US Stamps

Inside Linn’s: The highly unlikely Braille U.S. postage stamps

Oct 29, 2021, 8 AM
Printer Avery Dennison created this pane of 20 braille stamps as prototypes in 2007 to demonstrate what it could create for the United States Postal Service. Joe Brockert fills in the details in Philatelic Backstory in the Nov. 15 issue of Linn’s Stamp News.

By Charles Snee

The Nov. 15 monthly issue of Linn’s Stamp News just landed on the presses and goes in the mail to subscribers Monday, Nov. 1. And if you subscribe to Linn’s digital edition, you’re at the head of the line with early access Saturday, Oct. 30. While you wait for your issue to arrive in your mailbox, enjoy these three quick glimpses of exclusive content available only to subscribers.

The highly unlikely Braille U.S. postage stamps

In Philatelic Backstory, Joe Brockert tells the fascinating story of the United States Postal Service’s flirtation with developing and issuing braille postage stamps. Printer Avery Dennison created the pane of 20 braille stamps shown here. Brockert makes it clear “that these stamps were never authorized or sanctioned by the Postal Service. They really can’t be classified as proofs, essays or even test stamps, although they were developed to test the feasibility of braille on stamps.” Brockert explains how Avery Dennison incorporated braille elements into the design, including identification of each stamp’s position in the pane. He discusses how Postal Service interactions with various commercial printers demonstrated the feasibility of braille stamps. One such discussion focused on a Harley Davidson cigarette package wrapper. Brockert explains why in this fascinating account that is well worth your time.

U.S. graded stamp report: 2021 third quarter

Each quarter the Scott catalog editors carefully review how the philatelic marketplace affects a chosen group of 19th- and 20th-century stamps. As Jim Kloetzel explains in his Scott U.S. Graded Stamp Report, “The third quarter of 2021 was a bit dull for collectors of graded United States stamps who shop the available auctions.” Enough graded material was auctioned to provide a good overview of the market, but there were no auctions “that were devoted exclusively or predominantly to highly graded material,” Kloetzel writes. Overall 26 value increases were made in the portfolio of stamps that Scott tracks. “Interestingly, most of these value increases are for stamps in the grades of fine-very fine-85 to extremely fine-superb-95,” Kloetzel says. Be sure to read the entire report to learn why one 20th-century stamp in the portfolio was replaced with another one.

U.S. insured mail treated as registered mail, 1915-35

In Spotlight on Philately, Ken Lawrence closely examines postal regulations that governed the treatment of insured mail as registered mail. As can be seen from the items Lawrence illustrates, most of the associated postal history consists of Federal Reserve bank tags that were franked with stamps and attached to parcels of money sent from one bank to another. As Lawrence explains, such parcels were sent at the fourth-class parcel post rate, which required much less postage than first-class mail. However, such mailings were handled using all the security features of registered mail. Lawrence illustrates a number of bank tags and provides rate breakdowns for the affixed postage, which was determined based on the weight of the associated parcel and the postal zone of the destination to which the package was mailed.

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