New U.S. Flag definitive stamps debut April 10 in Freedom, Maine
By Charles Snee
On April 10, the United States Postal Service will issue new Flag definitive (regular-issue) stamps in Freedom, Maine, without an official first-day ceremony.
The design of the nondenominated (63¢) Freedom U.S. Flag stamps was first revealed in October 2022 and will be issued in seven varieties, according to technical details published in the March 9 issue of the Postal Bulletin.
The stamps will be offered in a pane of 20, two different double-sided panes of 20 (a format that the Postal Service refers to as a booklet), two different rolls of 100 coil stamps, and in rolls of 3,000 and 10,000 coil stamps.
Ashton Potter (USA) Ltd. and Banknote Corporation of America, the Postal Service’s current contract printers, each printed one of the double-sided panes and one roll of 100 format.
Across all seven formats, the two printers produced a total of 4.74 billion stamps. Print quantities range from a low of 15 million stamps produced in coil rolls of 3,000 to a high of 1.35 billion stamps for each of the coil stamps in rolls of 100.
All the new stamps were printed using offset lithography and contain microprinting somewhere in the design.
The stamps on the intact double-sided pane of 20 can be distinguished by the multicolor plate number printed on a narrow selvage strip separating the two blocks of four on the eight-stamp side of the pane.
Stamps printed by Ashton Potter will show a plate number beginning with the letter P followed by three digits. The plate number on the stamps from Banknote Corp. will begin with the letter B followed by three digits.
Rolls of coil stamps are usually wrapped with a leader strip that might identify the printer as either APU or BCA. Plate numbers on the coil stamps from the two printers will show the same letter-number combinations as the double-sided panes.
According to the Postal Service, plate numbers on the new Freedom U.S. Flag coil stamps will appear on every 31st stamp in coils of 100 and every 27th stamp in coils of 3,000 and 10,000.
It is likely that six Scott catalog numbers will be assigned to the Freedom U.S. Flag stamps: one for the stamp from a pane of 20, one each for the stamps in the two double-sided panes of 20, one each for the coil stamps in the two rolls of 100, and one for the coil stamps in rolls of 3,000 and 10,000.
A final listing determination will be made after the Scott editors have examined the actual stamps.
Postal Service art director Antonio Alcala designed the Freedom U.S. Flag stamps using existing artwork by Hong Li.
“With the issuance of the 2023 U.S. Flag stamp, the Postal Service continues its long tradition of honoring the American flag,” the USPS said in the March 9 Postal Bulletin.
“The stamp art bears a straightforward graphic design of the red, white, and blue. Providing a solid foundation for the flag are the words ‘FREEDOM’ in gray and, below it, ‘FOREVER / USA.’ ”
The U.S. flag, along with the subjects of Christmas, Benjamin Franklin, love, George Washington and others, is represented on dozens of U.S. stamps.
As a design element, the U.S. flag first appeared on the 1869 30¢ Pictorial stamp (Scott 121).
Other early stamps that picture our nation’s flag somewhere in the design include ...
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