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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Fine and Rare, Number 3

The "Fine and Rare" pages of this blog is a space where I sometimes share some of the "gems" (in my opinion) and favorites from my personal collections. Some will be rare, some will just be of exceptional quality, some will merely be unusual-- a few will be "all of the above."

Sweden 1877: 50 öre rose Ringtyp perf 13, very fine used example with manuscript marking "Aneby 2/3 82" in black ink, Facit number 36e.

For a lot of people, an "ink cancelled" stamp is either considered to be defective or worthless. After all, when we get a letter or package in the mail and the stamps have been "cancelled" by the mail carrier's ballpoint pen or marker, we tend to get annoyed because we think the stamps have been "ruined."

Indeed, this is true for most stamps, from most countries-- even old stamps. 

Ink "cancels" come about when postal workers at the original source post office somehow overlooked canceling the stamp on an envelope or package. Typically, it falls to the mail carrier making the final delivery to notice-- and then act on-- an uncancelled stamp in the mail stream. 

In Sweden, it was quite rare that stamps in the "classic" period (pre-1900) did not receive a proper postmark-- as such, ink cancellations are quite collectible, and become part of Swedish postmark collections. Unlike many other countries, an early ink cancellation from Sweden does not indicate a "revenue" usage... all such markings were applied to stamps in the actual mail stream.

What makes this particular stamp interesting is that it has the actual town and date fully written on it. Many stamps were canceled with a simple "X", OR the town and date were large enough to spill over onto the envelope. Although not really a "cancel" in the strict sense, stamps like these are prized by postal historians and cancel collectors alike.

This stamp came to me in an approval selection where it was marked "defective" and offered at 10% of the stamp's catalogue value. Needless to say, I was very happy to be able to add it to my cancel collection!

The base value of the 50 öre stamp in pale rose (Facit 36e) is 70:- Swedish kronor (or about US $11.50). The additional value of a "town and date" marking like this on a loose stamp from the classic period is a minimum of 400:- Swedish kr. (or about US $65.00), making this quite the "bargain" compared to its original price of about 70 cents.