New U.S. Flag stamps coming Jan. 27
By Michael Baadke
The United States Postal Service has planned a number of new stamp issues to coincide with its upcoming postage rate changes.
A new nondenominated (55¢) U.S. Flag forever stamp design was revealed in December 2018 and will be issued in four announced varieties on Sunday, Jan. 27, the day the new rates take effect.
The first-class domestic letter rate is increasing from 50¢ to 55¢.
The stamps will be offered in two different double-sided panes of 20 (a format that the Postal Service describes as a booklet), and in two different coil rolls of 100 stamps. The Postal Service’s current two contract printers, Ashton Potter and Banknote Corporation of America, each printed one of the double-sided panes and one coil variety.
No first-day ceremony is planned for the U.S. Flag issue. Instead, the Postal Service has announced that Kansas City, Mo., has been designated as the official first-day city for the purposes of postmarking first-day covers.
“With this new 2019 stamp, the Postal Service celebrates the American flag, the most recognizable symbol of our nation,” the USPS stated in its Dec. 19 announcement.
“The stamp features a U.S. flag, one of several on the flagpoles near the end of Chicago’s Navy Pier, waving in a May breeze.”
The photograph of the flag was taken by USPS art director Antonio Alcala, who also designed the stamp.
The stamp is formatted horizontally, with the top and bottom edges wider than the height of the stamp at left and right. This is unusual for a U.S. coil stamp and is likely to result in a vertical coil, where the wavy line die cuts on each stamp are at the top and bottom of the stamp, with straight edges at left and right.
The last U.S. definitive stamp issue in a vertical coil was the 2006 39¢ Crops of the America issue in five designs (Scott 4003-4007).
According to technical details published by the Postal Service, the plate numbers on the new Flag coil stamps will appear on every 31st stamp positioned “beside the stamp image,” which seems to be a further indication that the coil itself will be vertical.
Although all of the stamps share the same design, the size and placement of the microprinting on the stamps will likely aid in identification.
The Postal Service has published only one item number for the two coils and another item number for the two double-sided panes at this time.
It is likely that specific USPS item numbers for the four different products will be assigned close to the actual issue date, for collectors who prefer to order and identify the individual varieties in mint stamps.
This information will be published in Linn’s 2019 U.S. Stamp Program when it becomes available.
Collectors can also inquire at local post offices after the stamps are issued Jan. 27.
The stamps on the intact double-sided pane of 20 can be distinguished by the multicolor plate number printed on a thin strip separating two blocks of stamps. Stamps printed by Ashton Potter will show a plate number beginning with the letter P followed by four digits. The plate number on the pane from Banknote Corp. will begin with the letter B followed by four digits.
Coils of 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.
The stamp scene showing a fluttering U.S. Flag against a blue sky with clouds is a familiar one. Similar U.S. stamps have been issued in the past, including the 1988 25¢ Flag definitive issued in panes of 100 (Scott 2278) and traditional booklets of 12 stamps (2285A), and the 2016 nondenominated (49¢) Flag stamps issued in coils and double-sided panes (5052-5055).
The Postal Service has not announced information about USPS-prepared FDCs for the new stamps, though it is likely that one or more FDCs with black cancels will be offered.
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