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12 Things Made Collectible Thanks to Spelling Errors 

The Daily Mail
The Daily Mail

The Vatican recently issued a commemorative medal in honor of Pope Francis, but had to recall the 6000 that had already been minted after it was discovered that the word “Jesus” was misspelled as “Lesus." While the mistake was embarrassing for the Vatican, it was thrilling for collectors. A spelling error like that is rare indeed, and the few medals that were sold before the rest were pulled are sure to command a hefty price. When it comes to collectibles of any kind, spelling errors always add interest and value. Here are 12 other spelling mistakes that collectors know to look for.

1. The “Spoot” Error

Photo courtesy of Collector's Weekly

During the Civil War people began hoarding coins for the metal they contained. In response to a need for small currency, private mints started issuing their own coins, which circulated in the East and Midwest. Many were specific to certain merchants or stores and some were stamped with patriotic slogans. One of the patriotic coins read “if anyone attempts to tear it down, shoot him on the spot,” the instructions sent by General Dix at the outbreak of war to officials in New Orleans regarding what they should do if anyone tried “to haul down the American flag.” Some of these coins were struck with “spoot” rather than “spot.” Now Civil War token collectors know them as “spoot tokens.”

2. The “Kentuckey” Spoon

Photo courtesy of CoinWorld

The 50 State Quarters program gave people a new reason to start a coin collection as they sought to get the quarters from all the states. There were other non-currency collectibles issued as part of the program, including spoons for each of the state designs. They aren’t particularly valuable now, selling for between $1 and $20 on ebay. The Kentucky spoon, however, can get $100 to $200 due to the way the state is spelled on the handle of the spoon: “Kentuckey.”

3. The “Lennon-McArtney” Record

Photo courtesy of Beatle.net

“Love Me Do” was the first Beatles single released by a record company. Before it went on sale, about 250 promotional copies were sent to radio stations and reviewers. Those copies listed the artists as “Lennon-McArtney.” The “McArtney” was replaced with the correct “McCartney” by the time it was released. A copy of the misspelled version sold for over $19,000 last year.

4. The Isle of “White”

Photo courtesy of Norvic-Philatelics

In 2007 the British Royal Mail issued a set of “Glorious England” stamps with images of iconic English scenes—a row of taxis, Stonehenge, the London Eye. One picture was of “The Needles,” a chalk formation off the Isle of Wight. The engravers must have been distracted by the lovely white chalk rocks when they set the stamp with “white” instead of “wight,” a completely different word which meant “living being” when the isle got its name.

5. The “Philadelpia” Cover

Photo courtesy of Mystic Stamp

While spelling errors on stamps make for good collectibles, the stamp itself is not the only place where postage can go wrong. Philatelists are also interested in covers, the special posted envelopes issued by the postal service to commemorate a stamp’s debut. In 1957, a stamp honoring the teachers of America was issued for the 100th anniversary of the National Education Association. No doubt the teachers would not have approved of the ones where the cancellation stamp read “Philadelpia.”

6. The “Squar” Egg Skillet

Photo courtesy of Etsy

There’s nothing like a quality, well-seasoned cast iron pan. Iron is heavy, solid stuff, and if you make a mistake while casting it, there’s no going back for corrections. In the collectible cast iron market, misspellings have extra value. This “squar” egg skillet, known as “the mistake pan,” gets about twice the price of the “square” one.

7. “Tolkein”’s Hobbit

Photo courtesy of Tolkien Library 

Tolkien collectors are not kidding around. If somewhere there’s a scrap of paper related to J.R.R. Tolkien or his works that collectors have not yet discovered, it is bound to be discovered in due time. Even copies of the uncorrected proofs of his works have been dug up. In this proof of The Hobbit, Tolkien’s name was spelled incorrectly. That’s why they make proofs of books. So these things get caught and corrected before it’s too late.

