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United States/Stamps : Plate Singles - More information please

 

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lisagrant87
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It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light. - Aristotle Onassis

02 Mar 2013
06:46:40pm
I'm wondering how to determine a catalog value and possibly a sales value for plate singles. I own a Scott US Specialized Catalog and will soon own several other specialized catalogs but they seem to just give cv's for plate blocks of 4 or 6 stamps. Do any of you use a specific formula to determine the cv of a stamp with one selvedge containing the plate number? By catalog value, I mean the value you might put into your own database when describing the stamp. Would these stamps generally sell for 20-50% of cv depending on their rarity? I know this depends on the stamp to a large extent but I'm trying to get an idea of how collectors value these particular stamps.
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amsd
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Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads

02 Mar 2013
07:28:25pm
re: Plate Singles - More information please

Lisa, i think that most collectors don't care, and many prefer NO PNS or any other selvage for that matter; some, like me, would prefer the PNS over a similar single, but I am not likely to pay extra for it, or not much.

Neither Scott nor Durland value PNS.

Hope that helps

David

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Jlav

02 Mar 2013
08:36:15pm
re: Plate Singles - More information please

Lisa,

There is The American Plate Number Single Society (www.apnss.org). I believe they publish

the Heberts Guide to Plate Number Singles.

Jacques.

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michael78651
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02 Mar 2013
09:03:33pm
re: Plate Singles - More information please

Scott does have a note about how to do that. I don't recall where in the US Specialized it is. It works also for strips that are longer than what the catalog has values for.

Here's what you do:

If you only have a single, say it is Scott #3228:

Plate # strip of 5 has a catalog value (2013) of $2.25.

If you have a plate # single and it is used, Scott values it at $1.75. No need to do anything else about that.

If your plate number single is mint, never hinged, you will need to do some arithmetic:

1. take the value of the plate # strip of 5 = $2.25
2. find the value of a regular single stamp = $0.25
3. subtract the value of 4 singles from the plate number strip value = -$1.00
4. the value of the plate # single is $1.25

If you have a plate # strip that is larger than what the catalog has, say a strip of seven, you add the value of the regular single stamp to the strip of 5 value. The plate # coil strip of 7 would then have a catalog value of $2.75 ($2.25 + $0.50)


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cdj1122
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02 Mar 2013
10:55:09pm
re: Plate Singles - More information please

Lisa, with few exceptions Plate number blocks for US stamps issued after the 1940s are a drug on the market. That is why dealers often use them on philatelic mail to their customers.

The mania for blocks, especially with indica in the selvedge started over a hundred years ago. Postal Administrations simply printed and issued stamps as needed and only sometimes saved data for collectors. Often the plates wore out and were replaced, or were damaged and the engraving re-entered.
This created minor anomalies between what initially seemed like identical stamps from the same plate and same printing run.
However, occasionally collectors became suspicious that two or more plates had been used for a particular issue over time or a main plate had been repaired.
To investigate this possibility and prove the solution one way or another collectors sought multiple examples and tried to arrange the stamps as they had originally been laid out on the printed sheet.
The fun began when a collector acquired a pair of blocks of four where the stamp in ( for instance) the upper right quadrant of one had the identical minor variations as the stamp in the lower left quadrant of the other which then proved an overlap and identified the seven stamp's relationship to one another from the same printing plate.
If one of the blocks happened to have some identifying marking in, or on, the selvedge, that would help to determine what column and row the seven stamps were originally in. Perhaps then the collector discovered another strip of three stamps where one or two also over lapped and thus could be seen as to where it lay relevant to the other seven stamps as well, and in that way more and more of the stamp's plate's positions were identified.
Eventually it became obvious that either all the suspect singles were from one particular plate or that there were, in fact, two or more plates involved.
Probably the most authoritative and informative study of the early US stamps was compiled and written by Lester Brookman and titled, "The United States Postage Stamps of the 19th Century" (1947-Three volumes). In it, Mr Brookman explains how these details of different plates, even the unannounced existance of separate panes and how to decide if an example is from an original or a reprint. And that set is but one of several others devoted to plating those early printings.
So it was a challenge to acquire blocks, especially plate number blocks (PNB) and many advanced studies of the two or three plates used for one of these classic stamps won admiration and awards at stamp exhibitions. That kind of research kept some famous philatelists busy for years and years.

However, in recent years, most ( not all. ) postal administrations announce when a new printing is being released and the plates usually have numbers or identifying letters so much of that mystery is gone. But old habits die hard and collectors like to display the PNBs, especially a matched set of four, although there is not really any real philatelic necessity for doing so.
Also since the mid '30s the printing has been increasingly controlled by electro-mechanical alignment contraptions

So if you like the way a block of four or six looks, with or without numbers, or even a number single, enjoy yourself. There are times when I come across a block that bears a clear cancellation more of less centered and I may like keeping it that way. But when I buy a block at our local post office they are used on my mail and some are returned to me by my recipients to be added to my postally used collections.

Of course the foregoing mostly is aimed at blocks of identical stamps, not where there are mixed pairs, triptychs or quadritychs, which sometimes would lose meaning if separated.

