By Michael Baadke
There are several reasons why a stamp may be issued without a denomination printed upon it. For United States stamps, the reason often is that the U.S. Postal Service doesn't know well enough in advance the value the stamp will have.
The Postal Service claims it requires several months to create the design of a new stamp and then print the millions of stamps it has to have on hand to fulfill the needs of postal customers and stamp collectors.
When the Postal Service seeks an increase in domestic postal rates, it must wait for approval from the Postal Rate Commission, an independent agency of the executive branch of the federal government.
Once a rate change plan is approved, the Postal Service may choose to put it into effect very quickly.
For that reason, it prints hundreds of millions of nondenominated stamps well in advance that it can sell at the new rate as soon as it goes into effect.
Most recently, the domestic letter rate in the United States increased by 1¢ on Jan. 10, 1999, from 32¢ to 33¢.
The Postal Service issued billions of stamps showing a representation of Uncle Sam's hat and marked with a large "H."
The H-rate Hat stamps were actually printed years earlier. When the rate change went into effect the stamp was assigned a value of 33¢ to fulfill the new letter rate.
Why is the stamp marked "H"?
It was the next letter in a sequence of nondenominated stamps that began with "A" stamps that had a value of 15¢.
The A-rate stamps were issued May 22, 1978. Postage rates increased from 13¢ to 15¢ one week later. Since then there have also been stamps issued marked with the letters B, C, D, E, F and G.
The chart on this page shows these and all other nondenominated U.S. regular postage stamps, and it provides the face values, Scott catalog numbers and issue dates for each.
A few of these stamps are available in varieties that have noticeable design differences but basically all resemble one another.
For example, the Eagle and Shield bulk-rate stamp shown at far left in the fourth row has been issued with the inscriptions "Bulk Rate USA," "USA Bulk Rate," and "USA Presorted Std." Regardless of the inscription, the stamp has a nominal value of 10¢.
Such stamps are often called "service inscribed" stamps because the stamp actually has printed upon it the specific mailing class that it fulfills, such as bulk rate, presorted first-class, or nonprofit.
Along with regular postage stamps, the United States has issued nondenominated Official stamps inscribed Postal Card Rate D (value 14¢), Domestic Letter Rate D (22¢), Domestic mail E (25¢), F (29¢) and G (32¢).
On occasion, the United States also has issued nondenominated stamped envelopes and postal cards. For envelopes the face values are A (15¢), B (18¢), C (20¢), D (22¢), Old Glory G (32¢), Nonprofit Sheep (5¢), and Bulk Rate Stylized Eagle (10¢).
The Official mail F-rate envelope has a value of 29¢.
For nondenominated U.S. postal cards, the face values are John Hancock (10¢), Purple Eagle (12¢), Robert Morris (13¢), Charles Carroll (14¢) and Old Glory G (20¢).
The postage values on nondenominated U.S. stamps and stationery items do not ever change, so items usually require additional postage if used for mailing.
blogIn this column in the Aug. 24 issue of Linn’s, I referred to the American Philatelic Research Library in Bellefonte, Pa., as a “gift to stamp collectors.” The BNAPS library and the APRL are two of many libraries available to stamp collectors, and some philatelic libraries are available online. Read More ›
blogIt’s often been said that one of the salutary benefits of collecting stamps is the friendships made along one’s philatelic journey. If I were asked to place a value on the bonds thus forged with collectors in locales near and far, I would be rich beyond measure. A few of these hobby friends I have never met in person. Read More ›
blogToday, Nov. 11, 2015, is Veterans Day. Over the years, a number of United States stamps honoring those who have served in our nation’s armed forces have been issued. Read More ›
blogMy previous blog post focused on a mystery: the apparent indentations of paper clips on United States Purple Heart forever stamps that were used to mail payments to the circulation department of my employer, Amos Media in Sidney, Ohio. Read More ›
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News associate editor Michael Baadke reports on a new Charlie Brown computer-vended postage stamp that is sold only through post office self-service kiosks.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News senior editor Denise McCarty discusses Great Britain’s final stamp issue for 2015, a Star Wars prestige booklet, and reveals what is included in its stamp program for 2016.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News managing editor Chad Snee discusses a registered 1967 cover from Qatar that recently sold for almost $1,200 and the latest discovery of an Upright Jenny Invert pane.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News editorial director Donna Houseman announces that Linn’s has been named official daily publisher of World Stamp Show-NY 2016 and provides an update on the reorganization of the Scott catalogs.
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.