US Stamps

Do you consider junk mail trash or treasure?

Feb 26, 2024, 10 AM

U.S. Stamp Notes by John M. Hotchner

Perhaps you don’t rely on Readers’ Digest for statistics on United States Postal Service operations, but every so often, I find a related tidbit. I tend to accumulate a year’s worth or more of the issues and read them all at once, which I realize might defeat the purpose. The result is I am always behind.

In the July-August 2021, of Readers’ Digest, I found a note saying that letter carriers bring an average of 41 pounds of junk mail to patrons each year. It also says, “You don’t open 44 percent of it, and you recycle about a quarter of it.”

As can be seen in Figure 1, some junk mail can be quite attractive and therefore quite collectible.

Some of it bears low-value coil stamps because mailers know that a stamp on the outside makes it much more likely that the mailed piece will be opened.

Plus, there is a benefit for collectors. Some of those low-value coil stamps we might not obtain for our collections any other way.

Also, it is always a good idea to watch for plate number coils on such mail, such as the example shown in Figure 2. They might be infrequent, but they do show up. If you must, soak them off for your album, but plate number coils are best left on cover as that is how the serious collectors like to get them.

The bottom line: Junk mail is a matter of definition. At least some of it isn’t junk and can be a nice addition to your collection.

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