By Michael Baadke
Recently I had the opportunity to go through a box of discarded envelopes mailed from all over the country between the middle of December 1998 and the middle of January of this year.
That period includes the Jan. 10 date that United States domestic letter rates increased by 1¢.
I thought it would be fun to see if I could find some nice examples showing how the Jan. 10 rate change went into effect, and how mailers complied with the new rates.
I came across a handful of envelopes that were mailed on Jan. 9, the last day that the 32¢ letter rate was still valid. Three different examples are shown in Figure 1.
An envelope marked with a 32¢ Jan. 9 meter stamp is shown at the top of the illustration. Below it are a 32¢ Liberty Bell stamped envelope and a 32¢ Flag Over Porch stamp, both canceled with Jan. 9 postmarks.
Because Jan. 10 fell on a Sunday, envelopes bearing this date in the cancel are likely to be scarce. I didn't find any in the 200 or so envelopes I went through, so I settled on the next day — Jan. 11 — to illustrate how the new rate went into effect.
Figure 2 shows three Jan. 11 examples. The top cover shows a 33¢ metered cover with a Jan. 11 date. Below it is a Jan. 11 cover franked with the nondenominated 33¢ H-rate Hat stamp. This cover was dated twice: once with an Easton, Md., standard machine cancel, and once with an Eastern Shore sprayed-on cancel.
The third cover in the illustration shows a Jan. 11 cover bearing a 32¢ Wreath stamp and a nondenominated (1¢) Weather Vane makeup-rate stamp to meet the new rate.
The common first-class letter rate was not the only rate to increase on Jan. 10, and I was pleased to find one cover in my batch that correctly showed an increase in a lesser-known rate.
The Jan. 11 meter-stamp-franked cover pictured in Figure 3 shows 26.1¢ postage paid for presorted first-class mail.
That meets the new rate for the first ounce of what is known as 3-digit automation: mail sorted by ZIP code to a specific level.
Prior to Jan. 10, the rate for this presorted classification was 23.8¢.
I didn't find one of the new 33¢ Flag envelopes used on Jan. 11, and chances are that I won't. They were issued in Washington, D.C., on that date and were not available nationwide until the following day.
Figure 4 shows an interesting selection of nine envelopes that are also related to the rate change.
Let's start at the top and work our way down.
The first envelope is common, showing a 33¢ Hat stamp to pay postage Jan. 4, when the rate was still 32¢. These stamps were placed on sale Nov. 9, 1998, so there will be plenty of regularly mailed covers such as this one that were sent prior to the date of the rate change.
The next envelope is a little puzzling. Apparently the mailer wasn't sure when the rate change was going into effect, so he added the 1¢ Weather Vane stamp to his 32¢ Stephen Vincent Benet stamp, even though the cover was mailed Jan. 7, three days before the rates increased.
The cover showing the single 32¢ Madonna and Child stamp is postmarked Jan. 11, making it look like the envelope is short-paid, but it's possible that it was mailed Saturday, Jan. 9 at a location that had no mail pick-up scheduled until Monday, Jan. 11.
I'll be watching for later examples of short-paid mail to add to this collection.
The remaining examples all meet or exceed the new rate in various ways.
Reported shortages of 1¢ stamps across the country may account for the extra postage paid by four mailers: two 20¢ (postcard rate) Blue Jay stamps paying 40¢, a 1991 19¢ Fawn stamp and a 32¢ Flag Over Porch paying 51¢, two 32¢ Wreath stamps paying 64¢, and a 2¢ Mary Lyon accompanying a 32¢ Statue of Liberty to pay 34¢.
The same stamp shortage may have been the reason that a postal clerk in Coldwater, Ohio, created a 1¢ postage validation imprint label to place alongside a customer's 32¢ Statue of Liberty stamp on Jan. 12.
The final cover in Figure 4 shows another 33¢ meter stamp, but with an unusual twist: the date in the meter is Dec. 19, 1999.
Judging by the accompanying sprayed-on marking, the cover was actually mailed Jan. 19, 1999. It looks like the person in charge of this particular postage meter remembered to change the year date when the time came to do so, but forgot to advance the setting for the proper month.
Collectors all over the country will have fun looking for different examples similar to the ones shown here, as well as others, such as postage due markings for short-paid mail, covers that reflect new fees for certified and registered mail, new Express Mail and Priority Mail rates, and more.
Put them all together, and they make an interesting collection that shows a contemporary slice of United States postal history.
July 23, 2015 04:35 PMThe Tieton, Wash., post office is a simple 1935 cement block building with a slat wood facade. Townsfolk in the agricultural community of 1,200 in central Washington believe the post office could become a landmark, if only the United States Postal Service would allow them to cover the front with a stamp-like mosaic. Read More ›
July 23, 2015 03:11 PMThe American Philatelic Society will host the nation’s largest annual stamp exhibition Aug. 20-23. The show will take place at the DeVos Place Convention Center, 303 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids, Mich. Read More ›
July 21, 2015 01:00 PMLinn’s Washington Correspondent Bill McAllister recently reported that the Inspector General of the United States Postal Service has taken the nation’s mail agency to task for intentionally creating 100 upright $2 Jenny Invert panes. Read More ›
July 19, 2015 07:23 PMHere in Sidney, Ohio, when the hot, sultry days of summer are upon us, the Scott catalog editors begin to feel the heat of deadlines for the two Scott specialized catalogs. Read More ›
Watch as Scott catalog senior editor Marty Frankevicz discusses the largest souvenir card produced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The card is one of three issued to honor the centenary of San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News associate editor Michael Baadke discusses Canada’s recently recalled $1.20 Dinosaur Provincial Park stamps featuring inaccurately described Hoodoo rock formations.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News editorial director Donna Houseman discusses the discovery of another pane of the intentionally created upright variety of the $2 Jenny Invert stamp.
Chad Snee discusses the recent sale of the glass locket containing the famed 1918 Jenny Invert airmail error stamp.
It is always a treat to get to see stamp dealers’ own collections.
In the recently concluded Linn’s United States Stamp Popularity Poll, the Circus Posters set of eight stamps was chosen as the overall favorite issue of 2014.
Dispersal of the splendid Daniel B. Curtis collection continued March 25, with Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries gaveling items from United States back-of-the-book and possessions.
The 175th anniversary of the first postage stamp, Great Britain's Penny Black, is May 6, but the stamp was placed on sale May 1, 1840, for mailers to use beginning on May 6, the designated issue date.