Tip of the Week — By Henry Gitner and Rick Miller
While the market for United States regular postage stamps remains generally quiet, many collectors are actively working on their back-of-the-book collections.
Official stamps are stamps reserved for use by government agencies on official correspondence. The United States first issued Official stamps in 1873 for cabinet departments of the executive branch of government. These stamps were replaced by penalty franks in 1884.
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In 1910, the Post Office Department introduced Official stamps for use on correspondence required for administration of the postal savings system. These were discontinued in 1914.
Official stamps returned in 1983 with a series of stamps with a design incorporating the Great Seal of the United States (Scott O127-O163).
On March 8, 2006, a 39¢ Great Seal of the United States Official mail stamp (Scott O160) was issued. The horizontal coil stamp produced by photogravure is perforated gauge 10 vertically. The 2018 Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers values the stamp in mint never-hinged condition at 80¢. This stamp was only good for payment in full of the first-class letter rate for less than a year, after which the 41¢ rate went in to effect.
Some dealers are paying more than face value for the stamp, and it is well worth paying up to $1 if you need it for your collection.