Home My Stamp Reference Files Contact About Links Sitemap


The 1987 Saint Vincent Century of Motoring Stamps and What was Found in the Printers Archive

In 1987 the Format International Security Printers Ltd. were commissioned By the St. Vincent postal authorities to produce a set of stamps depicting four of the most famous automotive pioneers and the vehicles they designed. The theme being "Century of Motoring" commemorating the automobile centenary. Other countries have produced similar stamp issues in previous years. The stamps picture images of Carl Benz and the 1886 Velocipede, Enzo Ferrari and the 1966 Ferrari Dino 206SP, Sir Henry Royce and the 1907 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost, and Henry Ford and the Model T Ford. The set of stamps were produced for Saint Vincent only. Saint Vincent issued the stamps on December 4, 1987.
This page is for the 1987 Missing Gold Error stamps and other varieties.

1987 CENTURY OF MOTORING NORMAL ISSUE Scott #1044-51, SG #1085-8, MS1089

1987 Century of Motoring Stamps
1987 Century of Motoring $3.00 Souvenir Sheet
1987 Century of Motoring $5.00 Souvenir Sheet
1987 Century of Motoring $6.00 Souvenir Sheet
1987 Century of Motoring $8.00 Souvenir Sheet

Marquee for Golowe's Reference Site on the Format International Security Printers

According to prior written information and internet research the following findings will be presented and will stand until solid evidence is presented proving otherwise........


In my purchases of the Bileski Estate I found sets, panes and souvenir sheets and documentation of this issue. Many pieces I found were from the archival sheets. After learning about the errors and varieties and the history behind them I began buying up more of the archival pieces which were scattered around the world in my attempt to reunite them. The information follows but I must first present to you here now the one and only image of a rebuilt PRESS SHEET I was able to put together of the MISSING GOLD ERROR STAMPS. Never again will this happen as my intent is to sell the pieces in the future.


1987 Century of Motoring Missing Gold Error Rebuilt Press Sheet

The Missing Gold error is the only ERROR found for this issue. There is the Reversed Image of Henry Ford variety of which I have made a separate page for. It is an unissued VARIETY and cannot be considered an error. You can view the page here.


Let us begin the analysis of the missing gold errors with this write-up
by Mr. Kasimir Bileski.


When Robson Lowe was breaking up the Format Archives into selling lots it was easy enough to classify the unissued stamps and to put them together as one lot. This is the group that eventually I bought just about 100%. I too like stamps "that might have been".

He did find a few errors amongst these unissued and that was OK. They went with the same holding.

But he also came across errors that were of issued stamps. These were too few to worry about, some half dozen major errors, mostly of the type where a color was missing, likely the simplest and easiest type of error any printer has to face. Since there were so few he just threw them in with the unissued sheets.

There was this mishap with the Henry Ford car stamp; the design had to be reorganized. That made the unissued design a variety. It cannot be considered an error. However the archive had three uncut sheets of the issued stamps with four bona fide errors, not just one, where the final color did not appear thanks to two sheets going through the press at the same time, and since it happened on an uncut sheet with four values on same, why we have four errors!

So I'm the owner of four major errors of which only 75 each exist.

Let me tell you 10 years ago very few, including myself, worried about the possibilities of uncut sheets. A few gutter pairs were saved. I don't recall what happened to the center units. If still intact they might turn up. Likely my staff made two more gutter pairs out of the center unit. About half of the rest were frittered away in various deals and I'm holding now about 30 sets of big errors, which were they Canada or U.S. would be rated a minimum of $2,000.00 per stamp.

There are plenty of Canada and U.S. errors that exist in many more large quantities which now sell up to $10,000.00 each. Why, I had 105 of the Seaway Invert.

Well St. Vincent is not Canada or U.S. but still these are genuine errors, entirely legitimate. They are attractive topicals of world-wide interest; they do have economic possibilities.

Robson Lowe assured me that anything I got in my purchase of the unissued (and the few errors) I have such 100%. That may be true of the unissued and their errors, if any, but for the issued? After all Robson Lowe only handled the archives. He had nothing to do with the stamps that went out to the various countries that had ordered them for their postal needs. What is to prevent more errors turning up, the result of two issued sheets going through the press at the same time?

Well after all the years since issue no one has ever reported these four St. Vincent errors.

Kasimir Bileski

As we know now, Many missing gold "errors" were produced by the Format Printers. The possibility that two sheets were run through the press at the same time is slim to say the least. What IS interesting is that this error was never run off on a larger scale as in 1,000 to 3,000 sets which is the apparent standard on many issues. Could it be these were forgotten issues? A contractual agreement was made in 1987 in which part of the agreement was that Format would not reprint souvenir sheets featuring autos made for Saint Vincent. Perhaps the singles of this set were included thus the extreme rarity of the errors and varieties of this issue. The facts to the status of these will never be fully known but all evidence points to the rarity factors (give or take a few discrepancies in Mr. Bileski's write-ups) as being true. It has been 23 years since this set was issued and no large quantities of this error nor of any varieties of this issue have turned up on the market. Thus this error is placed in the EXTREME rarity class.

