US Stamps

By Michael Baadke

All the ways you can buy the new U.S. Flag stamp

January 09, 2017 05:00 PM

  • A new U.S. Flag forever stamp will be issued in six formats on Jan. 27, including an ATM pane, booklets, and coils. A first-day ceremony is planned during a stamp show in Norcross, Ga.
  • The official first-day cancel for the 2017 U.S. Flag stamp includes pictorial elements.
  • The Flag forever stamps issued in 2016 shared a single design printed in multiple formats.

By Michael Baadke

The United States Postal Service will issue new nondenominated (49¢) U.S. Flag forever stamps on Jan. 27.

The Postal Service plans to increase the U.S. letter rate from 47¢ to 49¢ beginning Jan. 22.

The single design, featuring a closely cropped photograph by Tom Grill of the fluttering Stars and Stripes, will be offered in six different formats, resulting in what appear to be five major varieties.

Final determination of the Scott-listed major varieties will come from the Scott catalog editors after they have examined the various individual stamps.

The stamps are being sold in a single-sided pane of 10, two different double-sided panes of 20, two different coils of 100, and a pane of 18 designed to be dispensed from automatic teller machines.

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The 10-stamp and 20-stamp pane varieties are identified as booklets by the U.S. Postal Service.

The booklet of 10, one pane of 20, and one coil of 100 were printed and processed by Banknote Corporation of America.

The remaining pane of 20 and coil of 100 were printed and processed by USPS contractor Ashton Potter.

Technical details and printing quantities for the ATM pane of 18 have not been released.

The booklet and coil stamps generally can be distinguished from one another because of differences such as the gauge or measurement of the die-cut simulated perforations, and the placement and characteristics of the microprinted text found within the design.

It is likely that single stamps from the BCA booklet of 10 and double-sided pane of 20 will have little to distinguish them from each other, and for that reason will be assigned one Scott catalog number for either stamp.

The Ashton Potter stamps carry a plate number beginning with the letter P followed by four single digits.

Plate numbers on the BCA printings begin with the letter B followed by four single digits.

The stamps are all offset-printed with microprinting in the central design.

The new stamps will be welcomed with an 11 a.m. ceremony during the Southeastern Stamp Expo, taking place at the Hilton Atlanta Northeast, 5993 Peachtree Industrial Blvd., Norcross, GA 30092. The stamp show, hosted by the Southeast Federation of Stamp Clubs, runs from Jan. 27 to 29.

Among those scheduled to participate in the ceremony will be USPS Chief Human Resources Officer and Executive Vice President Jeff Williamson; American Philatelic Society President Mick Zais, a retired brigadier general in the U.S. Army; and USPS Director of Stamp Services Mary-Anne Penner.

The Postal Service is offering a pictorial black first-day cancel for the new U.S. Flag stamp, featuring what appears to be crossed fireworks sparklers above a larger text element reading “U.S. Flag.”

Details for ordering the first-day cancel can be found below, along with the technical details that have been made available for most of the different stamp formats.

The U.S. flag has been a fairly constant subject on United States stamps since the 1950s, even more so as multicolor stamp printing became commonplace. However, U.S. flags appeared on stamps as early as 1869, when they framed the eagle and shield on the 30¢ stamp from that year’s Pictorial issue (Scott 121).

A definitive forever stamp featuring the American flag was similarly issued in multiple formats (but without an ATM pane) on Jan. 29, 2016; the single design showed a full view of the flag against a blue sky with clouds (Scott 5052-5055).

The USPS design team of Greg Breeding and Terry McCaffrey were responsible for both the 2016 and 2017 Flag stamps. McCaffrey retired from the Postal Service in December 2010, but worked on the design projects prior to his retirement.

When the 2016 Flag stamps were issued in five formats 12 months ago, the Postal Service announced an issue quantity totaling 4.6 billion stamps.

The print quantity for the new 2017 Flag stamps totals 7.6 billion stamps, not including the ATM stamps, for which the quantity printed has not been revealed.

That significant printing quantity increase within a single year might make one question the comment sometimes heard that “nobody uses stamps on mail anymore.” 

Nondenominated (49¢) Flag stamp, Banknote Corporation of America printing; booklet pane of 10, double-sided pane of 20

FIRST DAY— Jan. 27, 2017; city— Norcross, Ga., and nationwide.

DESIGN: photographer— Tom Grill; designer and typographer— Greg Breeding, Charlottesville, Va.; art director— Terrence W. McCaffrey; modelers— Sandra Lane and Michelle Finn.

