10 March 2011

Capablanca Off-Center

The most recent post in the series on Top eBay Chess Items by Price, titled Gold for Fischer - Spassky, featured a coin, so it's fitting that the next post features a stamp. The title of the item pictured below was 'CUBA 1951 CAPABLANCA CHESS VERY RARE ERROR'. The stamp on the left has the error, while the stamp on the right is normal.

I was never very good at the kids' game where you have to spot all the differences between two drawings or two photos, and it took me a while to see the error. Once I spotted it, I wondered why I hadn't seen it immediately.

The description of the item was bilingual Spanish / English and was all about terms & conditions, saying nothing about the stamp itself. One potential buyer asked, 'Q: What catalog is registered this error?', and received the answer (I've tidied the spelling a little),

A: Hi, the error is one of the rarest and Cuban philatelic and rare errors of word chess thematic. A block of 4 is in the collection of Karpov world champions chess. Is known only from a leaf is shifted only in the 4 lines higher. The more up is the position of but moved this error. We can assure you 100% its total authenticity and rarity. Capablanca is the emission of one of the most studied in Cuba and that his error more important.'

Another person asked, 'Q: Do you have a certificate of authenticity for this item? Do you know how many copies exist with this error?', and got the same answer. One intrepid buyer finally bid and won the stamp, without competition, for US $599. How much did Karpov pay for his block of four?

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