Errors and mistakes on stamps

Here’s a picture of “Western Cattle in Storm,” which some people consider to be the “most beautiful” American stamp ever printed. The irony is that the painting on which the stamp was based was by John MacWhirter, and wasn’t of western American cattle at all but actually depicted cattle in the Scottish Highlands. The designer of the stamp was unaware of the painting’s origins when he “borrowed” it for the stamp, and the post office later issued an apology to the owner of the painting.



This isn’t an example of an “ugly” stamp design but it’s kind of an amusing example of a postal screw-up. Years ago, the U.S.P.S. issued a stamp of a rodeo star named Bill Pickett. Unfortunately, the photo on which the stamp’s painting was based was mislabeled, and actually depicted Bill Pickett’s brother, Ben. In the picture below, the originally issued stamp, depicting Ben, is on the right. After the stamp was issued, the Pickett family informed the post office of their mistake and they had to recall, and destroy, millions of the incorrectly labelled stamps. They then had to re-issue the stamp with a depiction of the real Bill Pickett. (On the left).

I always thought that there was a much easier, and less costly, solution to the problem:


Earlier this year (in February to be precise) Germany introduced stamps with an additional matrix code, making it possible to track simple letters and postcards (although not for their whole journey) and helping with cancellation. The first stamp with such a code was called “Digitaler Wandel” - digital change and I think it looks pretty neat:

Needless to say that OF COURSE missprints started to appear without the new feature, so much for the glories of digitalisation…


We have no problem with correcting stamps - though the wrong date was certainly not Austria Mail Service‘s fault.
The stamp was issued with the corrected/overprinted date and was very popular because of exactly that


Perhaps postal services should start using Wite-Out correction fluid.



I am reposting this because I think here is the more suitable place. Following stamp caused some diplomatic disputes (not in very serious way) between Nepal and Sri Lanka since Lumbini (The Buddha’s birthplace) is located in Nepal, not in India. SL Post had to withdraw this issue later, but most of the design were used before it.

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Here’s another well known U.S.P.S. error stamp, an “invert” which was issued in commemoration of Dag Hammarskjold. What’s unusual about this stamp was that after the error was discovered, the post office intentionally reprinted the stamp with the error to avoid creating a rarity. As a result, an error that would have normally been extremely valuable had now been rendered essentially worthless.

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This reminds me the Inverted Jenny.

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The post office reissued this error several years ago, along with only 100 sheets of the stamp depicting the plane flying right side up. They then sold the sheets in opaque packaging, so if you paid $12.00 to buy a sheet of six of the stamps, you didn’t know which stamps you were going to get. At least one of the early purchasers of the stamps who was lucky enough to get one of the right side up sheets later sold it for around $40,000.00.


Great thread! I enjoyed reading it

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Well…that was a bit awkward. Royal Mail has been accused of insulting veterans after releasing a stamp marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day (Normandy Invasion, France). Unfortunately, the image they selected to use was showed US troops landing in what was Dutch New Guinea, nearly 8,500 miles from France. The stamp was withdrawn.Who says stamp collecting is boring?