November 12, 2014

Errors, mistakes and cheating

I was looking at the blue 1st Class and other value printed on the 2nd Class background and this got me thinking about errors generally.

Now, we're told that someone at a Post Office put the wrong roll into a machine and a customer with an eye for mistakes produced as many strips as he could, kindly telling the counter staff about their mistake after he had finished. I have some sympathy with the fellow and suspect I may well have done the same myself. Strictly speaking, or not even particularly strictly speaking, that is not the best behaviour. The 'right thing' to do would have been to notify the staff as soon as the first blue surprise emerged. I would say it would be reasonable to keep that. After that then the moral case descends pretty rapidly and viewing this as taking advantage of a situation for personal gain ascends at the same rate.

No harm was done, though, so it's not something I feel needs to be debated at length. These things happen. These things have always happened and we collectors dream of finding something amiss or awry one day in our purchases. The difference in the past, though, was that very, very few errors actually ever made it to anywhere vaguely close to the public. Printed sheets of stamps were produced by firms known for their security processes - many printed banknotes for heaven's sake! - and they all had staff with brown coats and glasses and magnifying glasses who inspected what someone else may well have already inspected. Not a lot got part these people. Even if it did them Post Office staff would spot it and remove sheets from sale most of the time. So errors that made it across the counter were, indeed, very rare and so much more valued.

Now, with Post And Goes, it seems that customers are in control of the process. We pop in some coins or a credit card and out comes whatever happens to be in the machine, for better or worse. It would be quite easy for a member of staff to put the wrong roll in a machine and let a colleague know that they could get some interesting variations from it. I'm not talking about mistakes here but a deliberate action. Something you simply would not have envisaged once upon a time but which I have to say does enter my head now.

I don't know exactly how much these particular strips will be worth in future but they certainly can fetch a good premium on their face value already. I am inclined to believe that this particular instance was a genuine oversight by counter staff but I am similarly inclined to the view that there will be more appearing that will be set up and entirely dishonest.

We won't be able to tell one from the other.

November 06, 2014

1st Class Post And Gos in blue bring some cheer to a boring month

At last, some fun amongst the Post And Gos. I was too late to stop some more annoying overprints coming through the system but those shown here ought to be the last (and are all available for sale). The fun is the quite remarkable printing of the normal 1st Class etc values on blue backing which should be reserved for 2nd Class and 2nd Large. It's easy to see how this arose - someone putting the wrong roll in whatever section of a machine handles the 2nd Class issue - and I am surprised it hasn't happened more often. It is a lovely strip to have, though, and whilst I can see it being repeated it should remain quite a valuable error.

The other strips shown above are a Machin strip with MA13 and the new font and a strange pictorial overprint as well as text for the BPMA Inland Airmail 1934. Heavens that's just an 80th anniversary and of something quite obscure too.

The second class Machins are the first with MA14 date but also the IIA font. More noticeable, though, is a remarkable shift of phosphor up or down the stamps so that there is a massive break bang in the middle! This will have happened when the roll was printed and registration is miles out as the break would normally be positioned very carefully between the stamps. There are quite a few examples of short bands at top or bottom where the registration for phosphor printing has gone a little bit awry but this is really impressive. I don't normally collect phosphor or overprint errors but it seems that these are the first examples of MA14 and that's why I got them. In theory, they could be the 'normal' ones if properly registered stamps don't come along. I doubt that'll be the case, though, so it's nice to have these. The others are the first 2nd Class to have overprints as the obscure 80th gets on to these too. Odd in many ways.

A couple of pictorials with overprints also sneaked through to give my dealer plenty of income for his Christmas shopping. These are pretty but pretty tedious NMRN extensions for Remembrance and Trafalgar Day. I like the idea of using the Poppy label for remembrance at this time but I don't feel it is right to be associated just with The NMRN. few people will know what The NMRN is anyway, I'm afraid. I will have to look it up to get it right and can only recall RN being Royal Navy.

So there endeth the Lesson for Post And Go overprints and pictorials.

Not a great deal more this month: a stamp with a numeric value appears after a long time - the 2p with M14L from De La Rue, a pale red 1st from Walsall business sheets M14L MBIL, a bright red 1st Large from Walsall MA13 MFIL and a 2nd bright blue with an almost illegible M11L MTIL recently discovered.