Embarrassment for Canada Post, a dream for collectors

Thanks to Canada Post, the summer of 2015 will be remembered as a hot one for stamp collectors.

While the Crown corporation has been raked over the coals by some for its hoodoo design error, this is stuff that dreams are made of for philatelists.

This is a significant error, and for some philatelists, this will be about profiting from the mistake. For other collectors, it’s about the hunt to add the image error to their collection.

“I think it’s a big one,” Garfield Portch, vice-president of the Vincent Graves Greene Philatelic Research Foundation, told Canadian Stamp News.

While it’s an exaggeration to compare it with the coveted St. Lawrence Seaway invert error, it will go down in Canadian history books as the first stamp ever recalled by the country’s postal authority.

It all began on July 3, when Canada Post released its third issue of the UNESCO World Heritage Site stamp series, which contained five stamps featuring Canadian parks. The error came to light when it was reported by the Calgary Herald that an executive from Canadian Badlands Tourism claimed the photo used for Dinosaur Provincial Park was not the right one.

It turns out that the hoodoos shown on the stamp are actually located in Drumheller, Alta., almost 200 kilometres away from Dinosaur Provincial Park.

Three days after the release, Canada Post officially recalled the stamps, asking its 6,000 postal offices and outlets to pull the affected stamp products off the shelves.

This created a flurry in the stamp world. As soon as I heard about it, I asked reporter Jesse Robitaille to go to our local outlets to see if the stamps were still available. Unfortunately, for us, the recall had already been implemented. However, other “stamp hunters” were lucky enough to still find them at their local post office or postal outlets.

As columnist Ian Robertson writes in this edition of CSN: “The decision to recall stocks and cancel customers’ standing mail orders guarantees the flub version will be listed at a much higher price in catalogues than its replacement.”

However, not knowing how many of the error stamps had already been purchased before the recall, or were scooped up right after the recall was announced, has created a very speculative market as we are witnessing on eBay.

As I write this column (July 20), there are 30 listings on eBay alone today (with total listings to date exceeding more than 100 … and growing). On this day, there is one listing attracting tremendous interest:  a first-day cover souvenir sheet which features three $1.20 stamps, including the hoodoos, and two international rate $2.50 stamps, postmarked July 3 in Red Bay, N.L. With heavy bidding (35 in total), the sheet sold for $234.69.

Robertson provides other examples of eBay sales along with a listing of other issued Canadian stamps with design mistakes, which makes for a fun read.

This story is far from over, with one thing for sure: Christmas in July certainly became a reality for our hobby. Happy hunting!

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