Flawed stamp sells at 10 times more than the catalogue price
This may cheer up Indian philatelists. The recently-concluded Stanley Gibbons auction, held in London, saw Indian and Chinese stamps as the top picks. Philatelists put up a tough fight for flawed Indian stamps, one of which fetched more than 10 times of the catalogue estimate.
The highlight of the London auction was a 1992 stamp belonging to the 'birds of prey' series. It showed an Osprey in action. The Rs2 stamp was misprinted with a Re1 denomination. Moreover, the stamp got the Hindi name of the bird incorrect. Besides its Latin name, the stamp labelled the bird as 'Shahin Kohila', which is the Hindi name for falcon. The Osprey's Hindi name is 'macchlimar'. The catalogue price of this stamp was just £1,000 but it was sold at £11,500.
Stamps from this 1992 Osprey series have shown up at multiple auctions with colour errors too, where the blue colour of the sky in the background had spread on to the bird's wings too. The value error is extremely rare, as only four such stamps are known to exist. The flawed stamps were made part-of-year packs, and when the error was detected, they were withdrawn immediately.
The other remarkable bid was for a 25-paise stamp featuring a swamp deer, released on 1 October 1976. It sold for £1,160 but was originally priced at £500 in the catalogue. The stamp suffered a colour-omission error, and was printed without black. Colour-omitted error stamps have one or more colours missing. These errors usually occur when one stage of a multi-run printing process is skipped. Since older stamps involved fewer colours in their printing, this type of error occurred less often as they were easier to spot.
Another stamp, from the same series, was recently up for bidding at the first National Stamp Fair Auction held in New Delhi earlier this month. The fair, organised by Aeris Auctions, saw a sheet of ten 1976 swamp deer stamps valued at Rs6,000 on the catalogue. The sheet had double perforation, the only sheet for that stamp to suffer from that error.
While stamps with errors are highly valued, Indian stamps are looked down upon at international auctions, because the errors are frequent. Rajan Jayakar, eminent collector and philatelist said, "(The) value of a stamp depends on rarity, and stamps which contain errors are extremely rare because they are withdrawn as soon as the defect is spotted. However, Indian stamps feature so frequently that they are not considered valuable most of the time."
In case the other cousins of the double-error Osprey stamp turn up, it will be picked up immediately. Multiple rarities are considered as treasures in philately and their value appreciates manifold with time.