Philatelists love to have errors, freaks, and/or oddities (commonly referred to as EFO) in their collection. EFO are the stamps or stationery when anything goes wrong during the production process such as dry ink, incorrect perforation, etc.,
Postal authorities generally utmost care to ensure there are no mistakes or errors before they get the material out of the printing plant. But still, there are many ways these come out into the market, which attracts the collectors than anyone else.
Here are a few of the interesting errors (EFOs) from my collection. I’ve added only postal stationery in this post considering the readers’ interest 🙂
A completely un-inked stamp or stationery design with no color is referred to as Albino. This mostly occurs when two sheets of paper are fed through the press at the same time, or if no ink is applied. Such errors are more common on postal stationery than stamps.
Albino with extra paper (odd cut)
During the printing process where an excessive amount of ink is applied to printing, plate causes an overly heavy impression which may make the design unrecognizable. These mostly occur during the time where the plates are being changed or due to the re-filling of ink. These are also referred to as ink smears that occur due to over-inking.
Postal envelop cover of India with over ink (ink smear)
Partial prints or Color shifts
A color shift occurs when one or more of the printing cylinders are out of register, causing overlapping of colors. However, on the postal stationery where mostly a single color is used, these look like partial prints. The partial prints might also occur due to an extra fold of paper, or a foreign object (extra sheet) placed between the print that creates an interesting effect.
Postal Envelop with partial ink print (Smudged ink)
Applying too little ink to a plate, usually at the end of a printing run can result in a very faint design that lacks color and distinction. These are also referred to as ink smears with under-inking.
Postal Envelop with dry print causing a half – albino effect
Also referred to as double transfer, this happens when a design is printed twice (overprint), with one impression slightly offset from the other. Depending on how the sheet has passed through the printing machine on the second occasion, it can result in a partial or full impression of the original design which could be straight, mirrored, or reversed.
Postal Envelop with Double strike (1 original and 1 in albino print)
Postal Envelop with Double strike (double print) Rare strike.
Misfold/paper shift/paper crease error
Miss-fold occurs when a sheet is misaligned, creating a shift across the entire sheet and causing the paper to fold while printing. This might occur either inside or outside positions. Another error type is a complete shift of the central image that results in the entire portion to shift into the other side or center of the sheet, which might result in the adjacent print also coming into view on the same sheet. These are also referred to as Preprint paper folds or paper creases.
Gandhi Centenary postcard (1969) with paper shift error
A new term where when the print sheet is misaligned and the impression is made in the other part of the sheet, instead of the actual position. This might occur sometimes on the rear side of the sheet as well. Fly prints are a little rare and stand as the first love to many philately collectors.
Postal Envelop with fly print (print on the rear side of the cover) with Albino strike as well.
Wrapper Band Stuck
Wrapper bands are normally the gray color bands that come either in the beginning or at the end of the sheet roll. Wrappers are used to continuously feed the sheets without any printing disruption, especially when the postal stationery is printed in lots. The philatelic stationery with wrapper bands is normally discarded as waste.
Indian Postcard with wrapper band strike
Indicia impressions (on flaps):
Indicia prints are most common and are referred to as metered prints. These are the replacement to postage stamps where the departments imprint a stamp in pre-defined color on each mail piece that signifies the postage has been prepaid. Indicia errors are little rare and can have any of the above errors such as Fly print, ink smear, etc.,
Indicia Impression (dry print) – Image courtesy – Wikipedia (not from my collection)