US Stamps

By Michael Baadke

Postal Service to issue new variety of Spectrum Eagle coil stamps Sept. 2

August 28, 2015 01:30 PM

  • The six nondenominated (25¢) Spectrum Eagle presorted first-class coil stamps first appeared at the beginning of 2012. The new variety shown here has a Sept. 2 issue date and a “2015” year date positioned to the right of the five stars above the eagle’s profile.

By Michael Baadke

The United States Postal Service will issue a new variety of the six nondenominated (25¢) Spectrum Eagle presorted first-class coil stamps first issued in 2012.

The new stamps have a Sept. 2 issue date. First-day covers will be postmarked Eagleville, Mo., a village of “approximately 316” people, according to the Eagleville website. It is roughly 100 miles north of Kansas City, Mo. No first-day ceremony is planned.

The colorful stamp designs are almost identical to the Spectrum Eagle self-adhesive coils issued Jan. 3, 2012. Those earlier stamps were gravure-printed by former USPS contract printer Avery Dennison; the new variety is offset-printed by Ashton Potter.

Based on an image provided by the Postal Service, the new stamps have a 2015 year date in white, positioned reading down along the right edge of each stamp near the top, to the right of the five white stars above the eagle portrait.

The original issue from three and a half years ago had the year date in black, reading up just to the right of the lower tablet containing the inscription “Presorted First-Class.”

The stamps for both issues were designed by USPS art director Ethel Kessler, with an illustration by Michael Osborne.

The USPS description of the design states: “The eagle’s profile is depicted in white, set against a sequence of six varying shades of reds, yellows, greens, and blues. Each color blends with the one following, resulting in a gradual spectrum from left to right across the six stamps.”

The stamps are available in a coil of 10,000 for use by commercial mailers with permits to send presorted first-class mail (mail grouped by ZIP code) at a reduced cost.

For that reason, there is a small space between each stamp on the coil to facilitate automated stamp affixing.

Collectors also are allowed to use these stamps, which fall into a category familiarly known as precanceled postage, according the USPS Domestic Mail Manual section 604.3.5, with certain restrictions.

The collector must complete and file USPS form 3615 at the post office where mailings are to be deposited (there is no fee for the permit). 

The outgoing mail must be franked with postage meeting the full first-class mail rate (currently 49¢ for 1 ounce or less), and be endorsed “first-class mail” immediately below the stamps. And the mail must be handed to a clerk in the post office where the mailer’s completed permit is kept on file.

A plate number consisting of the letter P followed by four single digits appears on every 27th stamp, below the stamp image, according to USPS specifications published in the Aug. 20 edition of the USPS Postal Bulletin, and confirmed by a Postal Service spokesman.

If that information is correct, the coil stamp with the plate number might be out of color sequence in the coils, considering that 27 cannot be evenly divided by six, or the coil might have some unusual variation from the 2012 issue, which featured a plate number on every 30th stamp.

Collectors can purchase a coil strip of 25 stamps from the Postal Service as USPS item 788531 for $6.25.

The Postal Service also is offering a set of six first-day covers as item 788517 for $5.64.

Additional technical details and first-day cancel ordering information are given below. 

Nondenominated (25¢) Spectrum Eagle presorted first-class stamps; six designs in self-adhesive coil of 10,000

FIRST DAY— Sept. 2, 2015; city— Eagleville, Mo., and nationwide.

DESIGN: illustrator— Michael Osborne, San Francisco, Calif.; designer, art director and typographer— Ethel Kessler, Bethesda, Md.; modeler— Joseph Sheeran.

PRINTING: process— offset; printer and processor— Ashton Potter USA, Williamsville, N.Y.; press— Muller A76; inks— cyan, magenta, yellow, black; paper— nonphosphored, Type III; gum— self-adhesive; issue quantity— 150 million stamps; format— coils of 10,000, from 594-subject cylinders; size— 0.73 inches by 0.84 inches (image); 0.87 inches by 0.98 inches (overall); plate numbers— “P” followed by four single digits, every 27th stamp; USPS item No.— 788500.

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. Each cover must have sufficient postage to meet the first-class mail requirement First-day cover envelopes should be addressed for return (a removable label may be used), and mailed in a larger envelope addressed to Spectrum Eagle Stamps, Cancellation Services, 8300 NE Underground Drive, Pillar 210, Kansas City, MO 64144-0001. Requests for first-day cancels must be postmarked by Nov. 1.

The Postal Service’s uncacheted first-day cover for a set of six of the Spectrum Eagles stamps is item No. 788517 at $5.64. USPS order numbers for stamps and FDCs also appear in Linn’s 2015 U.S. Stamp Program.