US Stamps

John M. Hotchner

When a cancel becomes a crime against stamp collecting

March 20, 2017 07:00 PM

  • Revenue protection has its place in the United States Postal Service’s operations, but this 2016 cover looks more like it was the result of a postal worker taking out his or her frustrations than a rational approach to preventing reuse of stamps.

U.S. Stamp Notes — By John M. Hotchner

I get it that the United States Postal Service needs to do what it can to assure that stamps are not reused  and that sometimes means a delivery person must take matters into his or her own hands when machines fail.

But the damage done to the stamps on the cover pictured here is a crime against stamp collecting.

The 1947 3¢ Doctors stamp (Scott 949) in the center of the cover received a spray-on cancel. The horizontal line through the other stamps was enough to invalidate them; the sine curve additions were not needed. 

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The USPS has done some work to educate its staff that collectors are important to the organization as a source of revenue — but obviously not enough. 

Thanks to Richard Rhoads of Arlington, Va., for reporting this particular outrage. I’m sure there are many more examples that match or exceed it.