US Stamps

By Jay Bigalke

$2 Circus souvenir sheet Dec. 10; no limit for press sheet

November 14, 2014 09:05 AM

  • Preliminary image for the $2 Circus souvenir sheet to be issued Dec. 10 in Baraboo, Wis. The mint souvenir sheet with die cuts is only being offered with the purchase of the $64.95 The 2014 Stamp Yearbook.

The single mint three-stamp $2 Circus souvenir sheet from the United States Postal Service, available only with the purchase of The 2014 Stamp Yearbook, debuts Dec. 10.

Baraboo, Wis., home to the Circus World Museum and the former site of the Ringling Brothers circus headquarters, will be featured as the official first-day city for the upcoming $2 Circus souvenir sheet.

No ceremony is planned, according to the United States Postal Service. The postmark on first-day covers will read Baraboo.

The single mint souvenir sheet contains a previously unissued $1 Clown stamp and two examples of a previously unissued 50¢ Circus Wagon stamp.

The 2014 Stamp Yearbook is sold for $64.95 and is USPS item 991400. The face value of the 90 stamps in the book totals $44.63. When subtracting that value from the yearbook selling price, $20.32 is left for the expense of the book and the stamp mounts. The yearbook typically consists of illustrated descriptions of the stamps issued throughout the year, and includes the commemorative stamps with stamp mounts.

A press sheet will be issued as well. Pre-orders for the press sheet were set to start Nov. 10, with USPS item number 588708. Collectors reported being able to place orders via phone, but the online listing for the press sheet did not appear until Nov. 12.

A total of 10,000 press sheets will be offered, and each will consist of 12 souvenir sheets and sell for the face value of $24. Collectors were initially limited to purchasing five of the press sheets, first learned from collectors placing phone orders in early November. Initially, the web listing for the press sheet did not indicate any limit.

"There is no limit," Postal Service spokesman Mark Saunders told Linn's Nov. 14. "We will reaffirm with the Call Centers and Customer Service."

Saunders indicated to Linn’s in an earlier report that “the souvenir sheets on the press sheets will be partially die-cut,” and explained that the stamps within the souvenir sheet will not be die cut, but the edges of the individual souvenir sheets will be die cut to shape.

A first-day cover of the souvenir sheet without die cuts also will be made available with a black-ink Baraboo, Wis., postmark. No digital color postmark will be offered. The first-day cover is USPS item No. 588716 and sells for $4.50.

There will not be an uncacheted first-day cover produced by the Postal Service for the normal souvenir sheet with die cuts.

Banknote Corporation of America, for Sennett Security Products, produced a total of 900,000 stamps, or 300,000 souvenir sheets.

A large part of that production quantity includes the souvenir sheets produced as press sheets.

The $1 Clown stamp was printed by the offset printing process with a tagging block applied to that stamp. The two 50¢ stamps were printed using intaglio red ink.

The souvenir sheet was designed by Jennifer Arnold, Greg Breeding designed the $1 Clown stamp, and Joe Brockert the 50¢ Circus Wagon stamp.

Breeding used a poster design similar to the Barnum and Bailey Clown Poster forever stamp (Scott 4898) issued May 5 as part of the Vintage Circus Posters eight-stamp set (4898-4905).

The new 50¢ Circus Wagon stamp is based on the intaglio-printed Circus Wagon 1900s Transportation coil stamp denominated 5¢ (as “05”) that was issued in 1990 (Scott 2452).

The idea for the Circus souvenir sheet was revealed by former USPS Stamp Services director Susan McGowan during an Aug. 21 meeting with stamp journalists in Hartford, Conn. She indicated at that meeting that the idea for the souvenir sheet was inspired by Australia Post.

Technical details and first-day postmark ordering information are provided below. Collectors have 60-days to mail in requests for the Baraboo first-day postmark.

$2 Circus souvenir sheet

FIRST DAY— Dec. 10, 2014; city— Baraboo, Wis., and nationwide.

DESIGN: Circus Wagon artist— Susan Sanford, Front Royal, Va.; souvenir sheet designer, Clown stamp designer, Clown stamp typographer— Jennifer Arnold, Washington, D.C.; Circus Wagon stamp designer and art director— Joe Brockert, Washington, D.C.; Clown stamp art director— Greg Breeding, Charlottesville, Va.; Circus Wagon stamp typographer— Brad Thompson; modeler— Donald Woo.

PRINTING: process— intaglio and offset with microprinting only on the Clown stamp; printer and processor— Banknote Corporation of America for Sennett Security Products, Browns Summit, N.C.; press— Alprinta 74 (offset Clown stamp), Phoenix (intaglio Circus Wagon stamp); inks— cyan, magenta, yellow, black (offset), Pantone Matching System 179 red (intaglio); paper— phosphor tagged block on Clown stamp, no phosphor on Circus Wagon stamp; gum— self-adhesive; issue quantity— 900,000 stamps; format— souvenir sheet of three, from 36-subject cylinders; size— 2.27 inches by 1.81 inches (Clown stamp image); 2.42 inches by 1.96 inches (Clown stamp overall); 0.73 inches by 0.84 inches (Circus Wagon stamp image); 0.87 inches by 0.98 inches (Circus Wagon stamp overall); 4.97 inches by 3.38 inches (full souvenir sheet); plate numbers— none; marginal markings— “©2014 USPS,” USPS logo, plate position diagram, barcode; USPS item No.— 991400 (only sold in conjunction with purchase of The 2014 Stamp Yearbook for $64.95).

First-day cancel ordering information

Standard ordering instructions apply. Collectors requesting first-day cancels are encouraged to purchase their own stamps and affix them to envelopes. The first-day cover envelopes should be addressed for return (a removable label may be used), and mailed in a larger envelope addressed to Circus Souvenir Sheet, Postmaster, 303 Broadway St., Baraboo, WI 53913-6738. Requests for first-day cancels must be postmarked by Feb. 8.

The Postal Service’s uncacheted first-day cover for the $2 Circus souvenir sheet (stamps without die cuts) is item No. 588716 at $4.50.

Updated 11/14/2014 1:33 PM