Another conflict exists with the statement that three sheets were found as another write-up conflicts as to what exists and evidence from my recovery efforts will show. Still, we must remember that Mr. Bileski was very old and....well, we all make mistakes.

The above write-up was made supposedly 10 years after the initial find of the error sheets. That would make it around 2003-4. I uncovered an original write-up closer to the time of discovery. It was written in 1994. Here it is:


One of the pleasant surprises is the enclosed four stamps. Over two years
ago, I had bought a special section of the Format Archives that have been
assembled by Robson Lowe, and sold to me by Christie's. Robson Lowe is a
Director of this great auction house, and is in charge of all philatelic
auctions they conduct all over the world.

Robson Lowe, who is the official liquidator of the Format
International, went through the Archives and put by a section which dealt
mostly with UNISSUED STAMPS.

This was the part of the Archives which I bought.

Had noticed the four unusual looking stamps, but was too busy to do anything
with them until August 10, 1994. Upon examining them my first reaction was
"what is this", "what are the values", "what is the name of the country"?
Another sheet in the folder solved that mystery so I looked up Scotts and
there were my stamps:

St. Vincent #1044-47

And the realization dawned upon me. Here were no unissued stamps. Here are
FOUR GRAND MAJOR ERRORS. One color was missing on all four. You see the
sheet printed had on it all four values. The missing gold color was used
to finish the stamps. It provided a gold border around the stamps, the name
of the country, and the value of the stamp all in one printing pass.

This final procedure must have been done on a flatbed press, picking up the
four color sheets (all printed at one time). The final print could create
errors by picking up two sheets at a time.

When inspected such were removed. Four sheets were put by for the Archives,
any other error sheets were destroyed.

Result is we now have 100 sets of a major error dealing with a most interesting
topic, and in a most unusual design. Only St. Vincent has these four designs, and
there is nothing else similar in the philatelic world.

1. Carl Benz and the Velcipide 1886.
2. Enzo Ferrari and his 1966 Ferrari Dino.
3. Charles Rolls and Henry Royce with the Rolls Royce "Silver Ghost".
4. Henry Ford and the 1908 Model T.

Robson Lowe put these four sheets in the parcel I bought. I suppose they can
be considered as unissued, unless, some singles got out to postal users. They
are genuine errors. Were there more such in the parcel? Just one group
dealing with the Audubon Nevis Birds! Not a bad record considering the billions
of stamps Format International printed for the Crown Agents who control
stamps issued for 60 or so members of the British Commonwealth.

As one can see there were four sheets. Still only 100 sets can exist but then one must deduct all the gutters, corners, center etc. from the mix thus you can see that the number of singles sets that exist are much lower. Let's see some images!

Value $300.00
1987 Century of Motoring Missing Gold Error Stamps

THE CROSS GUTTER CENTER BLOCK (probably unique in this form as per the write-up. One was sold on Ebay with singles attached.)
Value $2-3,000.00
1987 Century of Motoring Missing Gold Error Cross Gutter Center Block

THE TOP MARGIN GUTTER STRIP (probably unique as pairs attached. Two sets sold on Ebay with singles attached.)
Value $1,000.00
1987 Century of Motoring Missing Gold Error Top Margin Gutter Strip

THE BOTTOM MARGIN GUTTER STRIP (probably unique as pairs attached. Two sets sold on Ebay with singles attached.)
Value $1,000.00 1987 Century of Motoring Missing Gold Error Bottom Margin Gutter Strip

THE VERTICAL GUTTER BLOCK SET (3 sets can exist. One set HAS been broken and possibly the others may be broken also.)
Value $750.00 to $1,000.00
1987 Century of Motoring Missing Gold Error Vertical Gutter Block Set

THE VERTICAL GUTTER PAIR SET (6 sets can exist as one of the above was broken. I have 5 Fords and 2 Ferrari)
Value $500.00
1987 Century of Motoring Missing Gold Error Vertical Gutter Pair Set

THE SIDE MARGIN GUTTER PAIR SET (3 sets can exist. I have 2 sets and the gutter pairs from another set where the side selvage was torn off.)
The other set was sold on Ebay recently.
Value $750-1,000.00
1987 Century of Motoring Missing Gold Error Side Margin Gutter Pair Set

THE HORIZONTAL GUTTER PAIR SET (10 to 17 sets can exist. I have 8 Fords and 7 Ferrari)
Value $500.00
1987 Century of Motoring Missing Gold Error Horizontal Gutter Pair Set

THE CORNER SET (4 sets can exist. I have 1 set with pairs and one set with blocks of four. One other set is known.)
Value $1,000.00 for the pair set and $1,500.00 for block sets.
1987 Century of Motoring Missing Gold Error Corner Set

The horizontal gutter pairs I have show that at least one side margin gutter set was broken and at least two cross gutter center blocks had the two gutter pairs on the left and right sides removed. It is possible the other cross gutter center blocks still exist as the color guide and logo are not on any of my horizontal gutters nor have shown up on the market.

