A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzabar

A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzibar... Now what is between? For the world wide classical era philatelist and stamp collector, a country specific philatelic survey is offered by the blog author, Jim Jackson, with two albums: Big Blue, aka Scott International Part 1 (checklists available), and Deep Blue, aka William Steiner's Stamp Album Web PDF pages. In addition, "Bud" offers commentary and a look at his completely filled Big Blue. Interested? So into the Blues...

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Errors, Freaks, and Oddities Collecting

Error Vertical Perforation Cut on
1914 Mexico Scott 369 5c gray green "Coat of Arms'
Redrawn, Perf 12
Into the Deep Blue
Every collector comes across a stamp, at times, that does not look ordinary, or has something "different" about it. It looks "odd", or freakish, or might even appear to be an error.

Something clearly went wrong in the production of the stamp.

You might become curious as to what happened. You might wonder if it is "worth" anything. Are there other collectors that like this kind of thing too? You might even consider becoming an EFO collector.

Welcome to the world of Errors, Freaks, and Oddities!

There is even a long established stamp society for this: The Errors, Freaks, and Oddities Collectors Club.

1909 Liberia 119a 15c indigo & black
"Vai Woman Spinning Cotton"
Center Inverted
Perhaps, for most collectors, the most interesting error that comes to  mind are the center inverts. This can occur when a stamp goes through the printing process twice: once for the frame, and once for the center vignette/scene, and the center or frame plate is inverted.

1911 Guatemala 142a 5p red & black
"President Manuel Estrada Cabrera"
Center Inverted
Quite spectacular.

In truth, inverts are fairly rare (and valuable- think "Inverted Jenny" of 1918), at least among philatelic nations with high quality control.

Among other nations where philatelic shenanigans are tolerated,  perhaps not so much.. ;-)

In reality, I think of inverted center stamps as part of mainstream philately, and not just for EFO fanatics.

1855 Sweden Tri-Skilling Yellow Color error
From the Internet - not mine!
A genuine color error on a stamp - not just a shade or changeling- is also rare and valuable. This can occur when a color intended for another denomination is used by mistake.

November 16, 1962 USA Scott 1204 4c black, brown, & yellow
"Dag Hammarskjold" Special Printing Issue
Yellow Inverted and Shifted to the Right
Color mistakes (errors) can be found on late 20th century stamps too, here the USA 1962 "Dag Hammarskjold", printed by the Giori press on October 23, 1962. The yellow color is inverted, and shifted to the right.

After discovery, a deliberate "mistake" special printing was released November 16, 1962. The original 10-23-1962 "mistake" stamps can only be authenticated if on cover with a postal date prior to 11-16-1962.

I remember the excitement in the philatelic community, and even the general public!, when the original error stamps were discovered (Front page news!). And what a "downer" it was when deliberate error stamps were produced. 

1956 Russia Scott 1860 40k emerald "Makhmed Alazov"
Two lines in 148 panel (TII) rather than three lines (TI)
Errors sometime occur when the printing on the stamp is found not correct, and a subsequent corrective stamp is then issued.

Here, the "error" stamp had two lines of Cyrillic script in the "148" panel, while the corrective stamp has three lines. The Scott catalogue lists these variations as Type II and Type I respectively.

1959 USA  Scott J89 1c carmine rose
Wildly off-center, no?

The stamp itself is printed by rotary press. But the denomination for the stamp is added by using rubber plates in an operation similar to precanceling.

If I was a mainstream collector, I would want a nicely centered specimen. An EFO collector might like this.

1928 Canada Scott 154 8c blue "King George V"
Right "8" with "black holes"?
Much of EFO collecting is sorting through specimens looking for production errors. Here, the left "8" has three black marks. Looks intriguing, but I think those marks were left by the cancel - an oddity. If it was a production error, it could be a one-off (a freak), or a repetitive error on one or more stamps of the sheet. If the latter, then the Scott catalogue might be interested!!, and you  might have a find!

India Hyderabad 1934 Scott O50  4A ultramarine
"Reservoir for City Hyderabad'
Engraved; "4 Annas" improperly printed
Plate wear can lead to "errors". Here the "4 Annas" on the left side panel is not well printed. This might be of interest to a specialist, or an EFO collector.

