AN avid stamp collector spent €3,000 on a sheet of stamps worth just €9 after An Post’s error last week.
Padraig O’Shea, who runs a collectors shop in Cork City, was approached with an offer to buy a sheet of the withdrawn 60c stamps which were purchased at face value six days earlier.
‘‘It’s the first time stamps have been issued and withdrawn, this has never happened before.
‘‘Collectors always want stamps with some kind of fault because it is worth more than a perfect stamp,’’he told independent.ie.
The special edition stamps were withdrawn almost immediately after they were released when historians questioned the image that was chosen.
An Post believed the picture on the commemorative issue was of Captain Jack White, a former British army officer who volunteered for the Irish Citizen’s Army in 1913.
When the image was circulated on January 22, historians insisted that the man in the picture was not Captain White.
The stamp devotee said he understood that the erroneous stamps were on sale for less than ten minutes before they were pulled.
‘‘I’ve no way of knowing what they could be worth because it’s dependent on how many more could appear.
‘‘When you buy the risk is that more will appear but the reward could be that they don’t and then the price will rise,’’ he said.
He knows of one sheet and six single other erroneous stamps that were sold and could reach collectors’ value.
‘‘That’s not a lot when you think of the world market,’’ he insisted.
One member of the public who purchased a sheet of 15 stamps approached Mr O’Shea at his shop with the hope of selling the unusable stamps.
He jumped at the chance to buy them in the hope that it had collectors’ value as many Irish stamps with faults could reach a value of between €1,000 and €3,000.
The stamp lover recalled a similar incident in Germany where a very small number of stamps were circulated and pulled, and later went on to sell for up to €20,000.
An Post is unaware of how many of the withdrawn stamps were sold.
Mr O’Shea owns a shop called Raven Stamps in Cork City which he started in 1981 during a crippling economy.
‘‘I couldn’t have picked a worse time to start a business but if you can survive in very bad times, you will do well in good times,’’ he said.
Dealing with stamp collectors from around the world, he has been involved in the business for over twenty five years, specialising in Irish stamps.
Mr O’Shea regularly attends stamp shows throughout the country, especially STAMPA in Dublin, the annual national stamp exhibition.
His interest in Irish stamps began in the mid-1970s when he inherited his late sister’s Irish stamp collection.