The Variety Hunter: Case #529a and #530a

by Scott Martz

In previous columns I have focused on plate varieties, but today let us look at a printing variety.  The pictured stamps are: #529a— three cent purple, type III, offset printing, double impression; and #530a—three cent purple, type IV, offset printing, double impression.

Scott #529a
Type III offset printing

Scott #530a
Type IV offset printing

These are spectacular double impressions, showing great distance between impressions. They almost make you think your eyes are out of focus.  It is interesting with offset printed stamps the paper is not actually printed twice. The plate puts ink on the transfer roll twice. If the transfers are slightly apart then when the paper does go over the transfer roll, both ink impressions are transferred to the paper at the same time, showing the double image. This also explains why 1 image is slightly blurry, and less distinct. The ink was disturbed from the first transfer by the second, so the second transfer is bolder and clearer.

These are not rare varieties for the offset series, and can usually be found at a large stamp bourse. These three cent denominations can be had for only $20 to $30 dollars.

Happy Hunting! Scott

The Variety Hunter: Case #599a

by Scott Martz

The 599A type II coil stamp is not an uncommon variety. It is highly publicized and illustrated in most catalogs, and with patience most people will find one with some patience and persistence. After seeing a few with your own eyes you will know exactly what to look for.

I have a great story to tell of when I really truly learned to hunt for these. A dealer friend in NY, John Kellas III, gave me an opportunity to search a box of these about 10 years ago. But, this was no ordinary box, it was HUGE. The box was the size of 3 large pillows piled on top of each other. Mostly off paper! We figured over 200,000 stamps. I spent 2 months searching it, and I actually found over 250 of the 599A and 634A Type II stamps in that box. I became very good at finding them at a glance. I was able to keep 20 of those stamps after searching it for John. The 599A and 634A are scarce as that box was 100% unsearched and only about 1 in a 1000 stamps were Type II. The pair of stamps below was not found in this box, but in a collection many years later. I have the many hours of hunting this box, to credit helping me find this in a collection at a Florida show.

But let us discuss what the 599A (and 634A) Type II is. In the photo above the type 1 #599 is on the left, and the 599A is on the right. The 599A has three very bold hairlines. They have significant width to those three hairlines. Many people will mistake a heavily struck or over inked stamp as the actual variety. The trick is to look for true width in those hairlines. Also a line in the right scrolling is bold, as it has distinct width, as compared to the normal, it is a secondary marker to confirm the variety. See illustrations, and compare to the photo of the pair of stamps pictured.

Scott #599 Type I
Normal width hairlines

Because this is a plate variety, all stamps on the same plate do have the variety, why is the stamps picture a pair with one stamp showing the variety and one without? The answer is, that this stamp was printed by the rotary press method, and more than one plate is placed on the drum that does the printing. Where the plates come together, that forms the line that you see. So when 2 different type plates were put on the rotary drum, this very rare variety was born. So this is a variety of a variety. Kind of corny I know, but what can I say, that is who I am.



Scott #599A Type II Strengthened hairlines

In terms of value, this is fun as prices multiply quickly from the plain #599 price. #599 used is a 5 cent stamp, the 599A used is $17. A nice premium for sure, but if you can find a line pair with one #599 and #599A the price jumps to $1000 for a used pair. If these were in MH condition, the #599 is 35 cents, the 599A is $100, and the line pair with one 599 and one 599A is $650. Never hinged jumps to $1250. But this is an excellent example of the normal mint stamp being worth less than the same stamp in used condition. My example has a few short perforations on one stamp, which hurts the value quite a bit, but it is still an extremely difficult piece to find.

Happy Hunting! Scott

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