At one time in the distant philatelic past I suppose that acquiring mint, never hinged stamps might have been more difficult as stamp issuing agencies only printed what they needed and expected to sell to the user. They were oblivious or nearly so to the possibility that anyone might want to gather these pieces of paper into a collection and often produced new issues or used new plates with little notice to the world at all.
In those days almost all postage stamps were purchased and used for the mail. So then unused stamps from that era had a premium as they were more difficult to find.
However at some point issuing agencies realized that there was money to be made in issuing stamps in excess of actual needs to be sold to the collector. In fact, certain quasi-nations printed and sold enough that stamp sales profits became a significant component of their annual budget. Flooding the hobby with issues that while technically possessing postal validity had no other postal need brought them a nice subsidy.
An interesting thing developed about eighty or ninety years ago in the stamp collecting community. The general public became aware that there was a profit to be made by buying and holding (not necessarily collecting) sheets, blocks, margin and plate blocks, and even single copies of used and unused postage stamps. Some famous collectors had paid great sums for such beauties for the reasons explained above and this was reported in the philatelic press as well as the general news publications of the day.
The philatelic hobby grew as collecting stamps became more and more popular. Speculators took notice that small pieces of paper that were originally bought for pennies were being sold for dollars or pounds. Many dollars or pounds.
However the typical speculator had a problem. He was not interested in the many details of the stamps that so intrigue collectors and often separate the rare from the mundane. He was accumulating for one reason, to make a profit. And the one thing that he did not want to be told when he went to sell his investment was that some scrape or smudge from having been passed through the mails system or a hinge remnant made his investment worth less than he thought inflation and growth over time ought to have generated. After all, he was in it for the investment potential. Perhaps at that point some dealers tended to exaggerate the importance of some minor defects so that they could offer a lower price. Either way great emphasis and subsequently a higher price was placed on the perfect mint copy.
So speculators demanded pristine, mint, "never in the same room as a hinge", copies. Postal administrations caught on and began to print more and more of each issue and longer sets. They started to commemorate everything and anything that they thought would be popular and the deluge gathered a momentum that still exists today.
Today almost every issuing agency produces what has become a flood of new issues. The modern collectors are often drawn into the game, purchasing stamps in different formats and of popular topics. World wide collecting has suffered. A complete set of Minkus or Scott's World Wide albums alone range in the vicinity of $4,500 without considering the cost of interleaving sheets, hinges or dust binders.
Most collectors seem to have decided that a single country or area or some interesting theme is the way to go. To assemble a modern mint collection of one or more countries, the primary requirement is ample funds. New issue services abound for most nations stamps as well as a myriad of topics. All it takes is money. Stamps are more and more attractive and ever more innovative. Formats have been created that did not exist fifty years ago and personally have no more reason for their existence than to stroke the golden goose, or geese. Smaller panes create more plate and position blocks and thus the necessity of spending more money for "completeness".
Then there came another complicating factor. Printed indica are cost efficient and ever more common and today e-mail has become faster and somewhat easier to convey messages. The majority of mail no longer bears an actual stamp. Those envelopes that do carry stamps often are not even cancelled. Those that do pass through the tender handling of the converted grain harvesters that apply cancels are likely to show the marks of that procedure. Postal services have chosen to only send limited amounts of their somewhat excessive sets and issues to local sales outlets.
So the collector who has chosen to collect decent postally used copies of the stamps of the USA or UK finds that pristine mint stamps are available from dealers and new issue services while nicely cancelled copies of stamps that actually went through the mail are becoming the proverbial "hen's teeth" of philately. Quite a few dealers avoid handling used stamps altogether unless a particular stamp has a significant premium. In fact many dealers have opted to take mint sheets to the post office and have them favor cancelled when they want to provide used stamps to the market. Technically such stamps are not used, they are cancelled and handed back over the counter to the dealer.
Therefore, in today’s world, mint never hinged stamps are often more numerous and easier to obtain. People who bought large numbers of plate number blocks are discovering the sad truth when they try to sell their stamps.

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DRYER
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03 Mar 2013
01:42:00pm
re: Plate Singles - More information please

I am breathless when confronted with Charlie's philatelic knowledge, information and experiences. He always makes me feel like a newcomer to the stamp-collecting hobby, and I have learned so much from reading his entertaining opinions.

My guess, and it is only a guess, is that the majority of stamp collectors don't give a tinker's dam about the resale potential of their stamps. Personally, I am in this hobby for the sheer enjoyment of it. Yes, I also get enjoyment imagining that some of my stamps are pricey treasures. I have yet to sell a stamp so no sad truths have corroded my enjoyment of the hobby. "Cashing in" my stamps is, fortunately, a necessity I've been spared.

Overall, I think Stamporama's discussion page discusses stamp values to a greater degree than other aspects of the hobby because we've all experienced its costs and want to share those experiences.

When I finally arrive at that (admission-free) great big dead-letter office in the sky, I hope it is with a smile on my face.

John Derry

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Mike

03 Mar 2013
09:40:40pm
re: Plate Singles - More information please

I am breathless when confronted with Charlie's philatelic knowledge, information and experiences. He always makes me feel like a newcomer to the stamp-collecting hobby, and I have learned so much from reading his entertaining opinions.

