US Stamps

By Larry Secchiaroli

To list or not list recent U.S. imperforate stamps or varieties

November 23, 2014 10:15 PM

  • Collectors in 1893, when the Columbians were issued, felt that the Post Office Department was gouging them. The set of 16, with denominations ranging from 1¢ to $5, has a face value of $16.

I have read the numerous letters to the editor in Linn’s Stamp News regarding the subject of the imperforate press sheets being issued by the United States Postal Service.

Many collectors believe these are issued to gouge stamp collectors.

I do not disagree with this assessment but have decided to add them to my collection.

Stamp collectors it seems do not remember their history. When the 1893 Columbians were issued, collectors at that time also felt the Post Office Department was gouging them. What was the need for the high-value dollar stamps? Plus, $16 was a lot of money back then.

I have read that up through World War II these stamps sold as discount postage. It wasn’t until post WWII, with the affluence of America into suburbia, that collectors began going after these stamps. Today, the quality of a stamp collection is measured in part by whether or not it contains these stamps.

The Scott catalog today lists many items that, when scrutinized in detail, begs the question as to why they are being listed. Based upon recent arguments of both collectors and Scott editors as to why the modern imperfs are not being listed, these same arguments may be applied to the older items.

For instance, the 1875 Special Printing stamps. Were these not also issued to gouge collectors at that time? There was never any time when you were able to go to a post office to purchase these items. There was no need for these stamps to move the mail. Many of them were never even valid for postage, so why are they given major listings? Maybe they should be listed as souvenirs or essays or as some new category in the catalog. Why not just relegate them to footnotes like the modern imperfs are being listed.

How about the Orangeburg coil? Again, there was at no opportunity for a collector at that time to go to their local post office to purchase any of these.

How about the 1902 series coils? Unless collectors lived in a few of the cities that had the vending machines that dispensed these, they had no chance of getting these stamps.

There are numerous other examples, including all the great rarities. Maybe that is why they are rare, and most collectors will never own them.

Stamp clubs also have a great opportunity to revive the hobby and add members to their ranks. Why not use the power in numbers by purchasing these imperf issues for the members? One member might want a pair, another a block, etc. The club can purchase the desired quantity, break up and distribute them, and use the remainder to dress up their mail.

If the cash-strapped USPS received a deluge of orders in the order of 10,000 to 15,000, I would hope they would increase production from the present 1,500 to 2,500 to cover the added demand.

The same thing can be done with coils. Collectors have been complaining that they need to purchase a full roll to receive a plate number strip of five. Why haven’t I seen stamp clubs use this opportunity to increase their memberships?

Instead of complaining, do something positive. Turn lemons into lemonade, and think outside the box for a change.

Now we have the Circus souvenir sheet only obtainable with The 2014 Stamp Yearbook. This, too, I have decided to collect, so I have preordered a book. It is valid for postage and an official issue of the United States.

Logically, if a stamp is valid for postage and officially issued by the USPS, list it in the Scott catalog. Many of the 1875 Special Printings don’t fully pass this litmus test and yet they have a major listing.

I say to Scott editors, give these modern issues major listings. I say to collectors, collect what you want and let others decide what they want to collect or not collect. There are already many blank spaces in your albums that you will never fill.

The Scott editors should list all that exists, and no one should dictate what someone shall or shall not collect.

If collectors would stop bellyaching and just enjoy the hobby, maybe we could see a positive turnaround in the hobby. Outsiders will see how much fun we should be having and might want to join in.

I believe we all started in this great hobby for the enjoyment. Let’s get back to our roots and enjoy.