(Wiesbaden) Due to a two spelling mistakes, the original German "Christmas Tree Balls" stamp was withdrawn by the German post in November 2016; at that moment it seemed that no copies of the faulty stamp had been for sale. A corrected version of the stamp was issued, but then some of the stamps with the spelling errors surfaced: among others a complete mint never hinged sheet containing ten stamps, a pair of the stamp and a sheet containing nine Christmas trees. The stamps were produced on foils that were printed at the backside. So why is the stamp that will be auctioned by Heinrich Köhler in Wiesbaden (Germany) during the 366th Köhler auction on 23 March 2018 (lot no. 2478) so special or even unique? The answer is: because this stamp was produced as one of the very few on plain white carrier film. This type of production is normally reserved for individual (‘loose’) self-adhesive stamps. Or - as in this case - as a sample for a very small number of preferred recipients. Due to the fact that the mistakes in the stamp design were also present on the distributed sample stamps (‘Muster’), all these stamps were recalled too. All sample stamps were returned – apparently with the exception of one – to the German Post.
According to the certificate of the renowned German stamp expert Hans-Dieter Schlegel, it concerns the only known misprint of the ‘Christmas Tree Balls’-stamp that shows a backing foil that has been left completely blank, i.e. without any printed text or illustration on it. On the front of the stamp the vague remnants of the word ‘MUSTER’ are visible.
Many philatelists and stamp collectors will be curious what will happen on 23 March, when this unique stamp will be auctioned. Will it surpass the record price that the famous ‘Audrey Hepburn’ stamp yielded a few years ago? Then, the hammer fell at 150.000 euros.