PRINTING: process— offset with microprinting; printer and processor— Banknote Corporation of America, Browns Summit, N.C.; press— Alprinta 74; inks— cyan, magenta, yellow, black; paper— phosphor tagged, block; gum— self-adhesive; issue quantity— 100 million stamps (pane of 10); 1.75 billion stamps (double-sided pane of 20); format— pane of 10 from 560-subject cylinder; double-sided pane of 20 from 960-subject cylinder; stamp size— 0.73 inches by 0.84 inches (image); 0.87 inches by 0.98 inches (overall); pane size— 5.316 inches by 1.74 inches (pane of 10); 5.52 inches by 1.96 inches (double sided pane of 20); plate numbers— “B” followed by four single digits; marginal markings— “©2016 USPS,” plate numbers, promotional text, USPS logo, bar code (both versions); “U.S. Flag,” “10 First-Class Forever Stamps” (pane of 10); USPS item Nos.— 674704 (pane of 10); 672004 (double-sided pane of 20).

Nondenominated (49¢) Flag stamp, Ashton Potter printing, double-sided pane of 20

FIRST DAY— Jan. 27, 2017; city— Norcross, Ga., and nationwide.

DESIGN: photographer— Tom Grill; designer and typographer— Greg Breeding, Charlottesville, Va.; art director— Terrence W. McCaffrey; modeler— Joseph Sheeran.

PRINTING: process— offset with microprinting; printer and processor— Ashton Potter USA Ltd., Williamsville, N.Y.; press— Muller Martini A76; inks— cyan, magenta, yellow, black; paper— nonphosphored Type III, block tagging; gum— self-adhesive; issue quantity— 1.75 billion stamps; format— double-sided pane of 20 from 1,040-subject cylinder; size— 0.73 inches by 0.84 inches (image); 0.87 inches by 0.98 inches (overall), 5.52 inches by 1.96 inches (pane); plate numbers— “P” followed by four single digits; marginal markings— “©2016 USPS,” plate numbers, promotional text, “U.S. FLAG,” “Twenty First-class Forever Stamps”; USPS item No.— 672004.

Nondenominated (49¢) Flag stamp, Ashton Potter coil of 100

FIRST DAY— Jan. 27, 2017; city— Norcross, Ga., and nationwide.

DESIGN: photographer— Tom Grill; designer and typographer— Greg Breeding, Charlottesville, Va.; art director— Terrence W. McCaffrey; modeler— Joseph Sheeran.

PRINTING: process— offset with microprinting; printer and processor— Ashton Potter USA Ltd., Williamsville, N.Y.; press— Muller A76; inks— cyan, magenta, yellow, black; paper— nonphosphored Type III, block tagging; gum— self-adhesive; issue quantity— 2 billion stamps; format— coil of 100 from 744-subject cylinder; size— 0.73 inches by 0.84 inches (image); 0.8709 inches by 0.98 inches (overall); plate numbers— “P” followed by four single digits, appearing on every 31st stamp below stamp image; USPS item No.— 749804.

Nondenominated (49¢) Flag stamp, Banknote Corporation of America coil of 100

FIRST DAY— Jan. 27, 2017; city— Norcross, Ga., and nationwide.

DESIGN: photographer— Tom Grill; designer and typographer— Greg Breeding, Charlottesville, Va.; art director— Terrence W. McCaffrey; modelers— Sandra Lane and Michelle Finn.

PRINTING: process— offset with microprinting; printer and processor— Banknote Corporation of America, Browns Summit, N.C.; press— Alprinta 74; inks— cyan, magenta, yellow, black; paper— prephosphored, overall tagging; gum— self-adhesive; issue quantity— 2 billion stamps; format— coil of 100 from 744-subject cylinder; size— 0.73 inches by 0.84 inches (image); 0.87 inches by 0.98 inches (overall); plate numbers— “B” followed by four single digits, appearing on every 31st stamp below stamp image; USPS item No.— 749804.

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. Envelopes must be franked with at least 47¢ postage. The first-day cover envelopes should be addressed for return (a removable label may be used), and mailed in a larger envelope addressed to FDOI U.S. Flag, Stamp Fulfillment Services, Cancellation Services, 8300 NE Underground Drive, Suite 300, Kansas City, MO 64144-9900.

Requests for first-day cancels must be postmarked by March 27.

The Postal Service’s uncacheted first-day cover for the booklet of 20 Flag stamp is item No. 672016 at 93¢; for the coil of 100 Flag stamp is item No. 749816 at 93¢.