US Stamps

Inside Linn’s: A quest for Stellar Formations Priority Mail first-day covers

Feb 22, 2024, 8 AM
In Dollar-Sign stamps in the March 11 issue of Linn’s, Charles Snee enlists the help of a Linn’s columnist and a NASA engineer to obtain Priority Mail first-day covers for the first two high-denomination United States Stellar Formations stamps.

By Charles Snee

The March 11 issue of Linn’s Stamp News just landed on the presses and goes in the mail to subscribers Monday, Feb. 26. And if you subscribe to Linn’s digital edition, you’re at the head of the line with early access Saturday, Feb. 24. While you wait for your issue to arrive in your mailbox, enjoy these three quick glimpses of exclusive content available only to subscribers. 

A quest for Stellar Formations Priority Mail first-day covers

Charles Snee, in Dollar-Sign Stamps, recounts his quest to obtain first-day covers for the first two stamps in the United States Stellar Formations series of high-denomination Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express stamps. About 10 days before the Jan. 22 first day for $9.85 Pillars of Creation and $30.45 Cosmic Cliffs stamps, Snee connected with Linn’s Delivering the Mail columnist Allen Abel and asked if he might be able to visit the post office in Greenbelt, Md., the designated first-day city for the stamps. “He agreed to do so, but there was some uncertainty,” Snee explains. “When I called the post office on Jan. 11, I was told that it wouldn’t know if the stamps would arrive until Jan. 22, the official first day. Thankfully, the stamps arrived in time.” The FDC for the $30.45 Cosmic Cliffs Priority Mail Express stamp that Abel mailed to Snee is shown above.

Mysterious 1938 CAM 35 flight covers sent to Scottsbluff

In The Odd Lot, Wayne Youngblood begins with some practical philatelic advice. “Context is everything,” Youngblood writes. “This is one of the reasons I frequently advise collectors to keep covers and their contents together. Once separated, they might still be interesting but will likely tell only a small part of their larger story.” Thankfully, the recipient of a U.S. Postal Office Department Official penalty envelope had the foresight to keep the contents intact. One of the items in that envelope was a first-flight cover for the inaugural April 15, 1938, operation of Contract Air Mail (CAM) 35, which ran between Huron, S.D., and Cheyenne, Wyo., with a planned stop in Scottsbluff, Neb. Read the column to learn why the CAM 35 cover Youngblood illustrates was not serviced with a Scottsbluff postmark.

Tip of the Week: 1932-40 set of 40 from Inini

In their Tip of the Week, Stamp Market Tips columnists Henry Gitner and Rick Miller recommend the set of 40 stamps from Inini that were issued from 1932 to 1940. “Inini, on the northeast coast of South America, is one of the most unusual stamp-issuing entities to have ever existed,” Gitner and Miller write. The set in unused, hinged condition is valued at almost $100 in the Scott Standard catalog. Gitner and Miller note that “postally used examples are extremely scarce. Examples used on cover, particularly solo frankings, are quite valuable.”

Connect with Linn’s Stamp News: 

    Sign up for our newsletter
    Like us on Facebook
    Follow us on Twitter