US Stamps

Look for U.S. 1947 airmail dry printing set of three

Jan 22, 2020, 3 PM
The United States mint pane of 50 dry printing 25¢ blue San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and Boeing B377 Stratocruiser stamps (Scott C36) is in strong demand and a great buy in the $50-to-$75 price range.

Stamp Market Tips by Henry Gitner and Rick Miller

In 1947 the U.S. Post Office Department issued a set of three airmail stamps showing planes carrying airmail above various landmarks: a Martin 2-0-2 and the Pan American Union Building in Washington, D.C., on the 10¢ black stamp (Scott C34); a Lockheed Constellation with the Statue of Liberty and New York skyline on a 15¢ bright blue green stamp (C35); and a Boeing B377 Stratocruiser and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge on the 25¢ blue stamp (C36).

Well after the production and issuance of the original 1947 stamps, new printings were produced by the dry sheet method (Scott C34a, C35b and C36a).

The 2020 Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers said of wet and dry printings: “In 1953, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing began experiments in printing on ‘dry paper’ (moisture content 5-10 per cent). In previous ‘wet’ printings, the paper had a moisture content of 15-35 per cent.

“The new process required a thicker, stiffer paper, special types of inks and greater pressure to force the paper into the recessed plates. The ‘dry’ printings show whiter paper, a higher sheen on the surface, feel thicker and stiffer, and the designs stand out more clearly than on the ‘wet’ printings.”

The airmail stamps produced by the dry printing method are fairly common as single mint stamps and even as plate number blocks.

With some comparison and experience, the differences in thicker paper, brighter appearance and gum color make them easy to tell apart from the earlier wet printing stamps.

Full mint panes of 50 of the dry printing issues are much less common and can be identified by the much later plate numbers which begin with “265.”

In particular, mint panes of 50 of the dry printing 25¢ blue airmail stamp (Scott C36a) are in great demand and in very short supply. The Scott U.S. Specialized catalog values a mint never-hinged single at $1.20. The mint pane of 50 is a great buy in the $50-to-$75 price range.

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