8. “Millenium” Beanie Baby

Photo courtesy of Ebay

By the year 2000 the whole Beanie Baby craze was coming to an end. But the company got in a special year 2000 edition before the collectors market completely tanked. The Millennium Beanie Baby had a few different iterations. In the early ones, millennium was spelled with one ‘n.’ Today they’re worth about as much as you’d expect. Or rather, as little as you’d expect.

9. Brett “Farve” Card

Photo courtesy of Sports Card Album

In this 1991 Topps “Stadium Club” card, Brett Favre’s name is spelled wrong. He was a rookie then, pictured in his college uniform. His name would be spelled correctly on all future cards, but that still doesn’t mean people had figured out how to pronounce it.

10. Sherry “Magie” Card

Photo courtesy of BMW Cards

Sherwood “Sherry” Magee was one of the big stars of turn-of-the-century baseball in 1910. Still, even though he was captain of the Phillies at the time, they couldn’t get his name right on this card. It is now one of highest valued baseball cards for collectors. Even a banged up specimen is word thousands. In mint condition? According to this collectors guide, $90,000.

11. “Figthing” Irish

Photo courtesy of Deadspin

At the beginning of this season, Notre Dame fans who looked a little more closely at the “Fighting Irish” souvenir soda cups they had purchased at a game against Temple noticed that the cups lacked “fight.” But who needs fight when you’ve got figs?

12. Disney “Bobleds” in “Januray”

Photo courtesy of Disney Parks

Disney issues special pins for fans to collect and trade. Collector sites warn newcomers that printing errors almost always indicate that a pin is counterfeit. However, there are a few verified “error pins,” including one from “Januray” 1, 2000 and another about the Matterhorn “Bobleds.”

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9 Scandals that Rocked the Figure Skating World
ERIC FEFERBERG, AFP/Getty Images
ERIC FEFERBERG, AFP/Getty Images

Don't let the ornate costumes and beautiful choreography fool you, figure skaters are no strangers to scandal. Here are nine notable ones.

1. TONYA AND NANCY.

Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding
Pascal Rondeau, ALLSPORT/Getty Images

In 1994, a little club-and-run thrust the sport of figure skating into the spotlight. The assault on reigning national champion Nancy Kerrigan (and her subsequent anguished cries) at the 1994 U.S. National Figure Skating Championships in Detroit was heard round the world, as were the allegations that her main rival, Tonya Harding, may have been behind it all.

The story goes a little something like this: As America's sweetheart (Kerrigan) is preparing to compete for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team bound for Lillehammer, Norway, she gets clubbed in the knee outside the locker room after practice. Kerrigan is forced to withdraw from competition and Harding gets the gold. Details soon emerge that Harding's ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, was behind the attack (he hired a hitman). Harding denies any knowledge or involvement, but tanks at the Olympics the following month. She then pleads guilty to hindering prosecution of Gillooly and his co-conspirators, bodyguard Shawn Eckhart and hitman Shane Stant. And then she's banned from figure skating for life.

Questions about Harding's guilt remain two decades later, and the event is still a topic of conversation today. Recently, both an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary and the Oscar-nominated film I, Tonya revisited the saga, proving we can't get enough of a little figure skating scandal.

2. HAND-PICKED FOR GOLD.

Mirai Nagasu and Ashley Wagner at the podium
Jared Wickerham, Getty Images

Usually it's the top three medalists at the U.S. Nationals that compete for America at the Winter Olympics every four years. But in 2014, gold medalist Gracie Gold (no pun intended), silver medalist Polina Edmunds, and ... "pewter" medalist Ashley Wagner were destined for Sochi.

What about the bronze medalist, you ask? Mirai Nagasu, despite out-skating Wagner by a landslide in Boston and despite being the only skater with prior Olympic experience (she placed fourth at Vancouver in 2010) had to watch it all on television. The decision by the country's governing body of figure skating (United States Figure Skating Association, or USFS) deeply divided the skating community as to whether it was the right choice to pass over Nagasu in favor of Wagner, who hadn't skated so great, and it put a global spotlight on the selection process.

