US Stamps

Imperforate U.S. 2019 Flag coil spotted on cover from Connecticut

Aug 15, 2023, 11 AM
A Linn’s editor recently determined that the imperforate U.S. 2019 Flag coil stamp on this cover, shown cropped, is a genuine example of Scott 5343a, the Flag coil printed by Banknote Corporation of America with die cutting omitted at top and bottom.

By Charles Snee

In early August, a Linn’s Stamp News editor, while sorting through office mail, came across a letter addressed to Linn’s franked with a United States 2019 nondenominated (55¢) Flag stamp that showed no evidence of the serpentine die cuts found on normal examples of this issue, which was produced in coil and booklet formats.

The letter was mailed from East Hartford, Conn. A July 25 Hartford, Conn., sprayed-on wavy line postmark ties the stamp to the cover. The stamp and postmark are shown cropped from the No. 10 size envelope.

Closer examination of the odd stamp revealed that the left and right edges are perfectly straight and parallel, while the top and bottom edges are neither straight nor parallel.

Furthermore, the stamp has a microprinted “USPS” immediately to the right of the sixth red stripe on the flag.

These findings suggested that the odd stamp is an example of Scott 5343, the 2019 Flag coil stamp printed by Banknote Corporation of America.

A check of the Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers shows a listing for an imperforate (die cutting omitted) error of that stamp (Scott 5343a), which was listed for the first time in the 2021 edition.

However, the Linn’s editor still wasn’t convinced because the letter was franked with a single, not a pair. Genuine imperforate errors are listed as pairs because single examples are easily fabricated by trimming off the perforations.

In this case, that would mean cutting away the serpentine die cuts at top and bottom.

For added confirmation, the editor contacted the person who sent the letter to determine if he had multiples (strips or rolls) of Scott 5343 that were missing the die cuts at top and bottom.

As it turned out, the sender was an experienced stamp dealer, Matthew Betton of East Hartford, Conn. Betton told Linn’s that he purchased eight imperforate rolls of 100 from the post office in nearby Glastonbury, Conn., at the beginning of this year.

Betton, who has been a dealer for 30 years, said he was using stamps from one of the error rolls on his outgoing mail. He confirmed that the stamp on the letter he mailed to Linn’s in late July came from that roll.

As for the other seven error rolls, Benton said that he was keeping them intact for now.

After Betton bought the eight imperforate rolls, he contacted Mark Eastzer of Markest Stamp Co. in Lynbrook, N.Y., who told him that this particular error was common.

The listing for Scott 5343a in the Scott U.S. Specialized catalog shows dashes in both the unused and used columns, which means the Scott editors do not have enough market data to establish a value.

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