US Stamps

USS Missouri stamps with die cuts omitted surface at navy base in Rota, Spain

Aug 21, 2019, 3 PM

By Charles Snee

Die-cutting-omitted errors of the United States USS Missouri forever stamp (Scott 5392) were discovered at a military post office in late July.

Linn’s reader Michael Moore, who works at the U.S. Naval Station in Rota, Spain, purchased four panes of 20 USS Missouri forever stamps at the base post office July 25.

When Moore had a chance to examine the panes more closely, he discovered that two of them appeared to be without the serpentine die cuts that allow individual stamps to be removed from the liner paper.

A couple of days later, Moore telephoned Linn’s editor-in-chief Jay Bigalke to relay the news of his remarkable find.

In early August, Bigalke contacted Moore and asked him to send one of the error panes to Linn’s editorial office in Sidney, Ohio.

Moore, who describes himself as “a collector for many years,” wasted no time sending the error pane on its way.

Linn’s and Scott catalog editors carefully viewed the error pane under high magnification and determined that the stamps in the top three rows are completely without die cuts.

The five stamps in the bottom row, however, do not qualify as errors because they show traces of die cutting along the bottom margin and along one-third of the vertical margins between the stamps.

As such, these stamps would qualify as production freaks, not catalog-listable errors.

Close inspection of the back of the error pane showed normal placement of the rouletting between stamps and the serpentine die cuts behind each stamp that facilitate removal of the liner paper from an individual stamp.

In comparison to a normal pane, the rouletting on the error pane is faintly impressed into the liner paper.

All marginal markings on the back of the error pane are identical to those found on a normal pane.

The plate-position diagram on the back of the error pane shows it came from position 6 (third pane in the middle row of three panes) in a press sheet of nine panes of 20.

The error pane has several noticeable wrinkles and bends, which suggests that someone may have tried to remove one or more of the die-cutting-omitted stamps from the pane before realizing that something was amiss.

Such blemishes also may be indicative of printer’s waste — stamps that have been misprinted, misperforated or misgummed during the normal process of stamp production.

Printer’s waste is supposed to be destroyed but sometimes escapes detection and is sold through normal postal channels. Other examples of printer’s waste enter the philatelic market through carelessness or theft.

Moore’s discovery came about a month and a half after the June 11 first day of issue of the USS Missouri stamp.

What makes his find more unusual is that the two error panes originated from a military post office that sometimes doesn’t receive or maintain significant quantities of commemorative stamps.

According to Moore, the Naval Station Rota post office received an initial requisition of only 25 panes of the USS Missouri stamp.

Discovery of this new error came too late for inclusion in the 2020 Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers, which will be published in October.

The Scott editors confirmed that it will be listed in Vol. 1A of the 2021 Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue, due out in April 2020.

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