Arago: Exhibits

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5-Cent Stamps in 2-Cent Panes

At first glance, it may be hard to spot the error in these pieces. But it’s a big one. In each case, there is at least one 5¢ stamp instead of a 2¢ stamp.

All three were cut from larger sheets of 400 stamps. When a Bureau employee touched up the 400-stamp printing plate, he should have used a 2¢ transfer roll (a device used to transfer stamp images to the plate). Instead, the employee used a 5¢ transfer roll in three places.

One possible reason for this mistake is that a transfer roll carries a mirror image of a stamp design. A backwards 5 looks a lot like a numeral 2.

5c carmine Washington error single in full sheet

Look for the 5¢ error hidden in this pane of 2¢ 1916-1917 stamps. You’ll find it in the second row from the top, three stamps from the right edge.

5c carmine Washington single

This imperforate block of 2¢ 1916 stamps has a 5¢ value right in the middle of the top row.