US Stamps

Jay Bigalke

Magic sheet errors and freaks

August 20, 2018 09:30 AM

  • An example of The Art of Magic souvenir sheet of three stamps with die cutting omitted. This error sheet was sold in early August by the U.S. Postal Service at APS Stampshow in Columbus, Ohio.
  • A normal example of The Art of Magic souvenir sheet of three is shown at left. The freak example in the middle has a thin horizontal black line through the middle of the stamp design. The sheet at right has a heavy black background displacing the tan color. All three were purchased online by the author on the Aug. 7 issue date.

By Jay Bigalke

The United States Postal Service issued its three-stamp The Art of Magic souvenir sheet Aug. 7. The sheet has a lenticular lamination that creates the illusion of motion on the stamps by showing a rabbit coming out of a magician’s hat and then disappearing.

So if the rabbit can disappear, why not the die cuts, too?

Error versions of the sheets with all die cuts absent were discovered just days after the souvenir sheets were issued in Las Vegas, Nev.

With special production elements added to the printing process, errors were almost bound to happen — and a few unusual production freaks have been found as well.

There was great buzz about the new Magic stamps at the American Philatelic Society Stampshow 2018 in Columbus, Ohio, which opened only two days after the souvenir sheet was issued.

The first supply of the souvenir sheets sent to the stamp show quickly sold out, but word traveled quickly around the show floor that error examples had been found.

Three individuals stopped by the Linn’s booth at the show to report that they bought sheets missing all die cuts at the Postal Service booth.

One collector said he was at the Postal Service booth and overheard someone trying to return a sheet because without the die cuts they couldn’t get the individual stamps to peel off.

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The collector quickly offered to purchase the error pane from the original buyer and they agreed. The sheet with no die cuts is pictured on page 1.

Two other collectors bought a quantity of the souvenir sheets that did not have die cuts. Linn’s estimates that approximately 50 error sheets were sold at the show. It is possible others were sold but not reported.

A second shipment of souvenir sheets sent to the show also sold out rapidly. One collector told Linn’s that he had heard a large part of that second shipment also was found to have no die cuts, but that these sheets were not sold by the postal clerks.

Scott catalog editors examined the no-die-cut The Art of Magic souvenir sheet and confirmed that the error will be listed in Vol. 1 of the 2020 Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue to be released in April 2019.

Linn’s received a report from a collector the week after the show that he had a sheet with the die cuts shifted to the right, causing the die cuts to be placed within the design of the stamp.

Stamps exhibiting that type of die cut shift are usually classified as freaks and normally are not listed in the Scott catalog.

A different freak was found in stamps that I ordered from USPS Stamp Fulfillment Services on the issue date.

Black marks appeared on some of the sheets delivered to me, ranging from a thin horizontal black line through the center of the stamp designs, to a massive black background that overpowers the tan color behind the rabbit.

The printing freaks on these sheets were found in varying degrees over the course of 25 sheets in a deck of 100.

Pictured above is a normal souvenir sheet of stamps at left, the sheet with one thin black line in the middle, and the freak with the larger black background at bottom.

Linn’s is interested in hearing of any other production issues collectors might find on this sheet. Send scans via email, or contact us first before sending anything through the mail.

The Art of Magic souvenir sheet technical details were published by the Postal Service Aug. 16 and are included in the box on this page.

A total of 500,000 souvenir sheets were printed and are currently available for purchase from the USPS only through its website, or by phone order at 1-800-STAMP-24.