US Stamps

Reporting on U.S. stamp freaks

May 16, 2023, 10 AM

Philatelic Foreword by Jay Bigalke

Reports of errors on United States stamps are few and far between, and at Linn’s, we do our best to report on new finds that come to our attention.

What we are unable to report on in a complete fashion are items classified as freaks.

For background, the Scott catalog defines an error as: “Stamps that have some major, consistent, unintentional deviation from the normal are considered errors. Errors include, but are not limited to, missing or wrong colors, wrong paper, wrong watermarks, inverted centers or frames on multicolor printing, inverted or missing surcharges or overprints, double impressions, missing perforations and others. Factually wrong or misspelled information, if it appears on all examples of a stamp, are not considered errors in the true sense of the word. They are errors of design.”

The definition continues to describe the type of items I am discussing in this column, “Inconsistent or randomly appearing items, such as misperfs or color shifts, are classified as freaks.”

There are a lot of variables to freaks that make them difficult to catalog. But these stamps can be fun, too.

Two collectors recently brought to my attention two different U.S. stamp issues with perforations where they don’t belong. I am writing about these so collectors can watch for similar items to perhaps add to their collections.

The first is a misperforated example of the new 2023 Tulip Blossoms booklet pane of 20 found by Niko Courtelis, who works as a stamp dealer with Uptown Stamp Show in Oregon.

“I purchased two panes over the counter at my local PO a few days after the stamp was released, both have the perforation shift,” Courtelis told Linn’s in an email.

On the eight-stamp side of the pane, the horizontal die cuts are just at the top of the tulip stems. In order to be classified as an error, those horizontal die cuts need to be completely missing.

The second recently found misperforation is credited to Raymond Radovic of Ohio, who bought a pane of 2022 Flag stamps at a local grocery store. He said, “As my wife was using the stamps on our mail, she commented that some of the stamps peeled off the pane in two pieces.”

Radovic was able to save a block of four from the pane, which is shown above. The horizontal die cuts drifted up much farther from where they belonged and are along the bottom of the field of stars on the top stamps. The result is one tiny stamp at top and a much larger one below.

While Linn’s hasn’t written about such perforation freaks that often in the past, they are more common than one might expect. For each new booklet pane stamp issued in recent years, a couple of similar examples seem to have gotten out.

While the value of a freak isn’t the same as an error, it still commands a premium over the face value, just not that much more depending on the topic of the stamp.

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