By Michael Baadke
The History of Hockey forever stamps were issued by the United States Postal Service Oct. 20 as a joint issue with Canada.
The U.S. stamps come in two formats: a pane of 20 (10 each of the two designs) and a souvenir sheet of two (one each of the two designs).
If you find one of these stamps on your mail, you should be able to tell which format it came from just by examining the stamp’s surface.
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The stamps from the pane of 20 have an overall high-gloss finish with a very shiny appearance when viewed under an angled normal light source.
The souvenir sheet selvage has a similar shiny effect, but its two stamps appear to be overprinted with a finely textured coating, possibly an application of luminescent block tagging that gives the souvenir sheet stamps a rather matte finish that is hardly shiny at all.
A Postal Service representative told Linn’s Stamp News that the difference in appearance is the result of less gloss being applied to the souvenir sheet stamps.
The first photograph on this page shows the two varieties photographed together under a sharply angled normal light, with stamps from the pane of 20 at top, and part of the souvenir sheet below.
The second photo shows both varieties under shortwave ultraviolet light, revealing little discernible difference between the two types. Under longwave UV light the stamps do not glow, but the souvenir sheet stamps appear just a little darker than the stamps from the pane of 20.
Technical details provided by the U.S. Postal Service describe both varieties as printed on nonphosphored Type III paper with block tagging.
Other characteristics of the two varieties, including design details, sizes and die cut measurements, appear to be identical or nearly so.
Linn’s editors did not find microprinting on either variety of the History of Hockey stamps, and none was indicated in the Postal Service’s technical details.
The stamps were all printed and processed by USPS contractor Ashton Potter in Williamsville, N.Y.