Definitions

bêche

Tête-bêche

[tet-besh]

In philately, tête-bêche (French for "head-to-tail", lit. "head-to-head") is a joined pair of stamps in which one is upside-down in relation to the other, produced intentionally or accidentally. Like any pair of stamps, a pair of tête-bêches can be a vertical or a horizontal pair. In the case of a pair of triangular stamps, they cannot help but be linked "head-to-tail". Mechanical errors during the process of production can result in tête-bêches, but in most cases tête-bêches are produced for the purpose of collecting.

During the printing of stamps for booklets, the pages of stamps are usually printed in multiples from a larger printing plate. This can result in tête-bêche pairs. It is unusual for these pairs to find their way into the postal system, as they are cut into individual booklet pages before binding into the distributed booklet. A block of 24 5d Machin stamps, which should have been guillotined into four booklet pages, includes four tête-bêche pairs. This was sold in 1970, in the normal course of business, by the British Post Office and is exhibited by a member of the Royal Mail Stamp Advisory Committee.

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