US Stamps

Charles Snee

Used dollar-sign eye candy lurking in a stock book

June 13, 2018 05:30 PM

  • A socked-on-the-nose circular datestamp of Snow Camp, N.C., adds great eye appeal to this used $4.60 Air Force One Priority Mail stamp.
  • Telltale perforations at the left and right sides of this used $3 Mars Pathfinder souvenir sheet indicate it came from the middle column of an uncut press sheet of 18.
  • This intact 1998 $1 Western Cattle in Storm souvenir sheet, still affixed to part of a United States Postal Service mailing envelope, was used Dec. 31, 1998, just six months after it was issued.

Dollar-Sign Stamps — By Charles Snee

For the better part of two decades, I have focused on collecting covers.

I consider myself 90 percent postal historian, 10 percent stamp collector. This means my default setting is to keep a cover intact.

Nonetheless, I am not immune to the allure of an attractive stamp that has been separated from its envelope. If such stamps are encountered on piece, I typically soak them off and put them in the lone stock book nestled among the albums in my stamp den.

Among the neat rows of plate-number coil singles and other assorted stamps are a handful of United States dollar-denominated stamps salvaged from damaged covers and other sources.

Shown first is a 2007 $4.60 Air Force One stamp (Scott 4144), which at the time of issue paid the domestic Priority Mail flat rate.

This one caught my eye because of the bold, socked-on-the-nose Jan. 16, 2008, circular datestamp from Snow Camp, N.C. As an added bonus, the stamp was used just seven months after it was issued.

When I plucked this stamp from my stock book, I immediately recalled the stamp’s postal source: stamp dealer Jay Smith, who operates out of Snow Camp and takes great care to ensure the stamps on his mailings receive clear, neatly applied postmarks.

Next up is an on-piece 1997 $3 Mars Pathfinder souvenir sheet used March 1, 2002, from Sidney, Ohio, home to Linn’s Stamp News.

What makes this item special? Take a closer look at the left and right sides of the souvenir sheet — they are perforated. This indicates the souvenir sheet came from an uncut press sheet of 18.

Mars Pathfinder souvenir sheets processed for individual sale (Scott 3178) have straight edges on all four sides. Those from press sheets (3178b) have perforations at right only (if they originated from the left column of six souvenir sheets), at left and right (as shown, from the middle column), and at left only (from the right column).

Used press sheet examples of the $3 Mars Pathfinder are infrequently encountered, as indicated by the dash in the used column in the Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers.

Among my favorite issues is the 1998 reprise of the iconic Trans-Mississippi stamps of 1898. Two souvenir sheets were issued.

One contains nine stamps in se-tenant (side-by-side) format (Scott 3209) with denominations from 1¢ to $2 that parallel those of the 1898 originals.

For the second sheet (Scott 3210), the U.S. Postal Service opted for nine of the $1 Western Cattle in Storm stamp.

The Scott U.S. Specialized catalog values Scott 3209 at $7 used; the catalog does not provide a value for Scott 3210 used.

In all my years of searching, I’ve found just one in-period used example of the 1998 $1 Western Cattle in Storm sheet.

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This sheet, on piece as shown, was once affixed to the back of a USPS mailing envelope. It bears six Dec. 31, 1998, postmarks from Elmwood Station, Berkeley, Calif., which means it was used a scant six months after its June 18 issue date.

If you’re keeping count, only the stamp at top left bears a complete “1998” year date, conclusively showing it was used the year it was issued. This is why I intend to keep this sheet intact.

I welcome your stories about dollar-denominated U.S. postage stamps and postal history. Write to Dollar-Sign Stamps, Box 4129, Sidney, OH 45365-4129; or email me.