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Sale 1200 — The William H. Gross Collection: U.S. Stamp Multiples

Sale Date — Wednesday-Thursday, 8-9 May, 2019

Category — 1922-23 Issues (Scott 485-550)

Cat./Est. Value
Sale Number 1200, Lot Number 251, 1922-23 Issues (Scott 485-550), A spectacular imperforate block of 36 with the double 5¢ Carmine transfer errors from the upper left quadrant of the sheet


5¢ Carmine, Imperforate, Error (485), Positions UL 74/84 Plate 7942, double error in a block of 36 with left sheet margin and full arrow, the errors are Mint N.H., one stamp in the surrounding block of 12 lightly hinged, very fresh


The Philatelic Foundation (1991)


Extremely Fine


$28,000.00 as two Mint N.H. singles


The Wrong Value Produced the Wrong Color

During the course of production of the normal 2¢ plate--Plate 7942--three subjects were noted to be weakly transferred: Positions 74 and 84 in the upper left quadrant, and Position 18 in the lower right. The plate was sent back to the siderographer, who burnished out the three entries and re-entered them. Instead of the 2¢ transfer roll, he mistakenly used the 5¢ transfer roll for the 2¢ plate. The sheets were printed in the normal 2¢ Red color, but three stamps in each sheet of 400 were 5¢ stamps, which were normally printed in blue--that is how the 5¢ Red errors came to be.

The misentered plate and the sheets produced from it passed unnoticed, and the 5¢ error stamps were issued to the public. The largest number of sheets to reach collectors were perforated 11 (Scott 505). A smaller number were perforated 10 (Scott 467). The rarest of the errors are the imperforate stamps (Scott 485). On May 2, 1917, the Third Assistant Postmaster General sent out a printed notice informing postmasters of the error and recalling the "mis-printed" sheets, but by then the red cats were out of the bag.

The largest group of sheets discovered at one time were all imperforate, but they never made it to collectors. 755 imperforate sheets of 400 stamps (2,265 errors) were on their way to a company for private perforating when they were found in the Chicago post office and returned to Washington, D.C., for destruction. Three of the Chicago sheets were kept for the National Philatelic Collection.

Philip H. Ward, Jr. later reported that he bought two sheets from John Klemann, a New York dealer, who said he acquired them from Joseph Leavy, curator of the national collection, but Klemann may have been lying about his source, since he was involved in the purchase and sale of the New York find of imperforate sheets--48 sheets of 400, also intended for private perforating. The hoard was found in a New York post office and bought in two stages (25 and 23) by Edgar Nelton, a stamp dealer. He and a partner named George Tuttle sought financing from Klemann and accepted becoming one-quarter partners (whether it was one-quarter each or together is unclear). Sometime later, Klemann reported to his partners that he sold most of the sheets to Col. Edward H. R. Green. Years later, Nelton's account reflected his bitterness over what he considered to be a poor financial outcome from the discovery and Klemann's role in the sale. It does not take much imagination to see that Klemann told his partners one thing and did another, taking more than his share by underreporting profits.

An excellent series of articles on the 5¢ error by Kevin Lowther was published in 2012 in the U.S. Specialist and is available online to members. We recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about this fascinating episode of philatelic history--and we recommend this block as an impressive example of the double error in a large multiple.

May, 2, 1917, official notice from Third Assistant Postmaster General recalling 5¢ errors

E. 10,000-15,000
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