Dinosaur Series 5 card - Backside view

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Printer Errors


What's a Printer Error?

Red Rose used Walker Press to print millions of cards for their boxes of tea. Somewhere along the way, the printer made a few goofs. It's just human nature. Sometimes the goof is big (affecting thousands of sets of cards) and sometimes it only affects a few. Usually the goof gets caught at the printers and gets destroyed, end of story. Sometimes the goof does not get caught and winds up in the boxes and into the hands of tea drinkers and finally, into the hands of collectors like us.

Is a Printer Error collectable?

An error by the printer can be large (like the Rolland-Roland error in series 2), smaller, or can only affect a very few cards. If the error is large enough, then more than one or two people can collect it and it has value to the collecting community. If only a few are affected then typically it is not considered collectable because there aren't enough examples to spark interest and raise value.

What Does a Small Goof Look Like?

Thanks to Don Scanlan again. He gives us a glimpse at a mistake done at the printers where the card number appears to have been omitted.  Compare the two Canadian Animals of North America card number 17s. Look where the No. 17 is supposed to be on the lower card. You can make out what appear to be three dots (one over the A and two over the N in ANIMALS). Another website points out that one could transpose the No. 17 over the dots. Could it be that the stamp with the number got dislodged for a few sheets? Possibly. Maybe the stamp was dirty and not transferring the ink well.

Don has this card, someone else in Canada also has one. That card has the #17 penned on it. Since I have published this page, I have seen one eBay auction and have heard from at least three people that they have this unusual variation as well.

Since this error is quite noticeable and about six have ever been spotted (all being #17), all with the same characteristic three dots, it seems likely that the error was caught and corrected fairly quickly and it seems unlikely more than thirty or forty exist like this.  I am hedging my previous bet of only a few since we have seen six to date. I still feel strongly this was caught quickly and although there are a few out there, I bet they do not even represent one tenth of one percent of a single run.

Thanks to the collection of Mrs. R. B. Ramsey for the image on the right.

Previously I said that collectors were not scurrying to their cards to look for similar ones but it does now seem like it might be worth the trip. They will still be difficult to collect as the numbers are so low. I guess that just gives us a good challenge, eh?

It is an interesting footnote in the process of printing up tea cards at Walker Press.

Wouldn't you like to have strolled through the printer's every time they were ready to print off a new set of cards? 

How about calculating how many cards got printed by Walker? Do you think it is more than 100,000? How about 500,000? Over a million? Hmmm, which guess is closer?

Thanks again to Don. Keep 'em coming.

What About A Mis-Strike? 

When Walker Press prints these cards, they use a process to color print. The most common method of color printing is referred to as CMYK. It's a four color process. To reproduce a color image, an image is separated into four different colors: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. Typically the black is set down as the first color. Alignment points are placed along the edges of the image (48 images in this case) in black. Then the other three colors are supposed to aline with the first marks and make an integrated mark. That would be similar to the alignment mark shown here. Done correctly, the resulting picture can look awesome and flawless.

Sometimes, the printer screws up and the marks are not aligned. This leaves the image looking multi struck. The effect is a blurry and misaligned image. Thanks to Jeanette Ens for showing us her Bald Eagle with a clear mis-strike. Her special card is to the right of a normally printed card. If the printer was on his toes, the card, along with the rest of the sheet would have would up in the trash. Now Jeanette has a cool collectable.

Are these cards collectable? I have run accross several over the years but it is a small amount. Normally the printer does a great job and if there are mistakes, they get rid of them, most of the time. Again, the numbers are low but the value is as well. It's fun to have one in your collection but you will never collect a set mis-strikes. Or could you?

Remember, keep your eyes peeled, even on the common cards. You never know what rare find may be lurking around the corner... just waiting for you to discover it.

Last modified: October 30, 2020


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