Section 604 of the United States Postal Service’s Domestic Mail Manual is titled “Postage Payment Methods and Refunds.”
This is a stern warning, but the reality is that the reuse of stamps is a common practice today.
In years past, when more eyes and hands examined mail, mail bearing reused stamps often was caught, removed from the mailstream, marked to indicate the nature of the infraction, and returned to the sender for postage.
Today, letters bearing reused stamps (first-class letters, in particular) stand a much better chance of getting through undetected because the handling and processing (applying a postmark, etc.) of mail is almost entirely automated.
I see examples of reused stamps on a regular basis while sorting through subscription-reply mail sent to the circulation department of Linn’s parent company, Amos Media.
For the most part, the reused stamp has been carefully and closely cut from its original envelope and either glued or taped in place.
(Use of glue or tape is considered a form of defacement by the Postal Service, and thus violates section 604, subsection 1.3 of the DMM: “Postage Stamps Invalid for Use.”)
Sometimes, though, the sender makes no secret of the fact that the stamp paying for the postage is being reused.
One brazen case in point is illustrated above.
Taking a nod from collectors of postal stationery, the sender fashioned a cut square of sorts by clipping a U.S. 2014 nondenominated (49¢) Flag forever coil stamp (Scott 4896) from another envelope and then affixing the cut square with tape before mailing.
Note that the golden yellow paper of the clipped envelope stands out, to put it mildly, against the white paper of the mailing envelope. This stark color contrast is what immediately caught my eye.
When I looked more closely, an added bonus was revealed — the Flag coil bears a plate number, C11. The “C” prefix is for CCL Label, which until earlier this year printed stamps for the Postal Service.
Please share examples of blatant reuse of stamps by emailing pictures of your covers to email@example.com. Any that tickle my fancy might appear in a future blog.
Until next time, happy collecting. Cheers!