That's funny John, I feel the same way, plus I feel that I must have lead a very mundane life, compared to Charlie's adventures, plus a few of the others here. Not that I regret the life that I've lived, but WOW, I seem to have missed a lot, compared to some of the stories and adventures here on SOR. Then I step back and think about some of the people that I have told some of my stories to and the fact that they were in awe of some of the places that I've been and things I've done, so I guess it balances out.

Mike

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parkinlot
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04 Mar 2013
06:43:26am
re: Plate Singles - More information please

The standard catalog for Plate Number Singles is Herbert's Standard Plate Number Single Catalogue. Values both Mint and Used PNS. I have the 2000 version.

Bob

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lisagrant87
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It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light. - Aristotle Onassis

04 Mar 2013
07:10:25pm
re: Plate Singles - More information please

You all never fail to disappoint!! The knowledge of the members on this site is second to none! Thank you all for your help!

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drmicro68
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04 Mar 2013
07:30:52pm
re: Plate Singles - More information please

I am not a member of APNS, but I do look for used plate number singles on cover--just an intriguing sideline to me other interests. PNC's are another side interest--stoked by the number of PNC's on commercial covers that I receive. I am working on an exhibit that discusses PNC's on cover and connects them with the commercial entities that use the stamps. A lot of what I have are local to where I live, which makes it even more fun. And that's what it's about for me--fun.

Roger

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Les
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19 Mar 2013
04:02:16pm
re: Plate Singles - More information please

Bravo Charlie!
Now I have a reason to read my latest acquisition: an autographed copy of the two volume set Brookman's Postage Stamps of the 19th Century.

Plate numbers used to tell you which plate was used to print the stamp. There was also a degree of scarcity with a plate number attached to a block or single. There are only 4 plate numbers on a sheet of 200 stamps. However, one also needs a buyer who wants the scarce item.

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BobbyBarnhart
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They who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. -Benjamin Franklin

23 Mar 2013
11:01:53am
re: Plate Singles - More information please

Lisa,

I have been collecting plate singles since the early 1980s. To get most plate singles, I would buy plate blocks below face, detach a single stamp with the plate #, and use the remainder for postage. Of course in those days almost all stamps from the 1940s forward could be purchased this way, but even now you can get a lot of plate blocks from the 1960s and later at face at stamp bourses. A bonus is the fun you can have telling "purists" how you mutilated plate blocks to get the stamps you wanted.



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gregsvoboda

27 Apr 2013
09:06:47pm
re: Plate Singles - More information please

Like Roger, I also save PNCs on cover from my mail or some I have rescued from the trash at work. Don't know exactly what I will do with them yet. I guesss I am not a purist because I have both mint and used plate number singles in my albums.

Greg

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bulldog
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28 Apr 2013
06:17:38am

Auctions
re: Plate Singles - More information please

Greg,
I also collect PNCs on cover and have many, many duplicates to trade. If you are interested, please let me know {through private message or find my email on my profile}.
Terry

(Modified by Moderator on 2013-04-28 10:25:43)

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saleem
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28 Apr 2013
08:09:45am
re: Plate Singles - More information please

A few years back I was totally into used PNCs (Plate Number Coils) and not PNSs/PNBs Plate Number Singles/Blocks. Have a fairly decent collection kept in a stockbook somewhere Smug
I even prepared a personalized PNC album and have sold a few copies of the PDF version at eBay in the past. Then I started preparing a PNC strip of 3 and strip of 5 album pages but got tangled into other more interesting collections (Airmail singles on covers) which has kept me away from album creation and updating of the PNC singles album. I kept accumulating PNC singles all the time and these need sorting. Have a few on cover and postcard examples which I am planning to put at auction here at SOR time permitting Day Dreaming.

Here are a few good sites for US Plate Numbers:
http://dd-designs.co/PNT/PNT_home.htm
http://www.pnc3.org/
http://www.apnss.org/

(Modified by Moderator on 2013-04-28 08:54:41)

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amsd
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Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads

28 Apr 2013
06:00:47pm
re: Plate Singles - More information please

once upon a time, i, too, collected PNCs. Saleem's excel sheets were inspiriational, and floored me with detail i'd never even considered, but knowing, i could ID. it was a monumental task....

for me, failor's printing changes just made PNCs irrelevant and i gave them up.

moved to seals and AMSDs and odd rates

still have the skeleton of my abandoned PNC collection

David

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BobbyBarnhart
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28 Apr 2013
06:19:32pm
re: Plate Singles - More information please

Really do not how we segued from PNS's to PNC's, but anyway...

I collected PNC's from their inception until the mid 90s. However, when the standard changed from a strip of 3 with the PNC in the center, to a strip of 5, I stopped. Just made no sense to me. The only rationale I could call up was the USPS promoted it to sell more stamps.

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larsdog
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APS #220693 ATA#57179

04 May 2013
01:20:48am
re: Plate Singles - More information please

I collect PNS and PNC singles when the plate number matters. I consider them mini-certs. I also collect partial plate number booklet panes for the same reason, but only when useful for identifying varieties.

