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How to Spot Errors That Add Value to Stamps
Every avid stamp collector dreams of sitting on a stamp or two that has something so unique about it that it is amazingly valuable. There is a difference between wondering if you have a stamp that meets the criteria and actually knowing what to look for. This article will help you to become a little more knowledgeable about spotting errors that add value.
Understand how errors happen.They can occur at any and all stages of stamp production. Design errors, errors from using the wrong paper, colour errors, inverted center errors and perforation errors are only some of the kinds of errors that are known.
Understand the rationale behind valuing stamps with flaws.Errors are often discovered quickly, even before the stamp leaves the printing plant, but some may remain unnoticed for many years. Some are quickly corrected, or the stamp is completely withdrawn from circulation. Other errors affect only one stamp in a large sheet. These result in a relative scarcity of the stamp compared to its normal counterpart. Occasionally both the flawed stamp the normal version are still produced in large quantities to prevent speculation.
Understand the difference between constant and ephemeral errors.Many old stamps have been extensively studied by specialists, who have found numerous differences that allow a person to determine the exact position of the stamp on the printed sheet. "Flyspecks" because of dust on the printing plates, or "donuts" because of an air bubble on an offset printing plate are not as valuable as more dramatic errors or errors that were constant throughout the stamp's print run.
Look for an inverted center image.Some stamps used to require a second or third manual feed through the printing press after changing the ink in the press. When the sheet was accidentally fed upside-down for its second passage through the press, an inverted centre would result. A very famous example of this type error is the 24 cent United States airmail stamp of 1918, the "Inverted Jenny", which shows the airplane upside down. Only one sheet of this stamp is known to have escaped into the public. Because the position of each stamp on the sheet had already been identified, when one of these suddenly appeared on the market it was proved that it had been stolen many years before.
Look for overprinting errors.Errors and odd quirks can arise due to overprinting. For example, during a time of a change in postal rates and insufficient time to print new stamps, stamps of one denomination may have a figure designating the new denomination printed over the old one. One famous example is that of the "Molly Pitcher" on the regular two cent United States stamp in commemoration of her work at the Battle of Monmouth. This method eliminated the engraving and printing of a new stamp, thereby saving costs and paper.
Watch for intentional errors.Governments and individuals have been known to produce errors intentionally in order to profit from stamp collectors. It can be very difficult to prove but where it has been, you will find this information in reputable stamp guides and stamp catalogues.
QuestionI have a stamp with printing mistake. How much is it worth?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerMisprinted stamps can be worth a lot but so much depends on which stamp, which country and which era, that it is nigh on impossible to state any value. It also doesn't help that you haven't said which stamp. It might be valuable, it might be scrap, you'll need to do some research on the relevant stamp.Thanks!
QuestionI have 2 full books and 2 single stamps that came from another book of 29-cent wood duck stamps. Each book contained 2 strips of 10 stamps each. A vertical yellow line is printed across the last 2 stamps on the back strip of each book. Due to apparent scarcity, would this be a valuable error?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt depends upon your citizenship and country. You can ask the letter department or seek help from the post office.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I find the value of my old stamps?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTry researching individual stamps on the internet. Also, look into local philatelic clubs who will usually provide valuations of your collection, for a minor fee.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I tell if my stamps are worth anything?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerHave your collection valued by a local philatelic society or research them on the internet. It is worth joining a philatelic club if you are interested in stamps, you never know, your stamp may be worth something.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I tell if my stamp are worth anything?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou can research individual stamps on the internet to get a general idea of the worth of the stamp. Alternatively, to get a pricing on your entire collection, you should research into your local philatelic society. Philatelic clubs and societies will usually provide valuations of your collection. Auctions can be another good place to have your collection valued.Thanks!
QuestionI have four British stamps about 12 years old with perforations going all across the pictures. Are they valuable?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThey could be. You should research the individual stamps and see their value (on the internet). Also see if you can get them checked out by a philatelics expert, there are usually clubs in most areas.Thanks!
QuestionIs it better to save the stamps attached to the envelopes?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, if the stamp is already on an envelope, then it would be better to keep it attached.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I tell if my stamp is misprinted?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerLook for errors that appear on the stamp, such a dot that shouldn't be there, and compare it to another stamp of the same kind to look for inconsistencies.Thanks!
I have a stamp showing a building and what appears to be a mail box with flowers in right corner black on white perf 21 by 11 1/2 the only lettering is posta on the mail box. What is it?
If I have a non-circulated British postage stamp, how can I find its value?
How do I get my stamps appraised?
Where can I see pictures of Franklin from highest value to lowest?
- This article relates to the old gum and paper stamps. The new adhesive stamps are produced using modern methods and machinery, so it is not yet known if errors are likely to be an issue with these types of stamps.
- Be careful of forgeries. In many cases the same processes that produce errors can be applied to produce forgeries. A skilled forger with a normal version of a two-colour stamp can carefully cut out the center of such a stamp, turn it around and glue it back in in a way that will easily fool the unwary.
- Inverted-centre or shifted-centre stamps from some countries were never intended for public distribution. They were printers' wastes that had been put in the trash when the misprint was spotted. The trash was not securely destroyed, and the wastes subsequently found their way to market after being taken from the trash.
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