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Stamp Market Commentary

Commentary No. 121 - 17 July, 2009

Story of a New Discovery
(Scott 1815 and 1817)

In the April 14, 2009 edition of the Canadian Stamp News, there was an announcement of a discovery of three new imperforate varieties by Barb Houghton in Canada. Here they are:

The set in which these stamps are found was issued in 1999 to celebrate Christmas. Each set included a 46¢, 55¢ and 95¢ stamp. The above varieties are the 46¢ vertically imperforate as a pair and as an inscription block, and the 95¢ stamp and booklet message, as an imperforate pair. These types of stamp errors likely resulted from the paper on which the stamps were printed passing incorrectly through the perforating machine.

It is curious that both of the 46¢ errors show the printer’s inscription in the bottom margin. It makes you wonder if their inclusion in the packets was completely random.

We were pretty interested in this news, and arranged through the newspaper’s editor, Bret Evans, to make contact with Ms. Houghton.

In this commentary, we describe how Barb made her discovery last December, using her own words:

“At Christmas time I purchased a Stamp Quest kit from my local post office to give my grandson. I did however remove the stamp packet included before I gave it to him and instead gave him many of my duplicate stamps to get him started.

Last weekend, I went back to look at the mint stamps that had been included with the Stamp Quest kit and while looking them up in the Scott & Unitrade catalogues realized there was something definitely unusual with the 'pair' of #1815's that were included....So these came directly from the post office along with several other stamps which had been issued in the same general time frame as #1815.

I went back to the post office and purchased another Stamp Quest kit, and lo and behold there was now the set of 4 #1815's (see the original scan I sent) only perforated horizontally not vertically and the additional #1817 also not perfed vertically.

Today, I purchased 3 more kits (the last of the current supply at my post office). These did not include any of the above. (All is not lost, I got many interesting mint stamps to keep or sell)

The post office said they had sold quite a few just before Christmas. My friend in Oshawa has been to several postal outlets there with no success in finding any more Stamp Quest kits.

That might explain why none of these 'imperfs' have surfaced...If young people are just beginning their stamp collecting journey....and may not have known what they had or that it might be an error of value.

So now you have it......These items have come directly from the post ordered by the postmaster here, from where ever these kits are assembled. (Philatelic Center, NS)

Not quite as exciting as finding a 'Jenny', but still very curious.”

Stamp Quest Starter Kit

A Stamp Quest Starter Kit is a Post Office product aimed at encouraging young beginners to start to collect stamps. It has everything kids need to get started including: Quality binder with plenty of pockets - Perf and Friends comic book - tongs, magnifying glass, handbook, stock sheets and more, plus a one-year membership to Stamp Quest Club: Price: $24.95

One of the things that is puzzling about this discovery is that, although the stamps in question were bought at the Post office last December, they were actually issued in 1999, a good ten years ago. Have they been lying around in someone’s drawer for 10 years, or were the packets put together way back when?

Barb’s comment about young beginners to collecting not realizing what they had rings true.

Sometimes even the Post Office employees cannot recognize a variety. You have to be a collector.

When David Stein, a Montreal collector, bought the blocks of Scott 1679b from a local Post Office in 2003, he discovered that all the imperforate stamps at the top of the blocks had been separated with a pair of scissors so they could be easily used. This was a very kind thing for the Post Office employee to do, but showed a lack of knowledge about stamp collecting.

As with most discoveries of this nature, the full story of how these errors got into the packets will probably never be known. Did an employee at the printers inadvertently slip them in without noticing, or might that person have known exactly what they were doing? The answer isn’t important to collectors. The fact the stamp errors ended up where they did is what is important, as is Barb’s discovery. It is that which will be remembered over the years.

Thank you, Barb, for sharing your discovery with us!

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