US Stamps

Gold and silver overprints on 1996 Cycling souvenir sheet

Apr 9, 2024, 9 AM

U.S. Stamp Notes by John M. Hotchner

A feature of the 1996 United States stamp program was the souvenir sheet (Scott 3119) issued to honor the sport of cycling. The sheet, which is pictured in Figure 1, includes two 50¢ stamps that paid the international postcard rate at that time.

While the sheet was not issued for a specific event, the issue date of Nov. 1, 1996, in New York also happened to be the start date for the Tour of China 96 cycling race that began in Hong Kong. The U.S. Postal Service had a cycling team that participated, and the sheets were available for sale in Hong Kong on Nov. 1.

The idea was that sales of the sheets would help to fund the USPS team.

The souvenir sheets were printed by Stamp Venturers in sheets of 18 (36 stamps) that were sliced into individual souvenir sheets. A total of 20 million souvenir sheets were ordered.

According to the 1996 Linn’s Stamp Yearbook by George Amick, an interesting variety of the sheet was the overprint shown at left in Figure 2.

A stamp dealer from Australia working with a Taiwanese dealer arranged to have 100,000 of the Cycling souvenir sheets overprinted in gold ink with a map (in the selvage, not on the stamps) showing the route of the Tour of China race. The overprinting was done in China.

The overprinted sheets were priced for sale at Australian $2 (about US$1.60).

The Linn’s U.S. Stamp Yearbook does not mention the silver overprint also shown in Figure 2, but it likely was from the same or a similar source.

Studying the maps on the two overprints, you will notice that they do not match up well. The typography is different, and the orientation of the map differs as well, as do the distances between the highlighted cities.

Not many of these overprinted sheets seem to have found their way to the United States as they are not abundant.

Because the overprint is private, it does not have a listing in the Scott catalog, though it does rate a footnote, and the pair of overprinted souvenir sheets is valued at $12.50 in the note.

My set was priced at $15. I am happy to have the pair in my album.

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