US Stamps

Persistence can pay off in correcting an expertizing opinion

Jun 9, 2021, 11 AM

U.S. Stamp Notes by John M. Hotchner

How would you describe the 2000 United States 33¢ Coral Pink Rose booklet shown front and back in Figure 1?

The horizontal die cuts are normal on both sides of the booklet pane, but the vertical die cuts are not where you would expect them to be, which is down the center between the two vertical rows of stamps. Instead they are on the right edge looking at the booklet pane from the front. Turning the pane over to the 12-stamp side, the die cuts are on the left.

When the pane was first submitted for expertizing by the original owner in 2001, the opinion came back as follows: “Unused O(riginal)G(um). Complete booklet pane of twenty, plate no. S111, Imperforate vertically between stamps. And we are of the opinion that: It is a genuine booklet of Scott 3052f, miscut causing the split of the vertical die cutting giving the appearance of being imperforate between.”

This description was accepted by the owner, and more importantly, by the editors of the Scott catalog who apparently used this error as the basis for two listings: 3052Ei, described as “Horiz. Pair, die cutting missing between (PS)” and 3052Ej, a full booklet pane “with die cutting missing between (PS).” The PS stands for perforation shift, or in this case a die-cut shift.

The original expertizing finding was at best confusing, and the Scott descriptions at least partially based upon it were wrong.

When I bought the booklet in 2018, I consulted the Scott catalog, and the first thing I noticed was that it attributed the error to a die-cut shift. The problem is that there is no shift of the vertical die cuts. They are in the margins where they are supposed to be.

Indeed it is evident from the way the label on the front of the booklet pane is bisected, that the booklet is miscut as noted in the 2001 opinion and it is not a pane where the die cuts have been shifted. Figure 2 shows the front of a normal booklet pane for comparison.

Stamp collectors being nothing if not sticklers for precision, I resubmitted the item for a revised, correct opinion. And I paid the $51 fee because it had been nearly 20 years since the original, incorrect opinion. I also included this note to the expert committee: “Miscut booklet — die cuts are in their proper place but miscut puts them on the right edge; leaving the center vertical margin imperf. This is obvious from the miscut label at the bottom. So, what we have is 3052Ei as a full booklet, but NOT from a perf shift.”

In due course, the new certificate came back stating “complete booklet pane of twenty, plate no. S111, vertical die cutting missing between stamps due to a perforation shift.”

To read the rest of John Hotchner’s story about this unusual pane, subscribe to Linn’s Stamp News.

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