Many collectors are familiar with stamps that are misperforated. These are considered freaks in the stamp world when the perforations don’t fall where they are supposed to be.

In most cases, the perforations cut through some part of the stamp design. Misperforated stamps sell for about $5-$20 for a single stamp. Very minor misperforations are towards the $5 range. Major shifts with dramatic appearances are in the $20 range. Blocks, position pieces (e.g. plate blocks) or full panes of stamps may sell for more. Misperforations on Express Mail, Priority Mail, and other high face value stamps also bring more.

There is a special kind of misperforation though call a “Change of Design”. For example, take Scott #1455, the Family Planning issue from 1972. Imagine that the horizontal perforations were shifted down a few millimeters so that they fall between the bottom of the wording, “Family Planning” and the tops of the heads of the figures. If you had a pane of such stamps and removed a stamp from that pane, the “people” would be at the top of the stamp and “Family Planning” would be at the bottom of the stamp. At first glance, this could be a perfectly valid layout for that stamp.

Change of Design stamps are very challenging. The perforations can’t fall just anywhere. They have to fall in just the right spot to give the misperforated stamp a “normal” appearance.

In my opinion, not all stamps are eligible for a Change of Design misperforation. For example, take Scott #1933, the Bobby Jones stamp from 1981. Yes, the horizontal perforations could drop down a bit and you would end up with “Bobby Jones” at the bottom of a stamp instead of the top. However, this stamp has a solid, rectangular background. On this misperforated stamp, there will be this large white bar running through the center of the stamp saying, “Look at me! This is where the perforations are supposed to be!” To me, this isn’t a Change of Design because it’s so obvious that this stamp is misperforated.

Stamps like Scott #1455 that make ample use of white space for the background and have elements of the design that are kind of segregated, those are the kinds of stamps that could be misperforated so that there is a Change of Design.

Change of Design stamps are scarce, but not rare. Obviously they happen a lot less often than just the random misperforation. Prices start at about $20 where there are many copies known and could range up to $100 or more for some stamps. They are challenging to find because there aren’t a lot of them and you do have to look closely to spot them.

If you hear this term in philatelic circles, now you know what it means. And if you’re looking for a challenging area to collect that isn’t going to require a second mortgage on your home, consider a collection of Change of Design stamps. I think you’ll find them very interesting. Many collectors who collect these issues often display them next to a normal stamp for comparison.