US Stamps

Last set of United States newspaper stamps a challenge to assemble

May 22, 2024, 8 AM
It is a challenge to put together a set of the last United States newspaper stamps (Scott PR114-PR125) in at least fine-very fine grade without faults. The set is in demand and is a good buy at 80 percent or more of Scott catalog value.

Stamp Market Tips by Henry Gitner and Rick Miller

Newspaper stamps were issued specifically for the prepayment of mailing rates for newspapers, periodicals, and printed matter.

U.S. newspaper stamps paid for bulk shipments of newspapers by rail, while the newspaper stamps of most other countries paid the postage for delivery of a single newspaper or other publication through the mail.

In the Scott catalogs, U.S. newspaper stamps have catalog numbers prefixed with the letters “PR.”

When first issued in 1865, U.S. newspaper stamps were affixed directly to bundles of newspapers. In 1875, the system changed, and the stamps were affixed to pages of record books maintained by the servicing post office.

All U.S. newspaper stamps are large and colorful. The designs of newspaper stamps issued from 1875 on featured allegorical or mythological figures.

The Post Office Department discontinued the use of newspaper stamps on July 1, 1898.The 1895-97 set of 12 newspaper stamps (Scott PR114-PR125) was the last to be issued.

The Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers values the set at $384.50 in unused, original gum condition and $905 in mint, never-hinged condition. The stamps are an excellent buy at 80 percent or more of Scott catalog value.

It is a real challenge to put together a set in at least fine-very fine grade without faults. If you are buying a set with original gum, avoid examples that are heavily hinged. Be on your guard against stamps with straight edges that have been reperforated.

In 1899, after the stamps had been demonetized, the Post Office Department offered complete sets to the public for $5. There weren’t enough high-denomination stamps to make up the number of sets needed, so the USPOD produced official reprints of them. Of the 50,000 sets made available to the public, about 27,000 were sold.

The May 2024 issue of the United States Specialist, published by the United States Stamp Society, has a fascinating article about these Post Office Department reprints of the higher denomination stamps, which are almost indistinguishable from the issued stamps.

This article is an example of why membership in this society is a must for all U.S. specialist collectors.

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