US Stamps

Americans with Disabilities envelope found watermarked

Dec 6, 2023, 10 AM
The United States 29¢ Americans with Disabilities envelope (Scott U629) has been found printed on paper with watermark 51. The envelope is shown photographed under normal lighting and with light inserted into it to reveal the watermark.

By Dan Undersander

A collector recently found a United States 29¢ Americans with Disabilities envelope (Scott U629) with watermark 51. The envelope was issued July 22, 1992, without a watermark.

A watermark is a design impressed into the paper during manufacture. It appears as shades of lightness when the paper is held to a strong light. Watermarks on postal envelopes are quite visible if a hand-held LED light is inserted into them.

The U.S. Postal Service had stopped producing stamped envelopes with watermarked paper in 1991.

The last regular-issue envelopes with watermarks were in 1991, the 11.1¢ Birds on a Wire (Scott U620) on May 3 and the 29¢ Country Geese (U624) on Nov. 8.

Watermark 51 was intended to be used only on Official mail envelopes. Its last use was intended to be on the 1991 Savings Bond envelopes (Scott UO83, UO84 and UO85) issued Jan. 22, April 6 and April 17, respectively.

The Americans with Disabilities envelope with the watermark was printed with the correct die and colors. However, a roll or partial roll of watermark 51 paper was attached to the press rather than the unwatermarked paper that was supposed to be used.

Possibly, it was the intent of the manufacturer (Westvaco Envelope Division) to use up some otherwise useless paper, because the watermarked paper could not be used for any contract printing other than for the USPS.

This is an exciting new find for postal stationery enthusiasts. It shows that even 30 years after the envelope was issued, there are still finds to be made.

If any Linn’s reader discovers additional examples, unused or used, send an email to

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