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The Daily Mail

12 Things Made Collectible Thanks to Spelling Errors 

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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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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
technology
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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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iStock
Animals
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Scientists Think They Know How Whales Got So Big
May 24, 2017
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iStock

It can be difficult to understand how enormous the blue whale—the largest animal to ever exist—really is. The mammal can measure up to 105 feet long, have a tongue that can weigh as much as an elephant, and have a massive, golf cart–sized heart powering a 200-ton frame. But while the blue whale might currently be the Andre the Giant of the sea, it wasn’t always so imposing.

For the majority of the 30 million years that baleen whales (the blue whale is one) have occupied the Earth, the mammals usually topped off at roughly 30 feet in length. It wasn’t until about 3 million years ago that the clade of whales experienced an evolutionary growth spurt, tripling in size. And scientists haven’t had any concrete idea why, Wired reports.

A study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B might help change that. Researchers examined fossil records and studied phylogenetic models (evolutionary relationships) among baleen whales, and found some evidence that climate change may have been the catalyst for turning the large animals into behemoths.

As the ice ages wore on and oceans were receiving nutrient-rich runoff, the whales encountered an increasing number of krill—the small, shrimp-like creatures that provided a food source—resulting from upwelling waters. The more they ate, the more they grew, and their bodies adapted over time. Their mouths grew larger and their fat stores increased, helping them to fuel longer migrations to additional food-enriched areas. Today blue whales eat up to four tons of krill every day.

If climate change set the ancestors of the blue whale on the path to its enormous size today, the study invites the question of what it might do to them in the future. Changes in ocean currents or temperature could alter the amount of available nutrients to whales, cutting off their food supply. With demand for whale oil in the 1900s having already dented their numbers, scientists are hoping that further shifts in their oceanic ecosystem won’t relegate them to history.

[h/t Wired]

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