Here they are useful for identifying wet/dry printing which means the difference between the Stickney Press and Huck/Cottrell Press (Huck was a prototype of Cottrell):

Image Not Found

Partial plate number panes can do the same thing:

Image Not Found

Subtle Type Differences are easily documented with a plate number:

Image Not Found

Plate number singles (and PNC singles) can also identify modern press differences (e.g. A Press v. C Press):

Image Not Found

So what is the plate number worth? In some cases, to me, it's worth the price of a certificate of authenticity! I recently completed an upgrade to my 3rd Bureau Offset Printing page (no image yet - sorry) to include plate number singles for everything. I got the 528A (plate number 11587) at auction for only $5.83 and FREE shipping. The CV for a single is $47.50 (Scott). Plate number single is $67.50 (Hebert), likely recognizing the authenticating effect of the plate number. I'm not sure how many folks recognize the value of plate number singles in some cases.

And thanks to all the disillusioned PNC collectors out there, I am able to pick up PNC3 strips for very little over face value and rip out the PNC single for my needs. The rest is outbound postage.





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khj
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04 May 2013
01:28:32am
re: Plate Singles - More information please

Nice custom made pages, Lars!

I agree, having the plate single is an excellent way of essentially certifying some stamp varieties.

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larsdog
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APS #220693 ATA#57179

04 May 2013
01:35:35am
re: Plate Singles - More information please

Thanks, Kim.

I like the White Ace pages because they offer various configurations of blank pages and can be printed in any printer that will handle 8-1/2" x 11" light card stock. I use Fireworks, but any graphics package will do. I use the purchased pages 90% of the time for Commemoratives, but I make my own pages for just about everything else in the modern era. I am spoiled by the flexibility.

Lars

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saleem
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04 May 2013
10:24:04am
re: Plate Singles - More information please

Excellent custom pages Lars, got a few pointers for my own album pages (under serious consideration since past few years Thinking). Your display on the Wet/Dry printings and the different press printings took some hard work. Way to go!

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larsdog
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APS #220693 ATA#57179

04 May 2013
09:53:48pm
re: Plate Singles - More information please

Thanks, saleem.

My entire collection can be viewed online. The link is below my avatar. Feel free to copy any ideas you wish and feel free to critique if you think I got something wrong. There are still a few areas I am undecided on.

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DavidG
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APS member since 2004

30 Jun 2013
11:49:08am
re: Plate Singles - More information please

Lovely stamps, all.

I collect used USA to 2000 (and all airmails and BOB). After 2000, just the stamps I like.

I collect ALL marginal markings on ALL USA airs and on US stamps 1976-2000 (13c - 33c rate). I don't know why... I just love them. I think the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s was the "heyday" or US marginal markings.

It can be a challenge getting them with in-period postmarks, but I'll take any used that I can get.

I have a bunch of mint and used ones to trade if anyone is interested.

David
Ottawa, Canada

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larsdog
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APS #220693 ATA#57179

30 Jun 2013
10:24:54pm
re: Plate Singles - More information please

David, one of my favorite marginal inscriptions is the not uncommon error on the Hubert Humphrey stamp that has the wrong years for his term. Finding THAT used on piece would be a real find!

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tedlawrence

30 Jun 2013
10:54:00pm
re: Plate Singles - More information please

Generally speaking, the older a stamp is, the greater a premium is added for PNS. On US Stamps ,I would add little value to PNS's ,on any stamp after 1930.Any pre 1900 PNS is saleable especially if it's mint.

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drmicro68
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01 Jul 2013
11:58:48pm
re: Plate Singles - More information please

Ted - for me the fun of PNS's & PNC's is the hunt & the pleasure of finding one used on cover. I have an eclectic accumulation of commercial covers (hasn't made it into the organized collection status quite yet...) of PNC's. And they've almost all been mailed to me. For PNS's, on cover or off is OK. And saleable? I don't care--they're mine and I enjoy them.
Roger

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larsdog
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APS #220693 ATA#57179

05 Jul 2013
07:43:03pm
re: Plate Singles - More information please

Ted,

I would disagree. Look at 2122 and 2122b. These can be difficult to tell apart without a reference collection, but plate number singles make them unambiguous. That "mini cert" attached to the stamp commands a slight premium.

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22 Sep 2016
10:12:20am
re: Plate Singles - More information please

At a good price, I just bought a C14 Zep with a large numbered tab on the right. I am very tempted to tear the thing off or fold it under because it would stick out of the box on my album page.

Not that I haven't done that before. I have a few interesting pairs that I mounted that way. But this is just a bare selvedge with a number.

Thoughts?

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amsd
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Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads

22 Sep 2016
10:41:46am
re: Plate Singles - More information please

don't do it, Joe

that makes it the sole one of its kind from that pane, so it represents 2% of the issue, making it far rarer.....

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michael78651
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22 Sep 2016
08:43:48pm
re: Plate Singles - More information please

If you don't want the stamp with the plate number, sell it, and then use the proceeds to buy another without the plate number. You'll probably have enough money left over to buy more stamps. Depending on the stamp's condition, I would surmise that the plate number adds at least 50% to 100% to the value.

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DavidG
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APS member since 2004

22 Sep 2016
09:34:32pm
re: Plate Singles - More information please

"David, one of my favorite marginal inscriptions is the not uncommon error on the Hubert Humphrey stamp that has the wrong years for his term. Finding THAT used on piece would be a real find!"



I have the stamp with the error marginal marking, used, in-period!

David
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larsdog
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APS #220693 ATA#57179

22 Sep 2016
09:55:59pm
re: Plate Singles - More information please

"I have the stamp with the error marginal marking, used, in-period!"



