US Stamps

Why new U.S. semipostal stamps could be on the way

May 2, 2021, 5 PM
The 2011 Save Vanishing Species semipostal stamp is the most recent new United States semipostal issued. A recent revision of the USPS semipostal stamp program will likely result in a new semipostal stamp in the near future.

By Michael Baadke

Collectors might see a new semipostal stamp in the near future, as the United States Postal Service opens its semipostal discretionary program.

In the public session of the Sept. 1 meeting of the Postal Regulatory Commission, USPS Director of Stamp Services Mary-Anne Penner spoke briefly about the status of the nation’s semipostal stamp program.

U.S. post offices currently carry both the nondenominated Breast Cancer Awareness stamp originally issued in 1998, and the nondenominated 2011 Save Vanishing Species stamp.

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Both stamps sell for 60¢ apiece, accounting for a 47¢ postage value plus a 13¢ donation to breast cancer research activities or animal conservation efforts, respectively.

“We have just opened up the semipostal discretionary program,” Penner explained, “and we’re hoping that the postmaster general will be making an announcement … soon on what the semipostal discretionary stamp will be — so stay tuned for that, it will be something good.”

A ruling revised by the Postal Service earlier this year addressed the continuing semipostal program and drew a distinction between semipostal stamps mandated by Congress and semipostal subjects chosen by the Postal Service.

“The Postal Service has discretionary authority to select causes and recipient executive agencies to receive funds raised through the sale of semipostal stamps,” the revision reads in part. ”These regulations apply only to such discretionary semipostal stamps and do not apply to semipostal stamps that are mandated by Act of Congress, such as the Breast Cancer Research stamp.”

The USPS office of the Inspector General explained in February that the Postal Service plans to sell discretionary semipostal stamps only one at a time, “but they could be sold with one or more congressionally approved semipostal stamps.”

Penner did not reveal what semipostal subjects are under consideration by the Postal Service.

In her roughly 15-minute presentation, she described the general process the Postal Service undertakes to select stamp subjects and design its stamps, with a focus on the role of the USPS Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee.