Friday, August 27, 2010

This one opened the Ball PFF #26

In 1990 I was working for Montana's Fish, Wildlife & Parks agency. There was a high volume of mail coming into the mail room in early April as nonresidents and residents alike submitted their applications for special permits to hunt big game.

One morning a fellow employee brought me an envelope with THIS stamp on it, and asked me if I could tell her what was wrong with it. I immediately spotted the lack of a cancel, and also the lack of any lettering or numbers on the stamp. I told her that yes, I knew what was wrong with it. She allowed me to take the name, address & phone number off of the application, and I went about the task of contacting the person who had put this error stamp on the envelope.

To make a rather long story short, the wife purchased the booklet of stamps and mailed the application for her husband, so when it came time to ask about purchasing the rest of the stamps from the booklet, I had to bargain with her - which I did. I purchased the balance of the booklet for $450, and also threw in one of these covers for her to keep. She accepted my offer.

I created a total of nine of these covers and sent them to Kansas City to get them canceled with the First Day of Issue cancellation. I sold ALL of them. In other words, I have none of them left. I also gave a dozen roses and $50 to the young lady who found the error stamp to begin with, and she thought that was more than the greatest thing she'd ever heard of - paying so much money for simple postage stamps.
And for those of you interested in more mail art, either on envelopes or cards, make sure you visit The Best Hearts Are Crunchy for more 'Eye Candy'!


  1. What a fantastic find! Usually they are spotted so quickly, they are never issued. Great cover too, of course. :)

  2. Really wonderful. And you captured one of all time loves, lighthouses. Churches for lost souls.

    Great story. You with the quick eye.

  3. WOW WHAT A FIND... once in a life time story. Love the cover. We love lighthouses, they are in the entry and hall. I am going to have to take down the lighthouse post cards and share them some time.

    Thanks for sharing. Happy PFF

  4. I love your story about the stamps! That was a wonderful find for you. And how nice to give the young lady who brought that to your attention a lovely gift. Good post! Carol

  5. Yes, a once-in a lifetime find! I bet you made $$ on your sales too.
    Happy PFF.

  6. Dave, you did a clever move - good for you.
    But it would have been better to also create, even later, a few covers with THAT lighthouse from the stamp, not a different LH.
    I think most EFOs (Errors, Freaks and Oddities) in philately should NOT be valuable. They are DEFECTIVE products, MISTAKES (a few were intentional!) and their high price reflects the DESPERATION FOR RARITY. People want to own stamps that are not mass-produced. That's why they overvalue such "subprime" stamps - they are rare. But it's also morally wrong to value ERROR more than QUALITY, when you think of it. Even when you don't think of it. I hope you see my point, and I see yours.
    Again, good for you!

  7. Interesting, and I have no idea what you're talking about! My stamp knowledge is minimal, to say the least. Non-existent, even.

  8. Since I understand where Dorin is coming from, I'll add a comment here to help clarify the situation with these error stamps for those who may be confused:

    There was a window of opportunity to create the First Day Covers for this issue because of the thirty day grace period for requesting First Day of Issue cancels, officially, through the USPS. I had to call and verify with the First Day unit in Kansas City that they would indeed cancel these covers if I sent them for service. Dorin is right - they should never have been sold. They are not as rare as was first thought, but First Day Covers for this issue ARE - I know of only thirteen covers that were canceled for this issue - my nine and a set of five for another cachetmaker from back east.

    I don't regret for a minute that I not only bought the stamps, affixed them to covers and had them canceled, but I made money on the issue. The collectors who purchased these covers are satisfied because they do indeed have something which can be considered rare, but they also have a piece of my art work. The reason for the title of this post said it all - it really opened the door for me to some national exposure I would never have obtained without the little bit of luck I had - of being in the right place at the right time.

  9. fascinating card, art work and debate going on here in the comments. i see your point dorin, but as a collector i know well that buzz you get when you hold something rare or unique in your hands and often it's an error or oddity that adds the uniqueness...and creative accidents can sometimes be even MORE beautiful than intentional design. as dave stresses, the collectors who purchased the covers are happy! the only situation that falls into a morally grey area IMHO is the deliberate creation of errors to exploit a market.

  10. Right place, right time ... I, being in the way ... serendipity? Perhaps ... yet I believe every action prior to this "moment" of discovery actually led to this point. There are so many "what-ifs" along the road as well as subsequent pauses post-event. Luck is, IMHO, preparation for action when opportunity presents itself.

    Great story, MrCachet. So many players in this sequence and each of you did important work so that your art could come to fruition.

  11. Your "luck" started with the relationship you had with the young woman who brought the odd stamp to you initially. She knew you'd know. And maybe sensed you'd be interested.
    Your "luck" continued when you saw the potential opportunity and pursued the source.
    It continued when you put the rest of the dots together: executing covers to use the stamps for the lighthouse special cancel, and offerring the cachets to appreciative buyers able to pay for their delight.
    Your kind "finder's reward" to the girl brings it full's the way you treat the people around you that ensures "Lady Luck" finds you.
    I appreciate Dorin's point also; it is a curious human trait that we are attracted to the imperfect, odd, errors and rejects. I think of artists,writers, and composers who's unpublished manuscripts, scribblings, and sketches are discovered,auctioned off and treasured. Wouldn't be surprised if someone starts going through your trash, Dave. :-)

  12. An interesting story and of course, any art going through the mail is a plus!


  13. That is a wonderful story! I love the fact that errors can actually make something more valuable!

  14. This is a beauty Dave. I like it.