World Stamps

Spelling error leads to two versions of new Czech Republic sheet

Apr 28, 2021, 7 PM

By Denise McCarty

The Czech Republic recently issued two versions of a souvenir sheet due to a spelling mistake in a Latin inscription.

The souvenir sheet commemorates the 700th birth anniversary of Charles IV. Born May 14, 1316, he was crowned king of Bohemia in 1346 and holy Roman emperor in 1355.

On the original version of the sheet, his name is inscribed as “Karolus Quatrus” in Latin in the lower left selvage of the sheet. The mistake of the Latin word for fourth, “quartus,” misspelled as “quatrus” was soon noticed.

Connect with Linn’s Stamp News: 

    Sign up for our newsletter
    Like us on Facebook
    Follow us on Twitter

The sheet was issued May 4, and on the next day, May 5, Czech Post reported the mistake, adding that the souvenir sheet would be withdrawn from sale and a new version produced.

Czech Post said, “The letters R and T in the name KAROLUS QUARTUS were mistakenly transposed to from QUATRUS. With respect to the significance of Charles IV, Czech Post decided to reprint the miniature sheet in the correct way.”

Czech Post has not announced the issue date of the corrected version of the sheet with the inscription “Karolus Quatrus,” but used examples from mid-May are known.

Because there were no mistakes on the stamp itself, Czech Post did not let them go to waste. Czech Post said that it would remove the stamps from the unsold souvenir sheets, and that they “will be used in another way for postal purposes.” 

The quantity printed of souvenir sheets with the corrected text was 35,000; and 54,500 were produced of the first version. Not known is how many examples of the first version were returned after the error was discovered.

With the exception of the new inscription in the lower left selvage, the two sheets should be identical.

Each sheet includes a  54-koruna stamp and two perforated labels.

The image of Charles IV shown on the stamp is based on contemporary portraits. His initials in the upper left of the stamp are from the 1348 charter establishing Charles University of Prague.

The small label below the stamp represents some of the king’s work supporting agriculture and the economy, specifically the creation of vineyards and ponds. The larger label at the bottom of the sheet shows the king handing the deed of foundation to St. Wenceslas.

Additional images related to Charles IV and his accomplishments are shown in the selvage, including the Old Town, St. Vitus Cathedral, and Charles Bridge building projects in Prague.

Jan Kavan designed the stamp and souvenir sheet, and Milos Ondracek engraved the design. 

The Post Printing House in Prague printed the sheets by muliticolored offset combined with one-color (black) intaglio.

Related articles:

Stamp design glitches? They’re a part of collecting history

Errors, freaks, oddities and blunders: from the sublime to the ridiculous

Mistakes found on map stamps of the British Virgin Islands