US Stamps

By Charles Snee

$2 Bobcat mistakenly paired with 37¢ Flag during rate change

June 23, 2014 06:50 AM

  • The $2 Bobcat stamp on this 2006 cover, mailed Jan. 25, a couple of weeks after the first-class rate rose from 37¢ to 39¢, likely was mistaken for a 2¢ stamp by the sender. Alternatively, perhaps the addressee’s name, “Magnificat,” was the source of inspiration for the use of the stamp picturing the short-tailed feline.

Longtime readers of Dollar-Sign Stamps know that I have a fondness for postal history showing dollar-denominated stamps mistakenly used as 1¢ or 2¢ stamps.

This postage error is often encountered in the weeks following a rate change, when low-denomination stamps are often needed to satisfy the new first-class letter rate.

Illustrated nearby is a splendid example of a heavyweight stamp pulling lightweight duty: a 1990 $2 Bobcat stamp (Scott 2482) is paired with a 2002 37¢ Flag coil stamp (3632).

Apparently the $2 Bobcat was erroneously used as a 2¢ stamp not long after the first-class rate rose from 37¢ to 39¢. The cover was postmarked in Detroit Jan. 25, 2006, just 17 days after the 39¢ rate went into effect Jan. 8.

Using a high-denomination stamp in this manner is typically the result of inattention — the user focuses on the denomination number, a “2” in this case, to the exclusion of the all-important dollar sign.

In the case of the $1 Wisdom stamp of 2003 (Scott 3766), the “$” symbol is so small that it is very easy to overlook.

In fact, most of the over-franked covers I have seen during the past decade or so bear $1 Wisdom stamps in place of 1¢ stamps.

Note that the dollar sign on the $2 Bobcat stamp is almost as large as the “2” to its right. One would have to be in quite a hurry to avoid seeing it.

Because of this, it is quite possible that the $2 Bobcat on the cover shown here was used deliberately.

One reasonable explanation comes from Henrik Rossell of Maryland, the reader who brought the cover to my attention.

“Going through a box of covers from an institution,” he writes, “I came across this cover from a rate increase period which is severely overpaid. Please note the connection with the $2.00 stamp and the company title.”

I admit that until I read Mr. Rossell’s comment, the address on the cover did not strike me as a potential source of inspiration for the sender.

Then it hit me: the cover is addressed to “Magnificat.”

Perhaps the sender was puckishly paying tribute to the short-tailed feline as a “magnificat.”

A quick Internet search revealed that Magnificat is a monthly Catholic spiritual guide published in Yonkers, N.Y.

Or perhaps what we have here is nothing more than a happy philatelic coincidence.

Regardless of the circumstances that prompted the sender to use the $2 Bobcat stamp, the end result is a very collectible piece of modern postal history.

Linn’s welcomes information dealing with U.S. dollar-denominated definitive and commemorative stamps. Write to Dollar-Sign Stamps, Box 29, Sidney, OH 45365.