Errors in the ICAO collection


Stamp collecting is an age old hobby, and for good reason too: the smallest errors or misprints on a stamp can lead to major significance for a collection. In philately, errors, freaks, and oddities or EFO is a blanket term referring to all the kinds of things that can go wrong when producing postage stamps. It encompasses everything from major design errors to stamps that are just poorly printed, and includes both some of the most sought-after and expensive of all stamps, and others that attract the attention of only a few specialists.


Gabon – 01 December 1984

40th Anniversary of ICAO

The artist name is printed Herni instead of Erni.

The term error has two very specific meanings. The first refers to stamps or postal stationery that have one or more inadvertent, complete and consistent printing or production errors, i.e. omitted colors, perforations, tagging or any other completely missing step; inverts of color; improper color; double printings or perforations. The second definition of an error deals with stamp design; misspellings, typos or incorrect factual or design information on a stamp give such issues design error status.


A freak is differentiated from an error because it is a more random occurrence, may occur inconsistently on numerous stamps, envelopes or postal cards. Typical printing freaks include color shifts, over- or under-inking and smears, nearly missing colors or ink contamination. Typical production freaks include misperforated or miscut items.


Oddity is a catch-all term to describe those desirable or collectable items that don’t fit comfortably in the error or freak categories. Such items can include all types of plate varieties, odd or unusual cancels, etc.


It is interesting to note that the ICAO postal collection shows 17 percent of errors just in the stamps, in spite of any other collecting item, i.e. covers. Therefore, a complete section is developed to elaborate on those errors, as well as on freaks and oddities. EFOs (called “Errors” hereafter) were classified into six categories, with a sample for each of those categories given herewith:

  1. Errors in the name of the Organization;
  2. Errors in the acronym of the Organization
  3. Errors in the emblem;
  4. Errors in the texts;
  5. Errors in the philatelic notices;
  6. Errors in the manufacturing process;
  7. Errors in the dates.


Turks and Caicos Islands - 21 February 1985

40th Anniversary of ICAO

The word Organization should be printed with s instead of z.


Cameroon - 15 March 1967

20th Anniversary of ICAO

The designs of the emblem shows only three concentric circles, when four are required.


Swaziland - 30 November 1994

50th Anniversary of ICAO

The philatelic notice shows that the Organization was formerly established on December 7, 1994. The Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation was signed on 7 December 1944, and not in 1994.



Comoros - 22 November 1977

First Paris‑New York commercial flight of Concorde

Double overprint, gold with red inverted


United Nations - 20th Anniversary of ICAO

First Day Cover

The United Nations postmark was dated 8 December 1964, instead of 7 December 1964.