World Stamp Catalogue/United States/1962 Dag Hammarskjold "Error Stamp"

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1962 Dag Hammarskjöld Error Stamp[edit]

On October 23, 1962 the USPS issued a 4¢ commemorative stamp honoring Dag Hammarskjöld, Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1953 to 1961. Several sheets were discovered with the yellow color inverted. Not wanting to create a rarity, the USPS decided to reprint the inverted stamps. The reprint was issued November 16, 1962. It was printed on a Giori press, 200 subjects per sheet, 4 panes per sheet, 50 stamps per pane.


Type I: the separation (white bar to right of UN building) between the yellow print of two stamps is typically 3 mm.

There are three varieties of the Dag Hammarskjold "error stamp". Two of these come from stamps on the left verticle column on a pane of 50 stamps. Each pane contains 50 stamps or subjects, 5(W) by 10(H), so there are 40 regular error stamps (first variety) and ten of one of the other varieties.

There are two types of panes, one with yellow color in the left margin (II) and one without (III). The pane without color in the left margin usually has a larger margin selvage. The different types of panes result from the different locations of the panes in the sheet (4 panes = 200 subjects = 1 full pane/sheet). Type II come from the right two panes and type III come from the left two panes. The yellow printing is offset to the right in relation to the brown and black colors. Typical separation (type I) between stamps is about 3 mm. The separation between the yellow printing of adjacent stamps varies at the left column of the right pane since there is a gutter separating it from the adjacent sheet. This results in a wider separation between the yellow print of about 10 mm for type II. The stamps from the left column of the left panes (type III) do not have yellow on the left margins.

There also exist many color shifted varieties. This is likely due to the lack of quality control during printing of the inverted sheet. Since the yellow color was deliberately inverted, there was less concern for the alignment of the two colors.

Number Issued[edit]

Since both types of panes exist on each full sheet, both exist in equal numbers so that equal numbers of varieties II and III exist.

The variety ratio is:

  • Type I - 0.80
  • Type II - 0.10
  • Type III - 0.10

The published quantity of inverted color stamps issued is 40,270,000 (about one third of the normal issue). Therefore, the three main varieties were issued as follows:

  • Type I: 0.80 * 40,270,000 = 32,216,000
  • Type II: 0.10 * 40,270,000 = 4,027,000
  • Type III: 0.10 * 40,270,000 = 4,027,000

These varieties are not scarce and therefore quite inexpensive. Most printed catalogues do not separately list and value these so one may easily find them among other common issues in a dealer's stock. Adding them to one's collection provides some depth, especially since the 1960s produced relatively few interesting philatelic items from the USPS.