Imperforate error strip of 1998 Diana memorial issue sold

Sep 22, 2014, 6 AM

Great Britain’s 1998 stamp tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales, exists imperforate. This example, auctioned by Spink, includes the so-called traffic light imprint of circles in various colors.

Spink’s “Philatelic Collectors’ Series” sale, held July 9-11, featured some scarce British Empire items as well as a number of the modern British imperforate and missing-color errors that have been popular lately.

Most modern British commemoratives were printed using a handful or more of specially blended ink colors. This gives better quality results than standard four-color offset, and is harder to imitate. Unfortunately, the complexity of such printing has often resulted in a few sheets accidentally missing one or more colors. Sometimes the resulting error is dramatic in appearance, sometimes subtle.

The 9p stamp from the 1972 Anniversaries set, honoring the composer and conductor Ralph Vaughan Williams, exists with the deep slate color missing in error (Stanley Gibbons 903c, a variety of Scott 670).

In this case, the missing color led to the omission of some details from the conductor’s jacket. It is the rarest of the missing-color errors for this issue. This unused example, with a creased marginal tab attached, sold for $21,800.

Besides missing colors, missing perforations have also dogged modern British issues.

A completely imperforate se-tenant strip of five 26p stamps from the 1998 Diana memorial issue (Stanley Gibbons 2021ab, Scott 1795b) might be the most valuable of the myriad topical philatelic items honoring the late Princess of Wales, who died in a Paris car crash in 1997. The strip of five is also known partly perforated.

The strip in the Spink sale, which shows the so-called traffic light of colored circles in the bottom margin — one for each press color — went for $19,900.