Postal Updates

When pursuing pictorial postmarks goes south

Mar 12, 2024, 9 AM
A postmark collector in Michigan recently received this misstruck pictorial postmark that is over-inked and missed the stamp by a sizable amount. Instructions for replacement postmarks are provided in the column.

Philatelic Foreword by Jay Bigalke

The Linn’s editorial team recently received this email from Mary Vassolo of Michigan in regard to a requested pictorial postmark she received in the mail.

“I frequently send for the post marks that you publish in Linn’s [in the Postmark Pursuit column]. I am all too often disappointed with the post marks I receive. I am sure I am not the only one having this problem, sample attached,” she wrote. “Is there anything Linn’s or I could do to improve the quality of postmarks?”

The Postal Operations Manual, in a section about philatelic postmarks, states, “Employees should strive to furnish clear and legible postmarks to stamp collectors by ensuring that postmarking machines and hand-stamp devices are properly inked.”

Unfortunately, for those requesting a postmark, the postal clerk applying it might be using a postmarking device for the first time, and this has been an issue since day one of the postmark being offered.

While this might make more work for you, you can return the submitted item and ask for a replacement postmark. Of course, you can’t get a cacheted design replaced or maybe guarantee the same stamp use, but the post office usually makes the best effort to get it right.

In the case of the postmark shown with this column, I think striking the stamp would have been a vast improvement, as would blotting the ink a little as the postmark was over-inked in spots.

Section 254.1 of the Postal Operations Manual reads: “Requests for replacement of first day postmarks, pictorial postmarks, and standard philatelic postmarks may be accepted at the appropriate Post Office up to 60 days from the actual postmark date. All claims for nonreceipt of covers submitted for servicing by the Postal Service must be sent to the appropriate Post Office no later than 60 days from the date of postmark or from the date postmarks were last applied. Claims for replacement postmarks filed after that time will not be honored and are returned to the customer with a short explanation on why the request cannot be honored.”

Connect with Linn’s Stamp News: 

    Sign up for our newsletter
    Like us on Facebook
    Follow us on Twitter