Unless there was a large concerted effort to create postally used examples of that error, it seems that you have quite a rarity. Well done!

Lars

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It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light. - Aristotle Onassis
02 Mar 2013
06:46:40pm

I'm wondering how to determine a catalog value and possibly a sales value for plate singles. I own a Scott US Specialized Catalog and will soon own several other specialized catalogs but they seem to just give cv's for plate blocks of 4 or 6 stamps. Do any of you use a specific formula to determine the cv of a stamp with one selvedge containing the plate number? By catalog value, I mean the value you might put into your own database when describing the stamp. Would these stamps generally sell for 20-50% of cv depending on their rarity? I know this depends on the stamp to a large extent but I'm trying to get an idea of how collectors value these particular stamps.

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amsd

Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
02 Mar 2013
07:28:25pm

re: Plate Singles - More information please

Lisa, i think that most collectors don't care, and many prefer NO PNS or any other selvage for that matter; some, like me, would prefer the PNS over a similar single, but I am not likely to pay extra for it, or not much.

Neither Scott nor Durland value PNS.

Hope that helps

David

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Jlav

02 Mar 2013
08:36:15pm

re: Plate Singles - More information please

Lisa,

There is The American Plate Number Single Society (www.apnss.org). I believe they publish

the Heberts Guide to Plate Number Singles.

Jacques.

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michael78651

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02 Mar 2013
09:03:33pm

re: Plate Singles - More information please

Scott does have a note about how to do that. I don't recall where in the US Specialized it is. It works also for strips that are longer than what the catalog has values for.

Here's what you do:

If you only have a single, say it is Scott #3228:

Plate # strip of 5 has a catalog value (2013) of $2.25.

If you have a plate # single and it is used, Scott values it at $1.75. No need to do anything else about that.

If your plate number single is mint, never hinged, you will need to do some arithmetic:

1. take the value of the plate # strip of 5 = $2.25
2. find the value of a regular single stamp = $0.25
3. subtract the value of 4 singles from the plate number strip value = -$1.00
4. the value of the plate # single is $1.25

If you have a plate # strip that is larger than what the catalog has, say a strip of seven, you add the value of the regular single stamp to the strip of 5 value. The plate # coil strip of 7 would then have a catalog value of $2.75 ($2.25 + $0.50)


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02 Mar 2013
10:55:09pm

re: Plate Singles - More information please

Lisa, with few exceptions Plate number blocks for US stamps issued after the 1940s are a drug on the market. That is why dealers often use them on philatelic mail to their customers.

The mania for blocks, especially with indica in the selvedge started over a hundred years ago. Postal Administrations simply printed and issued stamps as needed and only sometimes saved data for collectors. Often the plates wore out and were replaced, or were damaged and the engraving re-entered.
This created minor anomalies between what initially seemed like identical stamps from the same plate and same printing run.
However, occasionally collectors became suspicious that two or more plates had been used for a particular issue over time or a main plate had been repaired.
To investigate this possibility and prove the solution one way or another collectors sought multiple examples and tried to arrange the stamps as they had originally been laid out on the printed sheet.
The fun began when a collector acquired a pair of blocks of four where the stamp in ( for instance) the upper right quadrant of one had the identical minor variations as the stamp in the lower left quadrant of the other which then proved an overlap and identified the seven stamp's relationship to one another from the same printing plate.
If one of the blocks happened to have some identifying marking in, or on, the selvedge, that would help to determine what column and row the seven stamps were originally in. Perhaps then the collector discovered another strip of three stamps where one or two also over lapped and thus could be seen as to where it lay relevant to the other seven stamps as well, and in that way more and more of the stamp's plate's positions were identified.
Eventually it became obvious that either all the suspect singles were from one particular plate or that there were, in fact, two or more plates involved.
Probably the most authoritative and informative study of the early US stamps was compiled and written by Lester Brookman and titled, "The United States Postage Stamps of the 19th Century" (1947-Three volumes). In it, Mr Brookman explains how these details of different plates, even the unannounced existance of separate panes and how to decide if an example is from an original or a reprint. And that set is but one of several others devoted to plating those early printings.
So it was a challenge to acquire blocks, especially plate number blocks (PNB) and many advanced studies of the two or three plates used for one of these classic stamps won admiration and awards at stamp exhibitions. That kind of research kept some famous philatelists busy for years and years.

However, in recent years, most ( not all. ) postal administrations announce when a new printing is being released and the plates usually have numbers or identifying letters so much of that mystery is gone. But old habits die hard and collectors like to display the PNBs, especially a matched set of four, although there is not really any real philatelic necessity for doing so.
Also since the mid '30s the printing has been increasingly controlled by electro-mechanical alignment contraptions

So if you like the way a block of four or six looks, with or without numbers, or even a number single, enjoy yourself. There are times when I come across a block that bears a clear cancellation more of less centered and I may like keeping it that way. But when I buy a block at our local post office they are used on my mail and some are returned to me by my recipients to be added to my postally used collections.

Of course the foregoing mostly is aimed at blocks of identical stamps, not where there are mixed pairs, triptychs or quadritychs, which sometimes would lose meaning if separated.

