US Stamps

How will collectors view the return of press sheets without die cuts?

Jan 11, 2021, 11 AM
The no-die-cut press sheet of the United States 2014 21¢ Abraham Lincoln stamp.

Philatelic Foreword by Jay Bigalke

No-die-cut press sheets are making a return for United States commemoratives according to the page 1 story in this issue. Some collectors will welcome that news, while others may dread it because they will feel the urge to have to add that stamp variety to their collections.

The no-die-cut press sheets were indeed popular with collectors when they were offered from 2012-16, but limited quantities and sellouts before the issue dates caused collectors to criticize the program.

In my view, what ultimately killed off the product was the limited quantities produced. There has to be a balance between supply and demand, and hopefully the U.S. Postal Service will look at historical sales data to see what collector demand might be. While over-producing an issue by 1,000 press sheets might seem like a lot, in reality it is very little paper.

The shipping of press sheets presents a logistical challenge, and I would guess that adds to the expense of offering them.

While I was on a tour of Stamp Fulfillment Services in Kansas City several years ago, I saw stacks of boxes of press sheets in the vault and a bunch of tubes ready for future orders. It’s a labor-intensive product to ship, but clearly the math worked out in the end for the USPS to offer these again.

Press sheets in general, even those with normal die cuts, continue to remain popular to the dedicated few. In 2020 many press sheets for commemorative stamps sold out fairly quickly after they were issued. But I suspect they were produced in quantities to meet the demand of standing-order customers with a few extra produced as well.

Questions remain on how the new no-die-cut press sheets will be offered, but I anticipate answers will be coming soon. The first commemorative stamp issues of the year start very soon.

On a personal note, I did purchase a number of the no-die-cut press sheets when they were offered from July 2012 through February 2016. I enjoyed cutting them up, creating first-day covers, using them on mail to other stamp collectors, and adding certain ones to my collection for issues that I had an extra interest in.

These sheets also gave collectors that participate in local stamp clubs an opportunity to collaborate on trading excess stamps from a sheet. Some clubs even used the stamps to mail their newsletters. I would anticipate this activity to resume.

While there may be positives and negatives to the press sheets program, I think it is great for collectors to have something new to talk about and add to their collections.

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