insights

Even non denominated stamps have a value

October 25, 1999 12:49 PM

  • The 10¢ Bulk Rate Eagle and Shield stamp.
  • The 33¢ H-rate stamp.

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.