10 Varieties to Spice up your Life
Discover rare varieties of stamps still going cheap
Over the past 15 years or so interest in collecting stamp errors has increased considerably.
A stamp error is used to describe any glitch in the intended appearance of a stamp caused by an error in the printing process. An error appears on every stamp printed until the error is spotted and corrected.
Normally, sheets printed with errors are destroyed, but occasionally some inexplicably find their way into the public domain. Such errors are usually very rare and desperately hunted down by avid collectors.
The value of an error stamp will be defined by its visual appeal and relative scarcity. The more visible printing mistakes usually command the highest values.
Printing errors come in various forms such as missing colours, wrong ink colour or misplaced, inverted or missing design elements.
A “variety” on the other hand is a flaw usually only found on one stamp in each sheet. Plate varieties occur in the printing plate and not the production process.
The increasing popularity of stamp varieties have pushed prices higher. I have discovered some, though, which I think still seem very reasonably priced in relation to their scarcity.
Without further ado, here are my top 10 stamp varieties to spice up your life:
1. The Upside Down Kangaroo
Australia 1915 5s grey and yellow, watermark 5, variety watermark inverted, large part original gum, with lovely fresh colour and perforations and centring far above average.
The watermark variety is easily detectable from the face. Scarce so fine. Mint. SG 30w
PRICE: £1,300 ($1,691)
I love the fact this stamp unintentionally depicts the Australian national animal from a Northern Hemisphere’s perspective.
The “Roo and Map” was Australia’s first and most famous stamp and defined the nation’s identity when it was first issued in 1913.
This extremely visual variety is highly collectible and is rarely found in such fine condition.
2. A Beautiful Variety
Barbados 1916-19 3s deep violet, type 14, variety WATERMARK INVERTED AND REVERSED, fresh and fine, large part original gum.
A rarity. Mint. SG 191y
PRICE: £1,700 ($2,222)
This is a fresh and fine example of what is an extremely rare watermark inverted and reversed variety from Barbados.
I think the stamp design itself is stunning and one of my favourite stamp issues from Barbados.
The price of £1,700 ($2,222) is very reasonable, in my opinion, for such an important rarity from a widely collected area.
3. Ceylon’s stamp issue of varieties
Ceylon 1921-32 Script watermark 100r grey-black, variety 'Break in lines below left scroll' (R4/9). SG359he.
Well-centred with lovely fresh colour, original gum, the odd shortish perforation, but still very fine, and a particularly prominent example of this variety. Very rare. Accompanied by a Sismondo Certificate of Authenticity (2011) that incorrectly describes the shade as 'brownish grey', but gives the correct SG number.
PRICE: £4,250 ($5,529)
This stamp comes from the beautiful island of Sri Lanka under its former name of Ceylon when it was under British colonial rule.
The variety is quite subtle. The King George V issues from Ceylon are renowned for a good range of watermark varieties and this is one of the finest.
This is the only example of this stamp I have ever seen, giving you an idea of its level of rarity.
The stamp was once owned by the world-renowned stamp dealer Stanley Gibbons, and was considered by their experts as “catalogue quality”.
It is currently catalogued by Stanley Gibbons at a price of £5,000 ($6,505), but I can offer it to you today for the price of £4,250/$5,529 (15% discount).
4. The Overturned King
Hong Kong 1912-21 $1 purple and blue/blue, watermark MCA, variety watermark inverted, brilliant original gum, (unmounted, but minor traces of backing adherence).
Lovely condition for this scarce variety. Unmounted Mint. SG 112w
PRICE: £325 ($423)
When Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997, I expected millions of Chinese stamp collectors to cross over into collecting stamps from Hong Kong. Whilst this has happened to some extent, many rare stamps from Hong Kong remain reasonably priced, such as this one.
Despite its visual appeal and scarcity, this stamp is available to purchase for just £325 ($423).
This stamp has actually more than doubled in value in the past 10 years, showing how prices can move but, at this level, I feel it remains undervalued.
5. Spot the difference
Hong Kong 1921-37 1c brown, Script watermark, block of 9, showing major variety 'Damaged crown' on centre stamp.
Very fine unmounted example with original gum. R6/4, lower left pane.