In reality, the athletes that we send to the Olympics are not chosen solely on their performance at Nationals—it's one of many criteria taken into consideration, including performance in international competition over the previous year, difficulty of each skater's technical elements, and, to some degree, their marketability to a world audience. This has happened before to other skaters—most notably Michelle Kwan was relegated to being an alternate in 1994 after Nancy Kerrigan was granted a medical bye after the leg-clubbing heard round the world. Nagasu had the right to appeal the decision, and was encouraged to do so by mobs of angry skating fans, but she elected not to.

3. SALT LAKE CITY, 2002.

Pairs skaters Jamie Sale and David Pelletier of Canada and Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze of Russia perform in the figure skating exhibition during the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games at the Salt Lake Ice Center in Salt Lake City, Utah
Brian Bahr, Getty Images

Objectively, this scandal rocked the skating world the hardest, because the end result was a shattering of the competitive sport's very structure. When Canadian pairs team Jamie Sale and David Pelletier found themselves in second place after a flawless freeskate at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake, something wasn't right. The Russian team of Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze placed first, despite a technically flawed performance.

An investigation into the result revealed that judges had conspired to fix the results of the pairs and dance events—a French judge admitted to being pressured to vote for the Russian pair in exchange for a boost for the French dance team (who won that event). In the end, both pairs teams were awarded a gold medal, and the entire system of judging figure skating competition was thrown out and rebuilt.

4. AGENT OF STYLE.

Jackson Haines was an American figure skater in the mid-1800s who had some crazy ideas about the sport. He had this absolutely ludicrous notion of skating to music (music!), waltzing on ice, as well as incorporating balletic movements, athletic jumps, and spins into competition. His brand new style of skating was in complete contrast to the rigid, traditional, and formal (read: awkward) standard of tracing figure-eights into the ice. Needless to say, it was not well received by the skating world in America, so he was forced to take his talents to the Old World.

His new “international style” did eventually catch on around the globe, and Haines is now hailed as the father of modern figure skating. He also invented the sit spin, a technical element now required in almost every level and discipline of the sport.

5. LADIES LAST.

In 1902, competitive figure skating was a gentlemen's pursuit. Ladies simply didn't compete by themselves on the world stage (though they did compete in pairs events). But a British skater named Madge Syers flouted that standard, entering the World Figure Skating Championships in 1902. She ruffled a lot of feathers, but was ultimately allowed to compete and beat the pants off every man save one, earning the silver medal.

Her actions sparked a controversy that spurred the International Skating Union to create a separate competitive world event for women in 1906. Madge went on to win that twice, and became Olympic champion at the 1908 summer games [PDF] in London—the first “winter” Olympics weren't held until 1924 in France, several years after Madge died in 1917.

6. AGENT OF STYLE, PART 2.

A picture of Norwegian figure skater Sonja Henie
Keystone/Getty Images

Norwegian skater Sonja Henie was the darling of the figure skating world in the first half of the 20th century. The flirtatious blonde was a three-time Olympic champion, a movie star, and the role model of countless aspiring skaters. She brought sexy back to skating—or rather, introduced it. She was the first skater to wear scandalously short skirts and white skates. Prior to her bold fashion choices, ladies wore black skates and long, conservative skirts. During WWII, a fabric shortage hiked up the skirts even further than Henie's typical length, and the ladies of figure skating have never looked back.

7. TOO SEXY FOR HER SKATES.

Katarina Witt displaying her gold medal
DANIEL JANIN, AFP/Getty Images

A buxom young beauty from the former Democratic German Republic dominated ladies figure skating in the mid- to late 1980s. A two-time Olympic champion, and one of the most decorated female skaters in history, Katarina Witt was just too sexy for her shirt—she tended to wear scandalously revealing costumes (one of which resulted in a wardrobe malfunction during a show), and was criticized for attempting to flirt with the judges to earn higher scores.

