Online Resources and Exhibits

Canada’s Most Amazing Error

Corrected Listings for Two Unique Canada Errors

James E. Kloetzel

(Published on the Saskatoon Stamp Centre website in August 2002.
Original article published in Scott's Stamp Monthly, August 2002.)

In 1982, Canada issued a three-stamp set of Holy Family Christmas stamps, Scott 973-975. Shortly after the release of the stamps, an interesting pane was found in a pad of the 30¢ low value of the set that was purchased in the Montreal area. The pane eventually was purchased by John Jamieson of Saskatoon Stamp Centre in Saskatchewan, Canada, in April 1986.

The pane contains a foldover at the upper left, and that foldover created two unique errors, currently listed in the Scott and Unitrade catalogs as “Red omitted” (Scott 973a) and “Printed on gummed side” (Scott 973b).

For a recent mailing, Saskatoon Stamp Centre created a very interesting advertising piece, similar to a greeting card, utilizing a photo of this error pane. When this item passed through my hands, I compared what I saw with my memory of the listings for these two errors. What I was seeing did not match the listings that I remembered, and a comparison of the advertising piece with the actual catalogue listings showed that the two indeed did not match.

Thus began an email correspondence between myself and Jamieson. Scans of the actual block, front and back, were supplied to Scott for additional examination. What we found is explained in the following email I sent to Jamieson on June 22, 2002:

Hi John, You may remember that my examination of your clever advertising piece immediately brought home to me the fact that both Scott and Unitrade had listed incorrectly the two error stamps from this block. In my email sent to you at the time, I wrote, “Just received your latest price list packet, along with the clever Christmas error foldover piece. I can see from this color rendition that the Scott descriptions (and the Unitrade catalog descriptions also; Gibbons has not yet listed these errors at all) of Nos. 973a and 973b are incorrect. In the case of No. 973a, Scott and Unitrade say simply ‘Red omitted’, whereas there clearly are other colors missing besides red. In the case of No. 973b, we must amend our description to say ‘Printed on gummed side, black omitted’, since the black was printed on the front of all the stamps before the foldover occurred and then other colors were printed. I suggest you give a heads up to the folks at Unitrade next time around.

In a follow-up email to you, I stated that it seemed to me that two other stamps in this block might be errors; namely, the second stamp from the bottom in column one and the second stamp from the top in column two. These two stamps seemed to be missing the dark blue color that was used to print Mary’s shawl — a color that did not seem to appear elsewhere on the stamps. I stated at that time, ‘I do not see any of that color (dark blue) at the lower right corner of these stamps on the lamb, though under 16 power magnification I do see black, magenta, yellow and a lighter greenish blue.’

I must now pull back from the statements I made in the second email concerning the possibility that these two additional stamps also might be color-omitted error stamps. Let me explain why.

My final analysis, made by examining the actual normal Canada Scott 973-975 several times over several days under magnification as high as 40x, reveals that all three stamps from this set were printed using a basic four-color lithographic process. This method creates a number of colors by overlaying various basic colors to produce further colors. In the case of these stamps, there is actually no bright red in the background as it appears there is on No. 973, there is no deep blue in the background as it appears there is on No. 974, and there is no green background as it appears there is on No. 975. These prominent colors in each case are made by overlaying more basic printing colors: magenta over yellow to produce red in the case of No. 973, magenta over a turquoise blue to produce a darker blue on No. 974, and turquoise blue over yellow to produce green on No. 975.

It was actually only after I had studied the background blue of No. 974 that it occurred to me that I was looking at almost the same color in this background as appears in Mary’s shawl on No. 973. I finally made the logical connection that if the background on No. 974 had been made by overlaying magenta on a turquoise blue base, perhaps the same two basic colors had been used to create the deeper blue on Mary’s shawl. Sure enough, another close examination of Mary’s shawl indicates a deep blue created by overlaying a turquoise blue on a base of magenta.

So, what does all this mean? It means that when I previously examined the lamb’s head at the extreme lower right of the normal No. 973 and found that I saw four colors (black, magenta, yellow and turquoise blue), I was in fact seeing all four colors that were used to print this stamp. There are no colors missing on the two stamps that show only a piece of the lamb in the lower right corner. These are, in fact, only two of the greatest freak stamps in Canadian philately. They are not color-omitted errors suitable for listing in the Scott catalog, though in my opinion they have considerable value as tremendous freaks.

Thus, our examination will result in just two catalog changes. Beginning in the 2004 Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue Vol. 2, Canada Scott 973a will be listed as ‘Magenta, yellow and turquoise omitted’, and No. 973b will be described as ‘Printed on gummed side, black omitted’.

John Jamieson relates some of the history of “Canada's most amazing error”.

Saskatoon Stamp Centre has purchased and sold this pane three times, and it now resides in a collection in the U.S. Saskatoon acquired the pane in April 1986 and sold it to the “G.D.Mass” Collection. When “G.D.” sold his collection in January 2000, it came back to Saskatoon. Next it went to Edmonton, Alberta. In May 2005, it again came back to Saskatoon when DM sold us the errors in his collection. It was here for about a year during which we exhibited it at several stamp shows. Then in October 2006, it went to its current home, back in the U.S.

Copyright © 2002 James E. Kloetzel
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