Frequently you will find various stamps from St. Vincent (as well as the "Grenadines of St. Vincent", "Bequia" and "Union Island") that are advertised as "ERRORS", especially "Imperforate" or "Inverted Overprint", "Missing Colors", "Double Overprints", "Inverted Centers" and other "varieties" of stamps issued in the mid and late 1980's.
This includes stamp issues showing "Elvis Presley", "Michael Jackson", "Queen Elizabeth", various autombiles & trains and a host of other subjects. Many of these issues are also inscribed "Leaders of the World".
The printer of all of these stamps (and souvenir sheets) was "Format International Security Printers, Ltd.". When Format International Security went bankrupt, some of their assets, including unfinished stamp stocks, were sold off. Thus, the market was flooded with "imperforate", "inverted" errors, "color proofs" and other varieties. None of these errors & varieties were officially issued by or made available to the St. Vincent postal services, nor were the errors discovered by being purchased from the St. Vincent postal services; thus the items are generally classified as "printers waste".
It has also recently come to my attention that many of these errors were produced deliberately (and were to be sold to collectors as "rare examples") were produced as errors on purpose. You can read the story about the whole scandal and some of the legal proceedings at this web page: http://www.tuvaluislands.com/stamps/LOW_story.htm [note: this link was not functioning for several years, but appears to be available again; I did capture this particular webpage in 2003 to an Adobe PDF file, so in the interest of educating any interested parties, here it is: Tuvalu Islands LOW Story - you will need to have a copy of the Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader installed to view this].
In my book, a true "error" is a stamp of less than perfect quality that has managed to escape regular quality control procedures and iis found & purchased through regular channels, such as from the Post Office or an authorized sales agent (but not from the Printer!). Error items that come directly from the Printer are not "true" errors, they are simply printers' waste that should have been destroyed in the printing facility. A case in point is the recent USA "Nixon" stamp that was found with various errors; as it turned out, an employee of the printer took misprinted stamps (ie: the printing waste) from the printing plant and then tried to sell them; this was in turn declared illegal, the stamps were confiscated and the employee charged with a federal crime.
Now, the Government of St. Vincent probably does not care too much about these items (I have written the postmaster general in St. Vincent several times in the past, as well as the manager of the St. Vincent Postal Corporation - the successor to the origina St. Vincent Post Office, but have never gotten a response regarding this problem), since the chances of these stamps ever being used for actual postage in St. Vincent are fairly slim and that they are thus not defrauding the St. Vincent Postal Services.
What is the value of these items? Probably whatever the market will bear... (I have generally paid not much more than two or three times the catalog value of the regular stamps, and in some cases much less). Yes, they may be somewhat "rare" (compared to the regular stamp issues), they're "collectible", but that does not necessarily make them extremely valuable! If someone offers you these as an "investment", run, don't walk, away! Ask the seller of these items, if they're such a good investment, how much would they be willing to pay to purchase some right now?!
Recently I was told that a certain company out of Nevada is selling some of the invert errors (particularly the "40th Wedding Anniversary of Queen Elizabeth" set from 1987 as an "investment" for around $ 1,000 to $ 1,200 ! I have purchased the same stamps for only £ 7.50 (about $ 15.00) from a seller in England who told he can sell me more at that price! Another company out of North Hollywood is (was?) also selling these errors and was actually hiring sales people to sell these error stamps to so-called "qualified investors" (meaning probably anyone gullible enough to believe them and hand over their money or credit card number based on a high-pressure sales pitch!). Yet another company was selling these from Florida. The November 15, 2004 issue (pages 18 & 20) of "Barron's" discussed telemarketers which are selling various error stamps (and other) "investment" items.
Please read the information (about 7 pages) at this link: http://www.tuvaluislands.com/stamps/LOW_story.htm and then make up your own mind.
As they say: Caveat emptor - "let the buyer beware". And to illustrate that point, I created a 16-page exhibit, a copy of which I have contributed to EXPONET, an international on-line stamp exhibit website; you can see the entire exhibit here: http://www.japhila.cz/hof/0267/index0267a.htm (click on individual pages to see them full screen).
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