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The Hammarskjold Inverts: A Specialized Study

by Dennis Chamberlain
[The computer-enhanced color images for this article are on pages 36 and 37. JFD.]

1. The Hammarskjold Invert Error Double Matched Sets
Shown at the top of page 36 is a set of eight different Hammarskjold Plate Number Blocks (Mint Never Hinged). All eight plate blocks were printed from exactly the same plates (27279 and 27282) and have exactly the same plate numbers. They are displayed to show the unique features of the Hammarskjold Invert. The Invert Error Double Matched Set is unique to the Dag Hammarskjold commemorative and illustrates that the “Dag” is not two separate varieties, but one single variety printed two different ways. This scarce set of matched plate blocks was created as a direct result of the inverted yellow printing error and subsequent “special printing” of 1962, when two Hammarskjold commemorative sheets (400 stamps) were printed in error with inverted yellow color. Several error panes showed up in the hands of collectors. One lucky collector who discovered he had a complete pane of 50 error stamps estimated its value at $500,000, (a lot of money in 1962!) When government officials became aware of the error, Postmaster General J. Edward Day ordered that more of the errors be deliberately produced to completely destroy their value. They made a special printing of 40,270,000 stamps. Since that time, the philatelic community has pretty much treated Scott 1204, the reprint, as just another commemorative variety—but it’s not! It is a genuine Invert Error, the rarest type of error! Why continue to emphasize the way Sc. 1204 is similar to other stamps? Here are some ways it is different: First of all, there are four different Hammarskjold singles including the normal 1203 stamp. There are three face different single stamp varieties with the inverted yellow color, 80% of the inverts printed were variety 1, 10% variety 2 and 10% variety 3 (bottom of page 36). Today, while varieties 1 and 2 are common, variety 3 may be quite scarce. What is the most interesting feature of the Hammarskjold invert? Unlike the Pan-Am inverts of 1901 and Inverted Jenny of 1918, the 1962 invert does not show an inverted plane, train or automobile. This makes its single stamps much less impressive as an invert error. The most dramatic feature of the Hammarskjold invert is found only on the plate blocks. On every plate block there is an upside-down yellow number (top of page 36)! Anyone who is collecting the Hammarskjold as an invert error really needs to display a plate number block in their collection. But, which type should you save? There are two very different types of invert plate blocks: I call the plate blocks in the left panes Se-tenant Plate Blocks because they have face different, attached stamps, invert variety 2 on the left and invert variety 1 on the right. These se-tenant plate blocks may be the first U.S. se-

tenant variety, as they were printed two years before the 1964 Christmas stamps! They have white margins, and their yellow plate numbers are perfectly centered between the perforations. I call the plate blocks in the right panes Yellow Margin Plate Blocks because the yellow printing extends 8 mm into the margin. In the yellow printed margins you can clearly see the ghost-like upside-down “4C” denomination. [Visible in our computer enhanced image, upper right on page 36, arrow. JFD.] Unlike the Se-tenant Plate Blocks, the four stamps of the Yellow Margin Plate Blocks are all the same, invert variety 1. In these plate blocks the yellow plate number is dissected by the perforations. In November 1962, when millions of the error stamps were being printed, the Postmaster General’s public relations man was asked by a reporter how much he would pay for the misprints. Victory was declared in his answer, “four cents, no more.” Ironically, this printing was making philatelic history, for the same plates that were used for the correct printing were also being used in the deliberate error printing producing DOUBLE MATCHED SETS unique to the Hammarskjold commemorative. Eight different plate combinations were used and produced eight different double matched sets. The special printing produced a total of 201,350 of the invert matched sets, or an average of about 25,000 per plate combination. Obviously, only a small fraction of these sets could be assembled from the plate blocks that exist today. Today, the quantity of each of the eight sets is limited to its scarcest surviving plate block. In perspective, 150,000 of the recalled Legends of the West panes were released to collectors in 1994.

2. Four Hammarskjold Varieties and Yellow Printing Cross Gutter Block
Shown at the bottom of page 36 are the four Hammarskjold varieties. Across the top of page 37 is a yellow printing cross gutter block from Scott 1204, which is compared to a normal block of four of Scott 1203. That display contains two stamps that I call variety-3. (My description below tells why variety-3 is scarce and how it is different from any other U.S. stamp ever printed—a unique feature that has never been reported in the philatelic press. There are four Hammarskjold single varieties, the normal Scott 1203, and three different invert varieties of Scott 1204. The three invert varieties have never been officially recognized by the philatelic community, nevertheless they are real. The scarcest of the three, the one I call invert variety-3 holds quite an amazing and unique distinction. No other U.S. stamp ever printed shares its claim. This little stamp is part of three different panes! The Hammarskjold variety was printed in sheets of 200 stamps that were cut into four 50 stamp panes. The position of the pane can be identified by the location of the plate numbers as upper-left (UL), lower left (LL), upper-right (UR) or lower-right (LR). When the yellow printing was inverted, the yellow pane

June 2010

U.S. Stamp News

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