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The Montreal heist involving guns, stamps and a sledgehammer

Stamp collecting isn't normally a particularly dangerous hobby. But some rarer philatelic specimens can be worth a lot of money to potential thieves.

The five-cent stamps were misprinted, but their rare nature made them valuable to collectors

Thieves used force to steal some rare, misprinted stamps from a Montreal stamp convention in January of 1980. 0:25
Stamp collecting isn't normally considered a particularly dangerous hobby.

But some rarer philatelic specimens can be worth pursuing by potential thieves, as demonstrated by a heist that unfolded at a Montreal stamp show nearly four decades ago.

On Jan. 26, 1980, a pair of armed robbers got away with a sheet of 25 Canadian stamps, which had been put on display.

"The stamps, issued in 1959, have a face value of five cents each," the CBC's George McLean told viewers at the close of The National that night. 

"But they became collector's items when part of the design was printed upside down."

The set of those now-missing stamps was rare enough, in fact, to have an estimated value of $500,000 to collectors, McLean also told viewers.

According to a wire report that ran in the Toronto Star, the robbers used sledgehammers to break through glass to get at the stamps, after forcing on-site security guards to lie down on the floor.

Police believed the stamp thieves knew exactly what they had in their hands and it was possible they were stamp collectors themselves, the report said.

As for those upside-down stamps — they've seemingly never turned up.