US Stamps

From three printers to two: Will this mean fewer U.S. stamps?

May 4, 2021, 4 AM

In late August, Linn’s reported that CCL Label would no longer print stamps for the United States Postal Service: “The move leaves Sennett Security Products of Browns Summit, N.C., and Ashton Potter of Williamsville, N.Y., as the only two contractors currently responsible for the printing of United States postage stamps.”

The Postal Service explained that the departure of CCL was due to a competitive request for proposals that gave the nod to Sennett Security Products and Ashton Potter.

Postal Service spokesman Mark Saunders confirmed for me that the two Forever Hearts love stamps issued Jan. 22 (Scott 4955-4956) were the last to be printed for the USPS.

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Some might argue that with only two printers, the cost to print stamps ultimately will rise due to less competition: Sennett and Ashton Potter will be in a stronger position to ask for more when their contracts come up for renewal.

Fair enough, but the good news as I see it is this: Two printers likely will mean fewer stamps each year — both in number of different issues and in the total number of stamps printed.

A decline in total stamps printed is an inevitability. With each passing year, fewer people use stamps to send mail. This trend will continue for the foreseeable future.

A reduction in the annual number of different issues printed isn’t guaranteed with just two printers cranking out stamps, but I’d wager it’s quite possible.

In fact, I hope that is exactly what happens.

Fewer new issues each year means collectors don’t have to spend as much to keep their collections complete.

Even better, fewer new stamps likely would mean fewer varieties among those stamps to pursue. Again, it would be easier to avoid blank spaces on album pages.

True, some collectors — yours truly included — like the thrill of the philatelic chase.

But, really, did we need three printers cranking out all those Fort McHenry Flag and Fireworks booklet and coil stamps?

My answer is a resounding no.

It’s still too early to tell if my second prediction will come true, but I sure hope it does.