errlett.gif (10572 bytes) Thanks for taking time to read through our ERROR INFORMATION LETTER. Our basic information letter on the world of printing errors on U.S. stamps appears below---including illustrations of the various types of errors. Feel free to print out this very informative article.

Welcome to the fascinating and exciting world of collecting errors on United States stamps. Error collecting is rapidly becoming one of the most popular specialty areas within the field of stamp collecting today. With 10's to 100's of millions of normal stamps printed for each new issue, errors are an extremely rare commodity. You see, as a rule errors are generally very scarce to rare, when you consider that quantities found are usually very small; ranging from unique, to very few (5 to 50), to what is considered a large find which might consist of 1000 to a few thousand of an issue. In relationship to 10's to 100's of millions, they certainly are a very small percentage. Consider even further that errors are found only on a small percentage of the issues printed each year. Entering into this amazing and fast growing hobby, you the collector, will begin a fun filled journey of obtaining some of the world's most appealing, unusual and exceptional stamps!

As you begin your search for these intriguing mistakes of the United States Postal Service, let's consider the various ways to collect, and the different types of errors on stamps. Let's first understand the difference between Major Errors, and Minor Errors (more commonly known as Freak Printings). Major Errors are stamps that are consistently recognized throughout the philatelic industry, and are generally listed in all the major stamp collecting catalogs. Generally, Major Errors can be recognized by having one or more of the printing processes either omitted, reversed, doubled or changed. Minor Errors or Freaks on the other hand, are generally stamps that have received the complete printing process, but with certain steps of the process printed in what you might call a "fluke" fashion. Minor Errors may occur in various degrees even within a single issue. Because of the wide variety that exists within this area of collecting, Minor Errors are too numerous to list within any catalog.

The Major Errors offered by our firm fall into 10 specialized categories listed here. They are:

1. Color Omitted Errors - Stamps printed with the omission of one or more colors from a normally printed stamp. Color omitted errors are certainly one of the most eye appealing areas of major error collecting.

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2. Error of Color - Results from the incorrect color ink being used in the course of printing. Shown here: the "black trees" variety of No. 2280b.

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Categories 3-7 can be grouped into one main category known as Imperforates. Imperforates are pair or blocks of stamps that are printed with one or more directions of perforations omitted. Perforations are the holes which are punched between stamps to help with separation. Let's take a closer look at these various types of Imperforates.

3. Imperforate - Two or more normally printed attached stamps that are completely without trace of perforations in any direction. Generally, these are collected in pairs, or blocks if the issue contains more than 2 different stamp designs.

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4. Vertically Imperforate - Two or more normally printed, horizontally attached stamps, without trace of any vertical perforations. Normal horizontal perforations or trace of are present. Like imperforates, they are collected in pairs, or blocks depending on issue designs.

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5. Horizontally Imperforate - Two or more normally printed, vertically attached stamps, without trace of any horizontal perforations. Normal vertical perforations or trace of are present. As above, collected in pairs or blocks depending on issue designs.

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6. Vertically Imperforate Between - Two or more normally printed, horizontally attached stamps, without trace of any vertical perforations between the stamps. There are normal perforations or trace of, on all four external sides of the attached stamps. As above, collected in pairs or blocks depending on issue designs.

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7. Horizontally Imperforate Between - Two or more normally printed, vertically attached stamps, without trace of any horizontal perforations between the stamps. There are normal perforations or trace of on all four external sides of the attached stamps. As above, collected in pairs or blocks depending on issue designs.

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8. Imperforate Coils - This 8th area of Major Error collecting, like imperforates, involves two or more normally printed attached stamps which have no trace of any perforations. The difference of is category is that collecting is limited to stamps that are printed in coil form.

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9. Inverted Designs - This is one of the most intriguing area of collecting errors on stamps. For sure it is the area of U.S. Major Errors which yields the highest prices, as very, very few issues have ever been found with inverted errors. Inverted Designs occur when one part of the printed design is printed upside down in relation to the rest of the stamp. The most well known Inverted Design is the "Upside Down Airplane", #C3a. This stamp has a catalog value of $150,000.00 for hinged, and $180,000.00 for never hinged.

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10. Double Impression - This is the final area of Major Error stamps we will be discussing. Double Impressions, as they sound, are stamps that have passed through a printing process a second time, and have received a second printed impression. This may happen with one or more of the printed colors. It is important to note that the second impression must not be a reversed or mirrored image.

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The Minor Errors we will be offering fall into 6 categories. They are:

1. Color Shifts - Resulting from one or more of the printing plates being out of register with the other plates. The result is a stamp that has an appearance similar to a double impression. The difference is that the "look like" second impression is actually a different color, as the stamp passes through the press for each color separately. Color shifts may range from very minor to very dramatic, depending on the space between the plates.

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2. Perforation Shifts - Resulting from stamps being misaligned with perforating machines. Unlike color shifts, where the stamp designs are out of register, perforation shifts have normal printed designs which have been cut into pieces from the perforations being placed into the design, rather than between the stamps. As with color shifts, perforation shifts may range from very minor to dramatic, depending on the size of the shift. In some cases "new designs" are actually formed by re-aligning wording on the stamps.

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3. Wild Perfs / Foldovers - Wild Perfs occur from fold overs in the printing process. A fold over happens when a corner (or greater) of a sheet of stamps is accidentally folded over before entering the perforation machine. The results are stamps that have Wild Looking Perforations way out of line with the remainder of the sheet. Usually the stamps affected have a diamond like apperance.

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4. Miscuts - These result when the production sheets become misaligned with the cutting machines. These happen most commonly on coil isssues. The end result is a coil stamp that has a portion of the bottom of the design above the top portion of the design.

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5. Offsets - One of the most popular area of minor error collecting are offset errors. These occur when a press skips a sheet of paper. The result is a sheet that receives a normal impression on the front of the stamp, and a reversed "Offset" impression on the gum side of the stamp. These are very startling and highly sought after minor errors.

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6. Inking Flaws - Stamps which have inking flaws can fall into 3 separate groups. 1.) Over-inking. This occurs when a plate has received an abundance of ink, usually at the beginning of a press run. The results are stamps that have a very heavy impression, sometimes to the point of obliterating the design. 2.) Under-inking. This occurs when a plate has too little ink, most often towards the end of a press run. The results are stamps that have a very faint or "dry" appearance. 3.) Ink-Smears or Blobs. These occur from "blobs of ink or cleaners on the printing plates. Unlike over-inkings they are limited to one or 2 stamps where only part of the design may be affected.

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Over-inking


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Under-inking

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Ink Smear

See the amazing variety of Major & Minor Errors we have to offer on our site, and allow us the opportunity to help you develop a collection that will truly be unique and extraordinary! E-mail or call us direct with any questions you may have, and we will do our best to help you as you enter this ever growing and exciting field of Error Collecting!