Question: I own 19 stamps purchased at Christmas, 1985, showing the Madonna and Child. They are errors, with each subject having 4 eyes, 2 mouths and 2 noses. Also, there is some change in colors. I am interested in selling some of them for $10,000 each, as I believe they will be valuable some day. Do you know of anyone who might be interested in purchasing these errors?--D.G.
Answer: Not at that price. It is always hard to disappoint someone when they think they have a major rarity, but the mis-registration of colors that you describe is unlisted in the Scott catalogues, which try to mention all known major printing errors of U.S. stamps.
One color entirely missing qualifies as a major error, but typically lists for about $1,000 per stamp. Your items are worth much less, maybe $10 per stamp if their appearance is striking. Show the stamps to a few dealers for a professional appraisal.
Q: Christmas is coming and I have to know what to give as a present to a stamp collector. Do you suggest stamps or collecting accessories?--R.N.
A: Collectors usually like to pick out their own stamps, but if the collector is young or a beginner, he or she will probably welcome a packet of U.S. or foreign stamps to be sorted through on a cold winter night. Such packets are for sale at most stamp shops for a few dollars and up.
Stamp hinges, glassine envelopes for duplicates, a magnifying glass and stamp tongs are basic tools that most collectors use. Many post offices yearly sell mint sets of all stamps issued in commemorative form that year. Or you can buy some sheets, blocks, or singles of stamps of your choice at the post office and wrap them as a present.
And don't forget books on philately. All stamp dealers and many general book stores have a few stamp books for sale.
Q: What is the value of a 10-cent U.S. special delivery stamp showing a helmet and olive branch, green color and the words "U.S. Postage, Special Delivery"?--F.P.
A: You just gave a good description of the 1908 U.S. special delivery stamp (Scott No. E7). Current catalogue value is $60 mint, $27.50 used.
Q: Because somebody once told me to save blocks of four with the plate corner number attached, I have been buying full sheets of stamps for years and have saved the corner plate number blocks. Is there a booklet to find out how much they are worth? How do I go about starting a collection? And is it worth it?--H.S.
A: Scott U.S. Specialized catalogue lists plate block prices, but these tend to be inflated, so use them as a rough guide to actual worth. Basically, U.S. plate blocks of the last 35 years are not worth much more than face value, except for certain issues. Is what worth it? If you collect for fun or knowledge, it is always worth it. If you plan to make big profits from collecting recent plate blocks, you'll be disappointed.
Q: I have two "last day of issue" covers, which I hope you can help me with. They have special commemorative postmarks indicating the end of railway postal service between New York and Washington. Both envelopes have a sketch of the event and a drawing of a train car, the Washington Monument and the Empire State Building. Do you know the current value of this item and how many were issued?--G.G.
A: Recent railway post office (RPO) covers have little demand from collectors. Current price might be $1 per cover. I have no statistics on the quantity canceled on June 30, 1977, the last day of this mail service.
Q: I inherited a nice collection of Brazil issues, neatly mounted with hinges in an album, mostly mint but with about 400 canceled. I want to learn more about Brazil's issues and maybe become a specialist in that field. My local dealer can't supply me with any stamps from Brazil that I don't already have. Can you help?--R.F.
A: The Brazil Philatelic Assn. publishes a quarterly journal called Bull's Eyes. The journal has a mail auction with stamps listed by Scott numbers and offers free trading and selling ads to members. Dues are $10 per year. For more information send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Phillip D. Pulsinelli, BPA, RD 3, Sunset Drive, Export, Pa. 15632.
Q: Enclosed is a photocopy of two Hong Kong issues, $2 and $5 denominations, with Queen Elizabeth's portrait. Can you tell me their values and date of printing?--S.L.C.
A: The $2 item lists for $8 mint, 50 cents canceled in American money. Your $5 stamp is priced $35 mint, 85 cents used. They were issued in 1954 to replace the old King George definitives from the 1930s and 1940s.