The New Zealand Teddy Error
In 1996, New Zealand Post produced a stamp issue in relation to Children's Health. The issue was supposed to be a standard surcharged issue, with a denomination of 40c and a surcharge of 5c.
The issue was focused on the safety of children, and the stamps, designed by Helen Casey, and printed by the Dutch security printer Enschede, shows a child in a child restraint, and a teddy bear accompanying it, wearing a seatbelt.
From the stamp it is clear that the child and the Teddy bear are sitting in the back seat, and are facing the driving direction. This is in violation of the laws of New Zealand, where children must be facing the opposite direction in a car, as a security measure.
This resulted in a last minute withdrawal of the original stamp, and the stamp was then redesigned, so the Teddy bear was no longer part of the stamp. All the copies of the original stamps were recalled by the New Zealand Post, and the error was not supposed to be publicized.
The stamp was also printed as self-adhesive coil stamps in New Zealand, and a small number of these stamps were distributed and sold over the counter in Rotorua and Auckland before it was recalled. It is believed that about 1000 of these incorrect stamps were sold.
The Health sheetlets were printed by the Dutch security printer Johan Enschede and they also had printed sheetlets with CAPEX overprint, which were meant for the CAPEX exhibition in Canada. It was believed that all the sheetlets with the erroneous stamps were destroyed after they arrived in New Zealand and both sheetlets were printed and issued without Teddy Bear on the stamps.
However, about one year later one set of these sheetlets, which contained the recalled stamps, showed up at an auction in Amsterdam. An investigation, on behalf of the NZ post, revealed that the Dutch security printer Enschede had unknowingly taken out a few copies of the original sheetlets, and included them in Christmas presents for the employees of the company.
It is not known how many of these sheetlets survived Christmas, but they surely became one of the rarest New Zealand philatelic items: the withdrawn self-adhesive stamp is valued now at about 1.600 Euro, the "non-issued" sheetlets however are valued at 12.000 Euro each in the latest Michel catalogue.
You can find the actual issued stamp in the Stampworld catalogue here. One of the top sellers on Stampworld is currently offering a set of these sheets, so If you are interested in owning one of these rarities, you are very welcome to contact us, and we will be happy to facilitate communication.