The ISU put the kibosh on the controversial outfits soon afterward, inserting a rule that all competitive female skaters “must not give the effect of excessive nudity inappropriate for an athletic sport.” The outrage forced Witt to add some fabric to her competitive outfits in the late '80s. But 10 years later she took it all off, posing naked for a 1998 issue of Playboy.

8. MORE COSTUME CONTROVERSY.

For the 2010 competitive year, the ISU's annual theme for the original dance segment (since defunct and replaced by the “short dance”) was “country/folk.” That meant competitors had to create a routine that explored some aspect of it, in both music and costume as well as in maneuvers. The top Russian pair chose to emulate Aboriginal tribal dancing in their program, decked in full bodysuits adorned with their interpretation of Aboriginal body paint (and a loincloth).

Their debut performance at the European Championships drew heavy criticism from Aboriginal groups in both Australia and Canada, who were greatly offended by the inaccuracy of the costumes and the routine. The Russian pair, Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin, were quick to dial down the costumes and dial up the accuracy in time for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, but the judges were not impressed. They ended up with the bronze, ending decades of Russian dominance in the discipline. (With the glaring exception of 2002, of course.)

9. IN MEMORIAM.

While not a scandal, this event bears mentioning because it has rocked the figure skating world arguably more than anything else. In February of 1961, the American figure skating team boarded a flight to Belgium from New York, en route to the World Championships in Prague. The plane went down mysteriously (cause still questioned today) as it tried to land in Brussels, killing all 72 passengers. America's top skaters and coaches had been aboard, including nine-time U.S. Champion and Olympic bronze medalist-turned-coach Maribel Vinson-Owen and her daughter Laurence Owen, a 16-year-old who had been heavily favored to win the ladies event that year.

The ISU canceled the competition upon the news of the crash and the United States lost its long-held dominance in the sport for almost a decade. The United States Figure Skating Association (USFS) soon after established a memorial fund that helped support the skating careers of competitors in need of financial assistance, including future Olympic champions like Scott Hamilton and Peggy Fleming.

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How Austrian Soldiers Saved the 1964 Olympics
Allsport Hulton/Archive
Allsport Hulton/Archive

Although the Austrian city of Innsbruck has a well-deserved reputation as a winter sports mecca, it was dangerously low on snow and ice in the weeks leading up the 1964 Winter Olympics. So the organizers called in the troops.

Austrian soldiers went to work carving 20,000 blocks of ice away from the top of the mountain and then toting them down to make luge and bobsled tracks. In order to salvage the skiing events, the soldiers had to lug 40,000 cubic meters of snow from the tops of mountains down to the slopes that had been chosen for the various races. On top of that, they brought down an extra 20,000 cubic meters just in case anything bad happened to the first batch of snow.

And oh, how something bad did happen! Ten days before the opening ceremony, it started raining. As you probably know, rain and snow aren't the closest of chums, so much of the work that had already been done on the courses melted. The Austrian army again came to the rescue, though, taking to the slopes and tamping down the remaining snow by hand and foot. Thanks to this bit of resourcefulness, the games went on as planned.

Things aren't quite that tricky today, though. Artificially produced snow made its debut at the 1980 Winter Olympics, but the old "bring in some outside snow" tactic isn't totally dead. When the snow forecast for the Vancouver freestyle skiing and snowboarding venue Cypress Mountain looked grim in 2010, the organizers started trucking in loads of snow from other locations. Engineers then spread the snow on top of carefully situated bales of hay to give the slopes their desired shape. (How do you get bales of hay on a ski slope? You drop them from a helicopter.)

Of course, there's such a thing as too much winter weather for the Olympics, too. Snow and rain plagued the 1998 Nagano Games and led to lengthy delays and postponements for some events.

This post originally appeared in 2010.

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