Many collectors of US stamps eventually come across an Error, Freak, or Oddity, commonly referred to as an EFO in the philatelic community. For example, the perforations cut through the stamp design, the colors are out of registration, and so forth.
Errors are listed in the Scott Catalog. Yes, some errors like #C3a command lots of money. But there are other errors that are much more affordable. Take Scott #1895d. This is the imperforate pair of the 20¢ Flag over Supreme Court coil stamp. The catalog value is $9. With a little hunting, you can probably find a pair for $5. How about Scott #2201b? This is the 22¢ Ameripex ‘86 booklet pane with black omitted. The catalog value is $40. A little more expensive than #1895d, but still within many stamp budgets. Yes, you can own true error stamps and not break the bank.
To me, freaks are not errors. But they are very drastic examples of something gone wrong during stamp production. For example, the perforations cut through the stamp design. The colors used to print a stamp are incorrectly registered giving the stamp a blurry appearance. There are many examples of freaks.
To me, oddities are more subtle. Things like plate varieties, printers waste, and design errors fall into this category. There are many other examples of oddities. To me, errors and freaks jump out at you and oddities are things you have to hunt for.
EFO collecting is very popular and there is a wide range of material to choose from. It’s a great way to expand you collection once you’ve filled the printed album pages and your stamp budget won’t allow you to go any higher.
But there is an added benefit to collecting and understanding EFO material. Studying EFOs often leads to understanding stamp production techniques and technologies. Why are those perforations off? How did that strange blob of green ink get on that stamp? Answering these questions usually involves understanding stamp printing processes. Think of it as “forensic philately” if you will. It’s a degree of detective work. In my experience, EFO collectors like their EFO stamps. But they like understanding how the EFO occurred even better.
Sometimes I get questions from customers who stumble upon an EFO. They send a copy of the EFO and the frequent question is, “What’s it worth?” I can help them. But customers can also help themselves.
I am a proud lifetime member of the EFO Collectors Cub (EFOCC).
There are many benefits of EFOCC membership. One of the major benefits is to participate in the club auction where members can buy and sell EFO material. You’ll be surprised how interesting some of this material is and how affordable it is!
I’m taking the liberty of including a brochure about the EFOCC in this mailing. I encourage you to check out the EFOCC. I think you’ll be pleased with the benefits that membership provides. More importantly, I think this will open up a new and fascinating world of philately to you.
Remember, knowledge is power. And to learn all about EFOs, the EFOCC is your best resource. I encourage you to join the EFOCC and find out what EFOs are all about. In my opinion, it’s one of the best decisions you can ever make.
One of these days, you’ll be able to say, “See this ink smear on this stamp? It was caused by a defect in the doctor blade!” If you don’t know what a doctor blade is and how it affects stamp production, check out the EFOCC and you’ll soon learn!
Many of you know me well enough to understand that if I didn’t firmly believe in the EFOCC, I wouldn’t be telling you about it. I invite you to check out the club. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.