US Stamps

Reporting on Postal Service stamp product information

Jul 9, 2018, 6 AM
A first-day cover with digital color postmark for the $5 Statue of Freedom stamp issued June 27. The item number, price and the cover's existence were not revealed until the issue date.

Philatelic Foreword by Jay Bigalke

The coverage of new United States stamp issues is a staple of the pages of Linn's Stamp News. But in recent weeks we've had to change the way we report on some of the items the U.S. Postal Service describes as stamp products.

The Postal Service is now withholding information about these products until the issue date for the associated stamp. This includes first-day covers, digital color FDCs, press sheets and other items created for that stamp issue.

While it might be safe for Linn's to report that a first-day cover is likely to be offered, we're in the business of accurately reporting, not guessing, and that affects the information we can provide while we are working on a story about a stamp or stamps approximately a month prior to the date of issue.

As a result, we have had to shift how we report item numbers for these products and how collectors can order these products from the U.S. Postal Service.

We will not publish separate articles about these additional products unless there is some unusual newsworthy aspect to the product.

Instead, the Linn's United States Stamp Program listing in each issue will be the de facto source of USPS item numbers and prices for these products, as soon as the information is revealed by the Postal Service.

The USPS Postal Bulletin previously listed item numbers and prices for products associated with each stamp issue, but discontinued providing that information earlier this year.

What remains is a reference to the USA Philatelic catalog, but that quarterly publication largely features stamps and postal stationery already issued and rarely includes advance information.

Postal Bulletin details on recent new issues, starting with the May 10 issue, read, "Locally produced items are not authorized. Only merchandise that has been approved and assigned an item number by Headquarters Retail Marketing may be produced and sold."

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But if the Bulletin provides no item numbers to identify the authorized products for USPS employees, how helpful is that?

Despite these changes, Linn's will continue to provide new-issue details from the Postal Service and other sources in the most timely manner possible.

How to collect it 

I recently purchased Scott album pages for my 2017 U.S. stamp collection. While going through my piles of stamps and mounts, I wondered if there was a way I could keep up with it throughout the year instead of doing it all at once. This thought led me to a new addition to the Linn's U.S. Stamp Program page titled "How to collect it."

In "How to collect it," we will show how stamp albums are likely to recommend the collector mount the stamp, provide the Scott mount number for it, and include a helpful tip on one way to save that stamp issue.

The first stamp we're highlighting is the Year of the Dog stamp issued Jan. 11. We provide tips on how to easily remove a stamp from this format. We will address the stamps in Scott catalog order, an important detail for many collectors.

This feature will be included in the weekly published editions of Linn's as an exclusive benefit for weekly subscribers.

If you purchase album page supplements, this information should help you avoid missing a stamp issue, or saving it in a different format than what will be shown on the page.