extensive and unique collection is to collect stamps covering a particular subject or country. The Stanley Gibbons Stamp Collection Sets cover a wide range of subjects including; horses, butterflies, art, flowers and sport to name but a few. Each set contains 100 stamps.
Start your collection today and maybe one day it will hold your fortune.