By Jesse Robitaille
A Quebec stamp dealer recently discovered dramatic perforation errors on four of Canada Post’s new Pansies souvenir sheets.
The misperfs, found by Michelle Levesque, co-owner of Zimo Stamp Co., left a large blank space above the blossoms on the two se-tenant commemoratives, with “Canada,” the “P” symbol (for Permanent Postage) and the lower petals on the face of each sheet. The perforations were also shifted slightly to the right.
Jean Dallaire, Levesque’s husband and the company’s co-owner, said the dealership issues a quarterly stamp bulletin, which is mailed to each customer along with coupons and other promotional material.
“This is mailed in a large 9-by-12 [inch] envelope,” he said. “We always put souvenir sheets for franking, which is greatly appreciated by our customers.”
Levesque said she began mailing bulletins on Sat., March 7, and by Monday morning there were still about 100 left to post.
While taking the remaining souvenir sheets from a pack, she noticed the first one was noticeably misperforated, followed by three more with similar perf shifts.
The top horizontal perfs were struck slightly up into the text that names and describes the two flowers, with the last line of the English text left inside the “Delta Premium Pure Light Blue” stamp.
The shift left blank spaces about halfway down to the top of that flower plus the accompanying “Midnight Glow” pansy, with horizontal perfs cutting through the lower part of their petals.
Levesque said she checked the remaining unopened packs but found no other errors.
Regardless, she was excited about her original find.
“I was very excited,” Levesque said. “Wow!”
Dallaire said some bulletins were mailed before Levesque’s discovery.
“It would be great if any of our customers get a used copy, but it’s a long shot,” he said. “Chances are very slim.”
Jim Phillips, director of stamp services at Canada Post, said this was the first he had heard of the Pansies error.
“The supplier, Lowe-Martin Group in Ottawa, is conducting a full analysis to determine the root cause,” Phillips said. “Once this is complete, a corrective action plan will be put in place to try and ensure this never happens again.
“Canada Post strives for excellence in the design and production of stamps and we take this kind of error very seriously,” he said.
Ian Robertson, CSN consulting editor, said when errors like this occur, the value is unknown until it can be determined how many exist.
“If caught in the proofing process by the printers or by postal staff anywhere, it will reduce the number available and increase the value,” he said. “Some dealers are reluctant to pay much in the early days because the price may eventually fall.”
John Jamieson, owner of Saskatoon Stamp Centre and a specialist in modern errors and varieties, said the misperf market has been stable over the past two decades.
“They’re still popular with some collectors but probably not as popular as they were 20 years ago,” Jamieson said.
Upon seeing the error, he said: “This is a very nice perf shift error.”
Robertson said misperforated stamps are not as valuable as those with colours missing or dramatic colour shifts.
“In 2003, examples of the large-format moose $5 definitive (Scott No. 1693) were found with the engraved portion missing, which shows the animal,” Robertson said. “The catalogue value for one of those is $7,500 compared to a regular version at $10, both in mint condition.”
He said the moose stamp is the best-known of modern colour omission varieties, which is the most popular of recent printing errors.
In 1970, Robertson paid 12 cents for a misperfed six-cent Group of Seven commemorative (SC #518) that features Group of Seven artist Arthur Lismer’s Isles of Spruce painting, after the seller bought a pane at the Belleville, Ont. post office.
One with a wavy bar machine cancel was recently offered on the Internet for about $30.
Back in 1995, Robertson said, some of the three souvenir sheets featuring other Group of Seven paintings on 43-cent stamps (SC #1559-1561) were found misperforated.
“Ones I’ve seen with shifted perforations are not as dramatic in appearance as those on the Pansies sheets,” he said.
“In the most severe cases, ‘Canada’ was on the sheet instead of on the stamp,” Robertson said.
“Prices quoted for the 1995 errors are $100-to-$750 per sheet, depending on the degree of the perforation shift and the number of stamps on the sheet,” he said, adding that two of the sheets were issued with three stamps, one with four.
Establishing a value for the Pansies error sheets depends on the severity of the misperforation, Robertson said.
Canada Post issued the Pansies souvenir sheets, illustrated by first-time philatelic artist Laurie Koss, on March 2, with 135,000 supplied by Lowe-Martin. With each stamp having an 85-cent “P” denomination, post offices were selling the sheets for $1.70.
As for Levesque and Dallaire’s error sheets – the first discovered – they will be kept, for now.
“We will keep two for a while, and we may send one at auction, but at this time, we will wait a little to see if any others will show up,” said Dallaire.