1903 USA Scott 304 5c blue "Lincoln"
Most of us look for well centered stamps.  But sometimes the stamp is so badly centered, it becomes interesting.

1967 USA Scott 1294 $1 dull purple 
"Eugene O'Neil'
So bad that it is good from an EFO point of view.

1882 USA Scott 1950 20c blue
"Franklin Delano Roosevelt"
I wonder if this is printer's waste? Probably not, but not a good day for "quality control" at the post office.

1932 Lithuania Scott 265 bister & orange brown
"Vytautas Fleeing from Prison"
Now this is probably printer's waste. Many "shenanigan" countries do seem to get stuff like this out into the philatelic community.

1882 New Zealand Scott 61 1p rose "Victoria"
Imprint gutter - or not
This was labeled in the album as showing an "imprint gutter". I don't think so - looks like the frame of the next stamp.

1935 Paraguay Scott O98 2.50p violet
Imperf rather than Perf 11
The Paraguay Scott O98 is only catalogued as Perf 11. This imperf specimen is either printer's waste, or unauthorized, - or possibly a cover/envelope stamp? (Scott doesn't cover envelope stamps for non-USA countries.)

1928 Guatemala Scott 230a 1/2c on 2p orange
"National Observatory"
Blue  & Inverted Surcharge
Lots of EFO hunting among overprints/surcharged stamps, as that is a fruitful area for production errors.

This is an example of an inverted surcharge. Inverted printing/surcharges can at times be rare, but more commonly, it is so frequent that there is no or very little added value.

1903 Panama Scott 79 10c yellow
"Map of Panama"
Overprint in Red: Part of "P"(right) and "M"(left) missing
Close inspection reveals lacunae among the overprint.

British Guiana 1890 Scott 150 1c on $3 green & black
Red Surcharge: Broken "C" on Surcharge
The broken "C": a freak or a repetitive error on part of the sheet?

Not listed in Stanley Gibbons, so probably a one-off.

1902-03 Iceland Scott O22 5a brown
"02-03" Op in Black: Here "02" appears to be "09"
OP looks like a "09"? 

1917 Trinidad & Tobago Scott MR5 1p scarlet
Part of "A" in "TAX' missing
Missing part of "A" in "TAX". A freak (one-off).

1948 Jordan Palestine Scott N6 4m deep yellow green
"Amir Abdullah ibn Hussein"
Red OP, Part of "Palestine" OP missing
Not well printed.

1882 Switzerland Scott 84 40c gray "Helvetia"
Large Numerals, "Two Crosses" !!
Here is an oddity: Two crosses! Actually, the second cross is part of the cancel.

Liberia 111a $1 rose & gray "Mercury"
Center Inverted
Out of the Blue
Does EFO collecting excite you or bore you to tears?

I admit it does a little of both for me.

Note: The scan of the Sweden Tri-Skilling yellow, which is unique and a great rarity ($3,000,000), is obviously from the internet, and the scan appears to be part of the public domain.

Comments appreciated!


  1. Interesting post, Jim. Of note regarding the Russia Sc 1860 example you spotlight: the stamp commemorates "the oldest resident of the Azerbaijan SSR, 148 year-old collective farm worker Makhmud Eyvazov". That's quite a feat, but probably one that remains unverified!

    1. Tom - Indeed. The oldest well documented person was Jeanne Calment, who met Van Gough at one time, was 122+ years.


  2. Quite an assemblage of errors produced in the printing process. Flipped vignettes are definitely some of the most popular, if rare, issues. Nothing quite like an upside down framed picture although some of the perf mis-registrations are quite interesting as well.

    1. Albumfilling - I agree, the inverted examples are the most interesting to me, and most others I suspect.

  3. There's a good book I have called "The Error World" by Simon Garfield where he talks about his life collecting EFO stamps.

    1. Thanks Chris- will be on the lookout for it.

  4. Bored with EFOs? Never (but that you might have guessed) ;)


    1. ;-) !!

      I like the good stuff (Inverts etc), but one-offs don't interest me much. ;-)