At one time in the distant philatelic past I suppose that acquiring mint, never hinged stamps might have been more difficult as stamp issuing agencies only printed what they needed and expected to sell to the user. They were oblivious or nearly so to the possibility that anyone might want to gather these pieces of paper into a collection and often produced new issues or used new plates with little notice to the world at all.
In those days almost all postage stamps were purchased and used for the mail. So then unused stamps from that era had a premium as they were more difficult to find.
However at some point issuing agencies realized that there was money to be made in issuing stamps in excess of actual needs to be sold to the collector. In fact, certain quasi-nations printed and sold enough that stamp sales profits became a significant component of their annual budget. Flooding the hobby with issues that while technically possessing postal validity had no other postal need brought them a nice subsidy.
An interesting thing developed about eighty or ninety years ago in the stamp collecting community. The general public became aware that there was a profit to be made by buying and holding (not necessarily collecting) sheets, blocks, margin and plate blocks, and even single copies of used and unused postage stamps. Some famous collectors had paid great sums for such beauties for the reasons explained above and this was reported in the philatelic press as well as the general news publications of the day.
The philatelic hobby grew as collecting stamps became more and more popular. Speculators took notice that small pieces of paper that were originally bought for pennies were being sold for dollars or pounds. Many dollars or pounds.
However the typical speculator had a problem. He was not interested in the many details of the stamps that so intrigue collectors and often separate the rare from the mundane. He was accumulating for one reason, to make a profit. And the one thing that he did not want to be told when he went to sell his investment was that some scrape or smudge from having been passed through the mails system or a hinge remnant made his investment worth less than he thought inflation and growth over time ought to have generated. After all, he was in it for the investment potential. Perhaps at that point some dealers tended to exaggerate the importance of some minor defects so that they could offer a lower price. Either way great emphasis and subsequently a higher price was placed on the perfect mint copy.
So speculators demanded pristine, mint, "never in the same room as a hinge", copies. Postal administrations caught on and began to print more and more of each issue and longer sets. They started to commemorate everything and anything that they thought would be popular and the deluge gathered a momentum that still exists today.
Today almost every issuing agency produces what has become a flood of new issues. The modern collectors are often drawn into the game, purchasing stamps in different formats and of popular topics. World wide collecting has suffered. A complete set of Minkus or Scott's World Wide albums alone range in the vicinity of $4,500 without considering the cost of interleaving sheets, hinges or dust binders.
Most collectors seem to have decided that a single country or area or some interesting theme is the way to go. To assemble a modern mint collection of one or more countries, the primary requirement is ample funds. New issue services abound for most nations stamps as well as a myriad of topics. All it takes is money. Stamps are more and more attractive and ever more innovative. Formats have been created that did not exist fifty years ago and personally have no more reason for their existence than to stroke the golden goose, or geese. Smaller panes create more plate and position blocks and thus the necessity of spending more money for "completeness".
Then there came another complicating factor. Printed indica are cost efficient and ever more common and today e-mail has become faster and somewhat easier to convey messages. The majority of mail no longer bears an actual stamp. Those envelopes that do carry stamps often are not even cancelled. Those that do pass through the tender handling of the converted grain harvesters that apply cancels are likely to show the marks of that procedure. Postal services have chosen to only send limited amounts of their somewhat excessive sets and issues to local sales outlets.
So the collector who has chosen to collect decent postally used copies of the stamps of the USA or UK finds that pristine mint stamps are available from dealers and new issue services while nicely cancelled copies of stamps that actually went through the mail are becoming the proverbial "hen's teeth" of philately. Quite a few dealers avoid handling used stamps altogether unless a particular stamp has a significant premium. In fact many dealers have opted to take mint sheets to the post office and have them favor cancelled when they want to provide used stamps to the market. Technically such stamps are not used, they are cancelled and handed back over the counter to the dealer.
Therefore, in today’s world, mint never hinged stamps are often more numerous and easier to obtain. People who bought large numbers of plate number blocks are discovering the sad truth when they try to sell their stamps.

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03 Mar 2013
01:42:00pm

re: Plate Singles - More information please

I am breathless when confronted with Charlie's philatelic knowledge, information and experiences. He always makes me feel like a newcomer to the stamp-collecting hobby, and I have learned so much from reading his entertaining opinions.

My guess, and it is only a guess, is that the majority of stamp collectors don't give a tinker's dam about the resale potential of their stamps. Personally, I am in this hobby for the sheer enjoyment of it. Yes, I also get enjoyment imagining that some of my stamps are pricey treasures. I have yet to sell a stamp so no sad truths have corroded my enjoyment of the hobby. "Cashing in" my stamps is, fortunately, a necessity I've been spared.

Overall, I think Stamporama's discussion page discusses stamp values to a greater degree than other aspects of the hobby because we've all experienced its costs and want to share those experiences.

When I finally arrive at that (admission-free) great big dead-letter office in the sky, I hope it is with a smile on my face.

John Derry

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Mike
03 Mar 2013
09:40:40pm

re: Plate Singles - More information please

I am breathless when confronted with Charlie's philatelic knowledge, information and experiences. He always makes me feel like a newcomer to the stamp-collecting hobby, and I have learned so much from reading his entertaining opinions.

