Is there any way to distinguish the Bill Pickett error sheets (#2870) that were sold before the error was discovered from those that were issued afterward (and sold by lottery)?
I ask because I purchased the corrected sheet (#2869) from a vendor on HipStamp but received the "recalled" sheet apparently by accident. Before I return it to the seller, I'm wondering if the originally sold error sheets have any distinguishing marks. The sheet I received was not in the blue envelope that enclosed the "recalled" sheets sent to the lottery winners.
I think a very few sold by accident before and I think the only way to tell they were before is if they were cancelled before the others were released. Not being in the blue folder is meaningless as they can simply be removed.
The error was known just before release, and all were pulled before the first issue day, so none were accidentally sold. The error sheets sold by lottery were the ones pulled before the first day of issue. A dealer who was also a USPS distributor had pre-distributed it to other dealers as normal. He called them all to advise them of the recall several days before the release day and all the originals had to be returned to USPS (or else). I know this because I was working in a stamp shop at the time and was the one who took the call.
The first ones won in the lottery had no identifying anything. This might explain the one you got. After awhile, the blue envelopes were used for the panes. You could obtain one if you didn't get one originally. There were also (at least) white envelopes also reported.
I wondered if perhaps plate numbers might distinguish the original error panes, but I suppose if the USPS deliberately produced more, they'd use the same plates and plate numbers (particularly to make the accidentally sold panes less valuable).
I don't believe the USPS produced more of the original error. They did take about 115,000 of the returned panes and sent them to the lottery winners. They also produced a normal run of corrected panes.