Obviously, a major attraction of stamp collecting is the investment potential. One of the rarest and most valued errors in philately is the «invert error». What is an invert error and what are these stamps worth?
When part of the image on a postage stamp is printed upside-down, it becomes an invert. Usually this happens when a stamp is to be printed with multiple colours and has to pass through the press more than once. It is easy for someone to accidentally feed the sheet through for the next colour the wrong way around, and then one or more of the colours (and therefore part of the image) is misprinted, resulting in an upside down image. More often than not the mistake is caught and the sheets are destroyed before they hit the public. On rare occasions though, a sheet makes it to the post office and stamps are purchased before anyone notices the mistake. Since collectors enjoy these rare stamps they are usually worth a small fortune-some have even been sold for upwards of USD$100 000!!
Some famous and interesting inverts:
The «CIA Invert»: This American stamp (Scott#1610c) is considered by philatelists to be a true colour invert. The last colour to be printed on the 1$ candleholder stamp was dark brown. One sheet of stamps was fed through the wrong way, resulting in the brown ink being misprinted. Since the brown ink accounted for most of the design, the image of the holder and the writing is upside down in relation to the other image on the stamp-a flame. It is named the «CIA invert» because it was a CIA employee who discovered the error when buying stamps for his office. He teamed up with other colleagues to buy the sheet. Of course, others tried to get a piece of the pie. The US Post Office Department tried to get the sheet back, and the bureau of the CIA tried to claim the sheet was theirs by saying it was bought while «on the job» and therefore was property of the bureau. In the end neither agency was successful, and today there is one stamp dealer who is known to have been the main supply source of the CIA invert for the past 30 years. In the 2008 Scott catalogue it has a value of $21,000.00 USD, but at auction this stamp would certainly go for more!
The «St-Lawrence Seaway Invert»: A Canadian entry into the invert error field is the St-Lawrence Seaway invert (Scott#387a). This stamp was issued to commemorate the opening of the St-Lawrence Seaway in 1959. The seaway, stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes allows for deep draft navigation and is sometimes referred to as the «gateway to North America». Its system of locks can lift vessels up to 75 meters above sea level. Only on some of the Canadian issues was the design inverted. Approximately 400 of the inverted stamps are known to have existed. It has a catalogue value of $16,000.00 CAD for a perfect specimen, which is difficult to obtain due to frequent handling of the stamps by the public since its release in 1959.
Another famous invert is the «Inverted Jenny». Are there any others that you know of but would like to have a bit more background information about? Drop us a line and we’ll do the research for you! Maybe you’ll see your choice in one of our future articles.