Home History Commemorative Stamp errors – we are only human after all

Stamp errors – we are only human after all

Belgium Stamp with spelling error

Stamp goofsWherever people work, mistakes will be made. The business of postage stamp design is no exception. Many stamps have been issued with design flaws or flaws of a different nature. And these are of great interest to many collectors. Below we illustrate where some stamp designers have used what might be called ‘artistic licence’.

Typo in country name

In 1948 this Belgian stamp series was issued.  The subject was the Abbey of Chrèvremont. Unfortunately the designer of the stamps placed the diaeresis on the i instead of the e.

Belgium Stamp with spelling error

Belgium Stamp with spelling error in country name
Country name België with the diaeresis on the i

President with 6 fingers

In 1947 Monaco issued a stamp series to commemorate that year’s Centenary International Philatelic Exhibition (CIPEX), held in New York. Look closely at the 50c stamp in the set below and you will see that Franklin D. Roosevelt, then the United States President and a renowned collector of stamps, has no less than 6 fingers on his left hand.

Stamps Monaco with president with 6 fingers

Stamp Monaco with design error
The hand of President Roosevelt with one finger too many


This stamp series from the Netherlands (1974) has a tennis ball which is not in proportion to the size of the hand.


Hand with Tennisball
In reality: The size of a tennis ball in proportion to a hand.


Space journey – from outer space?

This is a Soviet Union stamp from 1965 featuring the Voskhod (“Sunrise”) spacecraft and the first person to make a spacewalk, the Russian cosmonaut Alexey Leonov. For more than one reason this stamp shows its designer had a vivid imagination, mainly because the door of the space capsule appears to be open.

Soviet Union Stamp with Spaceship

Fragment Soviet Union Stamp with open Spaceship
The pilot of the craft has apparently opened the door of the capsule to provide a better view of the  spacewalk.

Dangerous public transportation

The yellow bus on the German 15 pfennig stamp shows its doors on the left side. This would mean the passengers would have to exit the bus in the middle of the street, as in Germany they drive on the right-hand side of the road.

wdp0468-15ct-yellow bus with the door on the wrong side

Snow Crystal with one arm too little

In 1964 the Soviet Union issued a stamp series to celebrate the Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria. The snow crystal in the background on the stamps have 5 points. However, in reality snow crystals always have 6.

sqp2866b Stamps with icecristals with only 5 arms

Photos of actual snowflakes, all 6-pointed

Faulty globe

Austria issued this series of 3 stamps in 2012. On first inspection all seems well. But if you look more closely, you’ll see that the designer mistakenly forgot to place Antarctica on the stamp depicting the globe.

oop31228 Where's the Antarctic?

Globe without The Antarctic
The Lost Continent!

Apart from the fault on the globe, the designers made another mistake.  If you look well, you can see part of Slovakia’s borderline with Hungary is missing on the map.

oop31228a met gecorrigeerde grens Slowakije
The missing Slovakian borderline was adjusted in a re-issue of the stamps, the globe without the Antarctic Territory was not.

100 years too late

Macau issued a series of stamps in 1998 to commemorate the exploits of Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama. 500 years before, in 1498, da Gama led an expedition to India. On the stamp the wrong year has been printed – 1598 instead of 1498.

mcp0965 1498 not 1598

Vasco da Gama stamp with wrong year
The wrong year printed on the stamps

The error was noticed after issue and corrected on the stamps in a subsequent reissue of the series.

Vasco da Gama postztegel met gecorrigeerd jaar
Vasco de Gama stamp with corrected year

We could go on for hours, because there are many examples of these “fun” designer mistakes. Do you know of any? Please feel free to share them with us!


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