A variant of Webb 10 = HAG 22 (damaged right side of crown), with the same flaws by King's beard.
Scarce, and lovely condition. Unmounted Mint. SG 117var
PRICE: £120 ($156)
It is not often that you find a beautiful and rare philatelic piece such as this for just £120 ($156).
It is also such a bonus to find a major variety hidden in a block of 9 stamps.
The condition of this scarce block of stamps from Hong Kong is flawless, with its full original gum intact.
6. Only 3 out of 100
Iraq British Occupation Official. 1932 75f on 1r chocolate, horizontal pair from top of sheet, the left stamp variety 'Inverted Arabic 5', fresh unmounted original gum.
Desirable in this se-tenant form. Occurs three times in the sheet of 100. Official. SG O133/a
PRICE: £150 ($195)
This stamp from Iraq during the British Occupation was used solely by government officials on government mail.
It is a very visual variety with the inverted Arabic ‘5’ and very desirable in this se-tenant form.
The interest and prices of stamps from the Middle East have started to show substantial growth in recent years and this stamp is up 167% in value over the past 10 years.
Despite this growth, at a price of £150 ($195), it still looks too low a value for such a desirable stamp to me.
7. The King’s Broken Crown
Nyasaland 1921-30 2s purple and blue/pale blue, Script watermark, variety 'Broken crown and scroll' (R2/12), fine original gum.
Unmounted Mint. SG 109b
PRICE: £180 ($234)
This variety from the African nation of Nyasaland (now Malawi) shows a classic King George V stamp design with the startling variety of the King’s crown broken.
The stamp is in pristine condition with full original gum and worthy of a far larger price ticket than £180 ($234), in my opinion.
8. When a small flaw makes a big difference
Papua OFFICIAL. 1931-32 6d dull purple and red purple, horizontal left marginal pair showing variety 'POSTACE' for 'POSTAGE' at left (R6/2) on second stamp, fresh original gum.
Scarce. Official. SG O62/a
PRICE: £170 ($221)
Sometimes a small flaw on the printing plate can make a big difference to the end result. In this instance, the word “POSTAGE” ended up as “POSTACE”!
This government official stamp from Papua (British New Guinea) is scarcer as a left marginal pair.
It is in the finest condition you could ever hope to find.
9. Lightning Strikes ‘007’ times
Sierra Leone 1935 Silver Jubilee 5d green and indigo, upper right corner block of 4 with sheet number '007' from vignette plate '3', showing variety 'Lightning conductor' on R2/5, very fine original gum. (variety unmounted).
Total printing only 812 sheets, from four vignette plates. Unmounted Mint. SG 183/c
PRICE: £225 ($293)
In recent times, Sierra Leone is most known for its brutal civil war that ended in 2002 and for its trade in “blood diamonds”. It is a country imbued with history and has produced some fantastic stamp issues such as this one.
The 1935 Silver Jubilee issue was a quality stamp design and this variety is well sought after by collectors.
This upper right corner block of four is made even more appealing by the sheet number “007” virtue of the famous fictional character, James Bond.
10. An oDDITY
Uganda 1896 (7 Nov) 4a black typeset, left marginal showing variety small 'o' in 'POSTAGE' (R3/1), fine unused. Scarce. Mint. SG 58a
PRICE: £120 ($156)
My final variety recommendation is, frankly, a bit odd. It is incredibly visual with the small ‘o’ in ‘POSTAGE’.
It’s unusual and a fine rarity.
You can buy these varieties as a collection
If you are interested in buying my collection of stamp varieties in its entirety, the price is** £8,540 ($11,110).**
I must warn in advance that this option is subject to availability. As you know, I can’t stop people (and I wouldn’t want to) going onto our website and buying individual stamps from the collection.
You can purchase individual stamps from the collection from our online store by clicking on the link against each stamp featured.
Alternatively, you can place your order by email email@example.com.
Finally, we would love to hear from you and you can always call us on +44(0)1534 639998 to secure the stamp(s) you want, albeit this seems a much less popular option these days.
Once hooked, varieties can be the spice of a stamp collector’s life.
CEO, Just Collecting Limited
PS. As always, everything you purchase from me comes with a lifetime money-back guarantee of authenticity. I am even willing to ship your stamps wherever you are in the world FREE of charge.
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