The United States Postal Service is issuing a new variety of the Ferns forever stamps in coils on March 27.
The five stamps each show photographs by Cindy Dyer of different fern types: autumn fern, Goldie’s wood fern, soft shield fern, Fortune’s holly fern and painted fern.
The USPS publicity image pictured here shows the stamps directly adjacent to one another, but it is expected that the actual stamps will be issued with spaces between them to facilitate their use in stamp-affixing machinery.
The five Ferns designs were first issued Jan. 27, 2014, as denominated 49¢ coil stamps gravure-printed by CCL Label (Scott 4848-4852). The stamps were sold in coil rolls of 3,000 and 10,000.
A nondenominated variety of the same design was issued March 6, 2014, with the forever designation replacing the printed 49¢ denomination (Scott 4874-4878). Those forever stamps were also gravure-printed by CCL Label, but were issued in coils of 10,000 only.
The new variety for 2015 is also a forever coil, in rolls of 3,000 and 10,000, but offset-printed instead of gravure, and printed by Banknote Corp. of America instead of CCL Label.
The printing differences alone should help collectors distinguish the new stamps from the 2014 variety when looking for postally used examples. In addition, the new stamps will have microprinting on each stamp, unlike the earlier issue.
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The plate number singles will also differ, with the new coils showing a plate number every 25th stamp that begins with the letter S (representing Sennett Security Products, the contract printer).
On the 2014 forever stamps, the plate number, beginning with the letter C, appeared on every 30th stamp.
These new definitive stamps are being issued with no ceremony. First-day covers will be postmarked Kansas City, Mo., which is home to the Postal Service’s Stamp Fulfillment Services division.
Although the stamps in the new rolls of 3,000 and 10,000 are unlikely to be different from one another, the Postal Service is offering two options for collectors who would like to purchase a strip of 25 stamps rather than an entire roll.
A strip of 25 Ferns stamps from the coil roll of 3,000 is available for $12.25 as item No. 786703. For the same price, a strip of 25 stamps from the coil roll of 10,000 is item No. 777335.
Two sets of five first-day covers with black First Day of Issue postmarks are also being offered, one set for each of the two coil sizes.
Technical details and first-day cancel ordering information for the new Ferns forever coil stamps are as follows:
Nondenominated (49¢) Ferns forever stamps coils of 3,000 and 10,000
FIRST DAY— March 27, 2015; city— Kansas City, Mo., and nationwide.
DESIGN: existing photographs— Cindy Dyer; designer, art director, and typographer— Phil Jordan, Falls Church, Va.; modeler— Donald Woo.
PRINTING: process— offset with microprinting; printer and processor— Banknote Corp. of America, Browns Summit, N.C., for Sennett Security Products; press— Alprinta 74; inks— cyan, magenta, yellow, black; paper— overall phosphor tagged; gum— self-adhesive; issue quantities— 45 million stamps (15,000 coils), coil of 3,000; 100 million stamps (10,000 coils), coil of 10,000; formats— coil rolls of 3,000 and 10,000, from 250-subject cylinders; size— 0.73 inches by 0.84 inches (image); 0.87 inches by 0.98 inches (overall); plate numbers— “S” followed by four single digits every 25th stamp; USPS item No.— 786704 (coil of 3,000), 777304 (coil of 10,000).
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. The first-day cover envelopes should be addressed for return (a removable label may be used), and mailed in a larger envelope addressed to Ferns Stamps (3k and 10k PSA Coils), Cancellation Services, 8300 N.E. Underground Drive, Pillar 210, Kansas City, MO 64144-0001. Requests for first-day cancels must be postmarked by May 26.
The Postal Service’s uncacheted set of five first-day covers for the Ferns stamps is item No. 786716 at $4.65 for the coil of 3,000, and 777317 at $4.65 for the coil of 10,000. USPS order numbers for stamps and FDCs also appear in Linn’s 2015 U.S. Stamp Program.