US Stamps

Michael Baadke

U.S. Museum commemorative used on mail two weeks early in Arizona

October 17, 2017 02:30 PM

  • Following an advance announcement from the United States Postal Service that the forever stamp commemorating the National Museum of African American History and Culture would be issued Sept. 24, the issue date was rescheduled by the USPS to Oct. 13. The scheduling change likely contributed to this postmarked example documenting a Sept. 29 early sale of the stamp.

By Michael Baadke

It was almost unavoidable.

The United States forever stamp commemorating the National Museum of African American History and Culture was sold in an Arizona post office more than two weeks before its issue date.

Dingguo Dai, a collector and philatelic writer, submitted the example pictured here. The stamp is postmarked Sept. 29 with a magenta double-ring hand cancel from Ocotillo Station in Chandler, Ariz.

The stamp’s scheduled issue date is Oct. 13.

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A black Sept. 29 Phoenix, Ariz., spray-on machine cancel is also seen on the cover, but does not extend to tie the stamp.

The likelihood that the new stamp would be sold early grew significantly after the U.S. Postal Service announced an issue date and then postponed it.

The Postal Service announced in the Aug. 4 Postal Bulletin that the stamp would be issued Sept. 24 on the museum’s one-year anniversary.

On Aug. 30, Postal Service officials scrapped the original issue date, and on Sept. 26 it was announced that the new issue date was Oct. 13.

Postal Service employees rely on the Postal Bulletin to provide the on-sale dates for upcoming stamp issues. Although a small announcement of the date revision was published in the Sept. 14 Postal Bulletin, the story headline did not specifically alert readers that the issue date had changed.

Dai told Linn’s Stamp News that the Museum stamp was among other recent issues offered for sale at the post office, so he bought one pane. He mailed a few examples to himself, which were delivered a couple of days later. He also mailed the example pictured here, addressing it to Amos Media editorial director Donna Houseman.

This is the second 2017 U.S. issue reported to Linn’s as an early use. The previous report, in Linn’s Aug. 14 issue on page 8, showed one of the Protect Pollinators forever stamps that were officially issued Aug. 3, franking an envelope from San Francisco postmarked July 21, a little less than two weeks before the issue date.

If you think you have an early-use cover, Linn’s editors need to see the actual item to verify that it exists. Actual covers allow for better reproduction so that the stamp and cancel date can be clearly pictured.

Address items to Early Uses, Linn’s Stamp News Editorial, Box 4129, Sidney, OH 45365. Modern U.S. early-use covers have nominal value in the stamp market.