US Stamps

New plate numbers reported on U.S. 2021 St. Nick, 2022 Sunflower Bouquet stamps

Mar 21, 2023, 12 PM

By Charles Snee

In early March, Linn’s Stamp News learned of the discovery of new plate numbers on two recent United States stamp issues.

The affected issues are the four nondenominated (58¢) A Visit From St. Nick stamps (Scott 5644-5647) issued Oct. 7, 2021, in double-sided panes of 20, and the nondenominated (70¢) Sunflower Bouquet 2-ounce rate stamp (5682) released March 24, 2022, in panes of 20.

Illustrated here is the eight-stamp side of A Visit From St. Nick double-sided pane bearing plate number P2222 at the top of the vertical selvage strip separating the two blocks of four stamps.

The P prefix is shorthand for the printer, Ashton Potter (USA) Ltd., one of the two security printers that produce stamps for the U.S. Postal Service. The four digits represent one of the four process colors used to print the stamps: black, cyan, magenta and yellow.

Plate number P1111 was used for the initial print run of the A Visit From St. Nick stamps.

Also pictured here is a pane of 20 Sunflower Bouquet stamps that shows plate number B222222 in each of the four corners.

In this case, the B stands for the Postal Service’s other stamp printer, Banknote Corporation of America, and the six digits indicate that six colors were used to print the stamps: cyan, magenta, yellow, black, Pantone Matching System 272 blue magenta and PMS 7417 red orange.

Banknote Corporation of America used plate number B111111 for the first printing of the Sunflower Bouquet stamp.

On March 5, collector Ashish Bhargava told Linn’s about the new plate numbers and provided images of the two issues, which he had purchased from a local post office in Roseville, Calif.

Bhargava said he was able to buy 16 A Visit From St. Nick panes with the new P2222 plate number.

Linn’s contacted the USPS to ascertain the cause of the plate number changes.

Jim McKean, senior public relations representative for the Postal Service, said the plates for both issues “were changed due to their respective printer making a paper substitution.”

A change in paper has been the cause of new plate numbers appearing on other U.S. stamps in recent months.

As of mid-March, panes of the Sunflower Bouquet stamp were available for purchase from the Postal Service’s online Postal Store. The A Visit From St. Nick double-sided pane is no longer listed for sale on the Postal Store website.

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