OK let us estimate how many singles sets can exist.
First we deduct the Horizontal gutter sets including cross gutters and side gutters. Total being 20 sets deducted from the 100 sets leaving 80 sets.
Now deduct the corner sets. Total being 12 sets at least deducted from 80 set leaving 68 sets.
Now deduct vertical gutter sets. Total being 12 sets deducted from 68 sets leaving 56 sets.
Finally deduct top and bottom margin sets. Total possibly being 6 sets deducted from 56 sets leaving 50 sets! Of those sets...how many are still intact?!?
So you see that the singles sets are a bit rarer than most people realize. Kasimir Bileski originally priced the set at $300.00 and it is definitely a fair price for them. Of course then all other pricing for the gutters etc. fall into perspective. And that pretty much sums up the missing gold errors.


In a plastic bag inside a large padded envelope recovered from the police evidence stock was a stack of souvenir sheet pairs. mixed in between we found these! 1987 Century of Motoring Souvenir Sheet Pair (Mercedes Benz and Rolls Royce) with Missing Gold Error

1987 Century of Motoring Souvenir Sheet Pair (Ferrari and Ford) with Missing Gold Error

I found 60 of the Benz/Royce combo's and 85 of the Ferrari/Ford combo's. Based on the low number of sheets saved in the archive we theorize only 100 of each of these souvenir sheet pairs were saved. The whereabouts of the others is unknown but due to the rough handling of the confiscated materials we theorize that they were probably destroyed.
Basing valuation on the same principles used by Mr. Bileski for the single stamp set we set the value of both pairs as a set at $300.00.
And that pretty much sums up the missing gold errors.


Based on market scanning and analysis it is fairly safe to say there are very few. With progressive sets existing though they are out there.
Standard practices of the printer were to produce 5,000 sets with 3,000 more with the progressives.

Pricing generally would be $5-7.00 a set but with the low availability on the market one can expect to pay higher for these.


1987 Century of Motoring Color Proof Presentation Folders
1987 Century of Motoring Progressive Color Proof Presentation Folders

1987 Century of Motoring Color Proof Sets
1987 Century of Motoring Progressive Color Proof Sets

Examples I found were for sale on presentation cards which are also in presentation folders and are being offered at around $75.00 each. Many more have become available with the sale of the Saint Vincent side of the police evidence stock.
Also found are the sets by themselves. This shows that most are probably retained. 3,000 sets were printed.
No souvenir sheets in progressive color proofs found but they have been described as existing in the final sale of the archive.

Pricing should run at $20-25.00 for each presentation folder (velvet covered) since they are restricted to 250.
Pricing for a full set of any one individual value as progressives should run at $5-10.00 a set.


1987 Century of Motoring SPECIMEN Overprinted Stamps

Standard printing practices were to produce 2,000 sets perforated and 1,000 sets imperforate. No imperforate varieties seen.

Pricing should run $5-7.00 a set of these.


1987 Century of Motoring Vertical Gutter Pairs Perforated Proofs
1987 Century of Motoring Single Souvenir Sheet Perforated Proofs
1987 Century of Motoring Souvenir Sheet Perforated Un-numbered Proof Pairs

1987 Century of Motoring Souvenir Sheet Perforated Numbered Proof Pair

Judging from what is available it appears that the gutters and cross gutters from uncut press sheets have a modest rarity factor. Vertical gutters are being offered at around $25.00 a set thus the probability of 10-25 uncut press sheets were saved.
The souvenir sheet perforated proofs seem to also have a rarity factor. Large margined singles are being offered at around $125.00 whereas pairs are being offered at around $25-30.00 each. We found only 22 of each of the machine cut souvenir sheet pairs with the missing gold errors and reversed image varieties. The pairs have been on the market and are at present time. We theorize that as with the reversed image Henry Ford pairs that 300 were saved.
The number that still exists is unknown but based on these quantities we should value a set at around $50.00.
The numbered pair is an oddity I found in the Bileski holding. Possibly from a unique sheet?
More research is needed on these.

This ends our analysis of the Saint Vincent 1987 Century of Motoring stamp errors and varieties.
If and as more evidence is found this page will be updated accordingly.

References taken from:
Stanley Gibbons Windward Islands and Barbados
Scott Catalog
Inventory list for the Format Archive by Robson Lowe
The Bileski Documentation
Online internet research
My personal recovery of the material


All Content Copyright © 2011 Golowe's Collector Stamps, All Rights Reserved
Return to last page viewedClick here to return to last page viewed

Return to Format International Security Printers Reference Homepage Here.

Collector stamps are fun!

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional

Valid CSS!

UPDATED LAST ON: 16-Apr-2020 04:24 PM