US Stamps

Remembering Leonard Sherman and the Hammarskjold issue

May 3, 2021, 10 PM

The strangest things manage to make it through the mail in place of postage. The example pictured here reflects what was, at the time, a huge philatelic story that got significant play in the daily nonphilatelic press.

The faux stamp on the postcard was canceled Oct. 19, 1964, and mimics the 4¢ Dag Hammar­skjold stamp issued Oct. 23, 1962 (Scott 1203). More than 120 million of that stamp were produced and distributed.

That stamp became world famous when a collector, Leonard Sherman of Irvington, N.J., discovered a pane of 50 with the yellow inverted.

Others around the country made similar discoveries, but the press release focused on Sherman.

In response, the U.S. Post Office Department decided that every collector should have the opportunity to own an invert, and forthwith produced 40,270,000 of them, issued Nov. 16, 1962 (Scott 1204).

In doing so, the U.S. Post Office Department simultaneously added significant income to its coffers, destroyed the value of the inverts found from the normal printing, and enraged a good share of the stamp collecting community.

The knock-off on the postcard was created as a protest. Its text reads, “Honoring Leonard Sherman, stamp collector who found the Dag Hammarskjold ‘off register’ commemorative sheets and got shafted by the U.S. Government when it printed millions more.”

I have seen non-invert varieties of the normal stamp where the yellow is misregistered, and they are far more scarce than the inverts, but color misregistrations don’t get catalog listings.


Boston, Mass., had a population of about 700,000 in 1915 when the postcard shown here was mailed to Germany. World War I had begun, but the United States was not yet a combatant, so mail was not embargoed.

Despite the volume of mail that must have been sent from Boston, perhaps Germany was an unusual international address at this time. Certainly, I have never seen another postcard or letter with the circled red “C,” and I wonder if it has postal meaning.

Could it indicate censoring?

If anyone among Linn’s readership can explain this marking, please contact me, John Hotchner, Box 1125, Falls Church, VA 22041; or by e-mail at


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