A New Type of EFO

by Jerome V. V. Kasper & Cemil Betanov

Published in The EFO Collector, October-December 2004.

Thanks to The EFO Collector's Club for permission to place on this website!

EFOCC member and exhibitor Jerry Kasper hit the EFO jackpot by discovering not only a new EFO, but a new type of error never seen before. What is special about the error is that it contains a mix of colors from two different, related aerogrammes (Figure 1). Several EFO experts who were shown this error could not recall ever having seen such an error combination in any multicolor stamp. The aerogrammes were part of a three-aerogramme set promoting Western Samoa issued on April 11, 1979. The stamps show Cowry shells (copied from the Samoa Cowry Shell set of 1978). The left and middle images in Figure 1 are cut-outs from the normal 6-Sene Honey Cowry and 7-Sene Banded Cowry aerogrammes. The right image has the same denomination and text as the 6s but appears to have some traces of the bands from the 7s. In this article, we will refer to this oddball aerogramme as the "6X." Figure 2 shows the complete aerogrammes.

Stamps of Normal and Error

Normal 6s Aerogramme Normal 7s Aerogramme Mixed 6s Aerogramme
Figure 1: Left and middle are the stamps for the normal aerogrammes.
The one on the right, even though labelled "6s", has faint stripes from the "7s."
For higher resolution scans, click on an image.

How did Jerry encounter this EFO? About three years ago, he purchased a large collection of aerogrammes from an estate. The original owner had marked the oddball aerogramme as "with green smear." About six months ago, he started to look at the collection more carefully, to see what material he could use in his Aerogramme EFO exhibit. When he studied the oddball aerogramme, he realized that the faint bands were not a simple color smear. Rather, part of the design of the 7s aerogramme, the colored bands, seemed to be also on the oddball 6X aerogramme, making this a mixed-design printing.

How to determine more precisely whether this theory was correct? Jerry, who has programmed computers for many years, used a computer program to perform a color separation on the images. The images were split into the individual yellow, magenta and cyan colors used to print the issue. The results were dramatically clear! The magenta and yellow images of the 6X exactly matched those of the 6s. However, the cyan image of the 6X matched precisely the 7s cyan image. This clearly confirms that the 6X was produced by using plates (or parts thereof) from both the 6s and 7s issues. Unfortunately, it is not easy to reproduce the color separation results in the EFO Collector, since we are restricted to black and white and halftones thereof. But if you are interested in seeing the color results, please send to the Editor a self-addressed, stamped #10 envelope, and he will send you a color printout. You can also go to Jerry's website, www.aerogramme.com, which displays a copy (and is an excellent aerogramme reference on its own).

Complete Aerogrammes

Complete Aerogrammes
Figure 2: Complete picture of the aerogrammes in question.

How common is this error? When he encountered this, Jerry contacted several aerogramme dealers and asked them to go through their inventories to see whether they could find other specimens with the error. They could not find any. He also went through several stocks he encountered and found none. While this is not a rigorous methodology, it appears at this point that this is not a common error. Time will show if any more will be found.

How did this error occur? This is a more difficult question, and it might not be possible to provide a definitive answer. Nevertheless, we can try.

Plate Proof of 6s & 7s

Figure 3: Proof of the 6s and 7s aerogrammes

Figure 3 depicts part of a proof sheet of these two aerogrammes, likely a quarter of the plate as aerogrammes of this format were printed in sheets of 4 wide by 2 high. It is important that both the 6s and 7s aerogrammes were printed from the same plate. It is not uncommon for smaller print runs to print two designs using the same colors from a single plate. This is more common for smaller countries, such as Samoa or Kuwait. This gives us our first possible explanation.

The first possibility is that the aerogrammes were arranged on the plate in the following manner (A is the 6s and B is the 7s):

Possible Plate Arrangement

Proof sheets for other aerogrammes printed by McCorquodales show that the upper row is generally inverted relative to the bottom row. These aerogrammes were printed from five plates: white, yellow, magenta, cyan and black with the latter used for denomination and text. For this arrangement, if the cyan plate were somehow inverted (placed upside down), then all 8 aerogrammes would have received the cyan impression of the other stamp. There is one more observation that may make this possibility more likely. A closer examination of the 6X aerogramme (Figure 4) shows that the other areas of the aerogramme (like the lady and clock at the left of each aerogramme in Figure 2) have a slight color misregistration or shift. This could have been caused by a slight misalignment of the inverted plate. Remember, only the stamp design is different. All other printing is identical for all three issues.

One problem with this theory is that, if true, there should be many more instances of these similar errors, including the 7s with a cyan from the 6s, and the error should have been discovered before 25 years had passed! Perhaps the problem was recognized and corrected after only a few impressions, and the aerogrammes identified as errors destroyed allowing only a few to slip through.

Printing Misregistration

Printing Misregistration
Figure 4: Detail showing misregistration.
In the middle is the 6X, on the left the 6s and on the right the 7s.

Another possibility is that during preparation of the plate, a single cyan cliche‚ for the 7s was placed where a 6s cliche‚ belonged. This would then result in only the 6X error aerogramme being produced. Again, the error must have been discovered and corrected after only a few impressions or 1/4 of the 6s aerogrammes would have this error. Since this is a subtle error, it seems like it would have been harder to identify an incorrect cliche‚ than an inverted plate.

If you find any of these aerogrammes, take a close look and please report any further discoveries to one of the authors.

Books and Articles Related to Aerogrammes

Back to the The Aerogramme Home Page