That's funny John, I feel the same way, plus I feel that I must have lead a very mundane life, compared to Charlie's adventures, plus a few of the others here. Not that I regret the life that I've lived, but WOW, I seem to have missed a lot, compared to some of the stories and adventures here on SOR. Then I step back and think about some of the people that I have told some of my stories to and the fact that they were in awe of some of the places that I've been and things I've done, so I guess it balances out.

Mike

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04 Mar 2013
06:43:26am

re: Plate Singles - More information please

The standard catalog for Plate Number Singles is Herbert's Standard Plate Number Single Catalogue. Values both Mint and Used PNS. I have the 2000 version.

Bob

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04 Mar 2013
07:10:25pm

re: Plate Singles - More information please

You all never fail to disappoint!! The knowledge of the members on this site is second to none! Thank you all for your help!

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drmicro68

04 Mar 2013
07:30:52pm

re: Plate Singles - More information please

I am not a member of APNS, but I do look for used plate number singles on cover--just an intriguing sideline to me other interests. PNC's are another side interest--stoked by the number of PNC's on commercial covers that I receive. I am working on an exhibit that discusses PNC's on cover and connects them with the commercial entities that use the stamps. A lot of what I have are local to where I live, which makes it even more fun. And that's what it's about for me--fun.

Roger

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Les

19 Mar 2013
04:02:16pm

re: Plate Singles - More information please

Bravo Charlie!
Now I have a reason to read my latest acquisition: an autographed copy of the two volume set Brookman's Postage Stamps of the 19th Century.

Plate numbers used to tell you which plate was used to print the stamp. There was also a degree of scarcity with a plate number attached to a block or single. There are only 4 plate numbers on a sheet of 200 stamps. However, one also needs a buyer who wants the scarce item.

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23 Mar 2013
11:01:53am

re: Plate Singles - More information please

Lisa,

I have been collecting plate singles since the early 1980s. To get most plate singles, I would buy plate blocks below face, detach a single stamp with the plate #, and use the remainder for postage. Of course in those days almost all stamps from the 1940s forward could be purchased this way, but even now you can get a lot of plate blocks from the 1960s and later at face at stamp bourses. A bonus is the fun you can have telling "purists" how you mutilated plate blocks to get the stamps you wanted.



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gregsvoboda

27 Apr 2013
09:06:47pm

re: Plate Singles - More information please

Like Roger, I also save PNCs on cover from my mail or some I have rescued from the trash at work. Don't know exactly what I will do with them yet. I guesss I am not a purist because I have both mint and used plate number singles in my albums.

Greg

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bulldog

28 Apr 2013
06:17:38am

Auctions

re: Plate Singles - More information please

Greg,
I also collect PNCs on cover and have many, many duplicates to trade. If you are interested, please let me know {through private message or find my email on my profile}.
Terry

(Modified by Moderator on 2013-04-28 10:25:43)

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saleem

28 Apr 2013
08:09:45am

re: Plate Singles - More information please

A few years back I was totally into used PNCs (Plate Number Coils) and not PNSs/PNBs Plate Number Singles/Blocks. Have a fairly decent collection kept in a stockbook somewhere Smug
I even prepared a personalized PNC album and have sold a few copies of the PDF version at eBay in the past. Then I started preparing a PNC strip of 3 and strip of 5 album pages but got tangled into other more interesting collections (Airmail singles on covers) which has kept me away from album creation and updating of the PNC singles album. I kept accumulating PNC singles all the time and these need sorting. Have a few on cover and postcard examples which I am planning to put at auction here at SOR time permitting Day Dreaming.

Here are a few good sites for US Plate Numbers:
http://dd-designs.co/PNT/PNT_home.htm
http://www.pnc3.org/
http://www.apnss.org/

(Modified by Moderator on 2013-04-28 08:54:41)

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amsd

Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
28 Apr 2013
06:00:47pm

re: Plate Singles - More information please

once upon a time, i, too, collected PNCs. Saleem's excel sheets were inspiriational, and floored me with detail i'd never even considered, but knowing, i could ID. it was a monumental task....

for me, failor's printing changes just made PNCs irrelevant and i gave them up.

moved to seals and AMSDs and odd rates

still have the skeleton of my abandoned PNC collection

David

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28 Apr 2013
06:19:32pm

re: Plate Singles - More information please

Really do not how we segued from PNS's to PNC's, but anyway...

I collected PNC's from their inception until the mid 90s. However, when the standard changed from a strip of 3 with the PNC in the center, to a strip of 5, I stopped. Just made no sense to me. The only rationale I could call up was the USPS promoted it to sell more stamps.

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larsdog

APS #220693 ATA#57179
04 May 2013
01:20:48am

re: Plate Singles - More information please

I collect PNS and PNC singles when the plate number matters. I consider them mini-certs. I also collect partial plate number booklet panes for the same reason, but only when useful for identifying varieties.

Here they are useful for identifying wet/dry printing which means the difference between the Stickney Press and Huck/Cottrell Press (Huck was a prototype of Cottrell):

Image Not Found

Partial plate number panes can do the same thing:

Image Not Found

Subtle Type Differences are easily documented with a plate number:

Image Not Found

Plate number singles (and PNC singles) can also identify modern press differences (e.g. A Press v. C Press):

Image Not Found

So what is the plate number worth? In some cases, to me, it's worth the price of a certificate of authenticity! I recently completed an upgrade to my 3rd Bureau Offset Printing page (no image yet - sorry) to include plate number singles for everything. I got the 528A (plate number 11587) at auction for only $5.83 and FREE shipping. The CV for a single is $47.50 (Scott). Plate number single is $67.50 (Hebert), likely recognizing the authenticating effect of the plate number. I'm not sure how many folks recognize the value of plate number singles in some cases.

