US Stamps

1971 inauguration of USPS celebrated nationwide

Jun 18, 2024, 12 PM

U.S. Stamp Notes by John M. Hotchner

July 1, 1971, saw the release of a new 8¢ stamp (Scott 1396) celebrating the conversion of the old United States Post Office Department to the semiautonomous U.S. Postal Service.

The stamp, which is shown in Figure 1, was released simultaneously at almost all of the nation’s post offices, and some collectors attempted to acquire first-day covers of the greatest possible number of locations.

I look for these FDCs as a fun collection and am able to add a few new ones each year. But imagine my surprise when I tripped over the FDC shown here in Figure 2. It is canceled June 1, 1971, 31 days ahead of the actual first day.

How was this possible? I don’t know the details of how and when the newly printed stamps and cacheted envelopes were distributed to post offices, but a whole month ahead of the issue date seems improbable.

So, is there another possible explanation? Let’s try this one: The postal clerk updating the hand canceler moved the date from 31 to 1 but neglected to change the month from June to July. That would be my guess.

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