US Stamps

Partially missing colors illuminate 1999 33¢ Deer stamp production

Feb 9, 2023, 8 AM

U.S. Stamp Notes by John M. Hotchner

The Deer issue of 1999 (Scott 3356-3367) was colorful and complicated.

This Christmas issue included four 33¢ stamps, each showing a deer in gold on a different color. The Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers lists these colors as red, blue, purple and green.

The basic color printed first was gold. On top of it were printed purple, green, a pinkish red and light blue.

The gold background, which can be seen in the single in Figure 1 with only a bit of red in the lower left corner, has two tones of gold: dark for the deer and a lighter shade for the areas that are under one of the four other colors.

Take a close look at the booklet pane of 20 in Figure 2. There are two things to notice. First is that the gold is missing in the lower left corner, but none of the three stamps affected is completely missing the gold.

This flaw was caused by stray paper of some sort that overlaid on a diagonal the area where the gold is now missing. Because the stray paper was there when the gold ink was printed, it got the gold image. However, the stray paper would have eventually been separated and destroyed as waste.

The second thing to notice is that the colors printed over the gold are flat and much lighter in the areas missing the gold than on the finished product. Thus, it is the background gold that enables the four colors to show as deep, rich colors.

The 33¢ red in the lower left corner of the Figure 2 booklet is as close to a missing color as exists on this issue. The stamp is shown enlarged in Figure 3; note that there is just a touch of the gold frame in the upper right corner of that stamp.

The Scott U.S. Specialized catalog lists no fully missing colors for this issue.

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