One of my specialized collections is of the Swedish "Ringtyp" (sometimes called "Circle Type") issues of 1872-99. Within these old sets of stamps, my favourite issue is the so-called 20 öre "Double Print" stamp, which is unique in the world of philately.
The first ringtyp stamps were issued on July 1, 1872, to replace the previous "Vapentyp" ("arms" type) stamps. Nine values between 3 öre and 1 riksdaler were issued, all perforated 14, all with the same basic design: a large central numeral of value inside a circle or "ring." One of the primary reasons for this stamp issue was that the numbers on the previous vapentyp stamps were small and sometimes difficult to read-- the ringtyp design featured a much more prominent numeral inside a circle in the center of the stamp.
|Facit Nr. 22f, 20 öre printed in extremely pale orange|
As a result, the stamps were recalled by the Swedish Port Office (towards the later part of 1876), and it was decided that the stamps would be printed a SECOND time, this time in a brighter red colour-- rather than be destroyed.
Of course, with the fairly simple printing technology of the 1870s it was almost impossible for the printers to get perfect registration between the two colors, so most often the examples of the "double print" stamps we find have a faint "ghost image" of the paler colour-- on the stamp below, it can be seen in the right margin, and inside the large number 20. For a better look, click on the stamp and you'll get a much larger image to look at.
|A genuine example of the "Double Print" stamp|
Another thing that makes this stamp interesting for collectors of Sweden is the "treasure hunt" factor. Although the variety is listed in most major catalogues, very few descriptions exist to tell people what to look for. Most copies I have found have come from duplicate stocks of the "normal" 20 öre stamp. Odds are good that next time you find yourself at a stamp show, you might just find one of these in a dealer's box, not marked as a vareity!