And thanks to all the disillusioned PNC collectors out there, I am able to pick up PNC3 strips for very little over face value and rip out the PNC single for my needs. The rest is outbound postage.





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khj

04 May 2013
01:28:32am

re: Plate Singles - More information please

Nice custom made pages, Lars!

I agree, having the plate single is an excellent way of essentially certifying some stamp varieties.

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larsdog

APS #220693 ATA#57179
04 May 2013
01:35:35am

re: Plate Singles - More information please

Thanks, Kim.

I like the White Ace pages because they offer various configurations of blank pages and can be printed in any printer that will handle 8-1/2" x 11" light card stock. I use Fireworks, but any graphics package will do. I use the purchased pages 90% of the time for Commemoratives, but I make my own pages for just about everything else in the modern era. I am spoiled by the flexibility.

Lars

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saleem

04 May 2013
10:24:04am

re: Plate Singles - More information please

Excellent custom pages Lars, got a few pointers for my own album pages (under serious consideration since past few years Thinking). Your display on the Wet/Dry printings and the different press printings took some hard work. Way to go!

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larsdog

APS #220693 ATA#57179
04 May 2013
09:53:48pm

re: Plate Singles - More information please

Thanks, saleem.

My entire collection can be viewed online. The link is below my avatar. Feel free to copy any ideas you wish and feel free to critique if you think I got something wrong. There are still a few areas I am undecided on.

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DavidG

APS member since 2004
30 Jun 2013
11:49:08am

re: Plate Singles - More information please

Lovely stamps, all.

I collect used USA to 2000 (and all airmails and BOB). After 2000, just the stamps I like.

I collect ALL marginal markings on ALL USA airs and on US stamps 1976-2000 (13c - 33c rate). I don't know why... I just love them. I think the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s was the "heyday" or US marginal markings.

It can be a challenge getting them with in-period postmarks, but I'll take any used that I can get.

I have a bunch of mint and used ones to trade if anyone is interested.

David
Ottawa, Canada

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larsdog

APS #220693 ATA#57179
30 Jun 2013
10:24:54pm

re: Plate Singles - More information please

David, one of my favorite marginal inscriptions is the not uncommon error on the Hubert Humphrey stamp that has the wrong years for his term. Finding THAT used on piece would be a real find!

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tedlawrence

30 Jun 2013
10:54:00pm

re: Plate Singles - More information please

Generally speaking, the older a stamp is, the greater a premium is added for PNS. On US Stamps ,I would add little value to PNS's ,on any stamp after 1930.Any pre 1900 PNS is saleable especially if it's mint.

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drmicro68

01 Jul 2013
11:58:48pm

re: Plate Singles - More information please

Ted - for me the fun of PNS's & PNC's is the hunt & the pleasure of finding one used on cover. I have an eclectic accumulation of commercial covers (hasn't made it into the organized collection status quite yet...) of PNC's. And they've almost all been mailed to me. For PNS's, on cover or off is OK. And saleable? I don't care--they're mine and I enjoy them.
Roger

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larsdog

APS #220693 ATA#57179
05 Jul 2013
07:43:03pm

re: Plate Singles - More information please

Ted,

I would disagree. Look at 2122 and 2122b. These can be difficult to tell apart without a reference collection, but plate number singles make them unambiguous. That "mini cert" attached to the stamp commands a slight premium.

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22 Sep 2016
10:12:20am

re: Plate Singles - More information please

At a good price, I just bought a C14 Zep with a large numbered tab on the right. I am very tempted to tear the thing off or fold it under because it would stick out of the box on my album page.

Not that I haven't done that before. I have a few interesting pairs that I mounted that way. But this is just a bare selvedge with a number.

Thoughts?

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amsd

Editor, Seal News; contributor, JuicyHeads
22 Sep 2016
10:41:46am

re: Plate Singles - More information please

don't do it, Joe

that makes it the sole one of its kind from that pane, so it represents 2% of the issue, making it far rarer.....

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michael78651

Moderator, MT Member
22 Sep 2016
08:43:48pm

re: Plate Singles - More information please

If you don't want the stamp with the plate number, sell it, and then use the proceeds to buy another without the plate number. You'll probably have enough money left over to buy more stamps. Depending on the stamp's condition, I would surmise that the plate number adds at least 50% to 100% to the value.

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DavidG

APS member since 2004
22 Sep 2016
09:34:32pm

re: Plate Singles - More information please

"David, one of my favorite marginal inscriptions is the not uncommon error on the Hubert Humphrey stamp that has the wrong years for his term. Finding THAT used on piece would be a real find!"



I have the stamp with the error marginal marking, used, in-period!

David
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larsdog

APS #220693 ATA#57179
22 Sep 2016
09:55:59pm

re: Plate Singles - More information please

"I have the stamp with the error marginal marking, used, in-period!"



Unless there was a large concerted effort to create postally used examples of that error, it seems that you have quite a rarity. Well done!

Lars

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