US Stamps

Quartet of bridges to grace U.S. coil stamps Aug. 24

Aug 7, 2023, 11 AM

By Charles Snee

On Aug. 24, the United States Postal Service will issue four new coil stamps picturing bridges. The stamps are intended for use on presorted first-class mail.

Portland, Conn., the location of one of the bridges featured on the stamps, will serve as the first-day city.

The nondenominated (25¢) stamps depict the Arrigoni Bridge connecting Middletown, Conn., with Portland; the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge between Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Omaha, Neb.; the Skydance Bridge in Oklahoma City, Okla.; and the Iowa-Illinois Memorial Bridge linking Bettendorf, Iowa, and Moline, Ill.

Postal Service spokesman Jim McKean told Linn’s Stamp News that a USPS-sponsored first-day ceremony is not planned.

However, the Connecticut Cover Club (a chapter of the American First Day Cover Society), in partnership with the Portland Historical Society, is sponsoring a local first-day ceremony for the Bridges coil stamps that will be held Aug. 24 at 11 a.m. in the Mary Lou Rice Room of the Town of Portland Senior Center, 7 Waverly Ave., in Portland.

The club’s ceremony will highlight the Arrigoni Bridge stamp. Veteran FDC specialist and AFDCS executive committee member Foster Miller will serve as master of ceremonies.

Additional details are provided in an article by Miller in the first quarter 2023 issue of the Ceremonial, the official journal of the American Ceremony Program Society.

“The ceremony is open to the public at no charge, and attendees will receive a ceremony program,” Miller said. “Local historians will trace the history of the Arrigoni Bridge from its opening in 1938 and describe its impact on the surrounding area.”

AFDCS member Brian Magee told Linn’s Stamp News that strips of 25 Bridges coil stamps will be available for $6.25 (total face value) from the Portland post office. The strips will be sold at random, meaning some will have a Bridges coil with a plate number while others will not.

A four-bar “FIRST DAY OF ISSUE” postmark will be available for collectors who wish to have covers postmarked on the Aug. 24 first day, according to Magee.

“Cancels will be provided only as hand-back service over the counter,” Magee said.

Ashton Potter (USA) Ltd., one of the Postal Service’s two contract printers, printed the Bridges coil stamps in rolls of 3,000 and 10,000. The print quantities are 20.1 million stamps (6,700 rolls of 3,000) and 600 million stamps (60,000 rolls of 10,000).

The stamps are horizontal in format, meaning they will have vertical serpentine die cuts at left and right and straight edges at top and bottom.

Plate numbers consisting of the letter “P” followed by four single digits will appear in the bottom margin on every 27th stamp in a roll of 3,000 or 10,000. The “P” is shorthand for Ashton Potter, and each digit represents one of the four colors used to print the stamps: cyan, magenta, yellow and black.

Finished rolls of Bridges coils will have gaps between the stamps to facilitate their placement on large numbers of envelopes using automated processing equipment.

The stamps may be ordered from Stamp Fulfillment Services in Kansas City, Mo. As a service to collectors, Stamp Fulfillment Services will offer both formats of the Bridges coil stamps in strips of 500 and strips of 25 with plate number. The item numbers for these smaller multiples are listed in Linn’s 2023 U.S. stamp program on page 24 of this issue.

The “PRESORTED FIRST-CLASS” inscription in the bottom margin of each stamp indicates that a permit is required to use them on mail. The stamps are intended for use on bulk mailings by authorized nonprofit organizations.

Collectors can use these and other service-inscribed stamps on regular mail by completing USPS Form 3615, Mailing Permit Application and Customer Profile. When filling out the form, be sure to check the box labeled “Precanceled Stamp Authorization.”

The completed form must be submitted at your local post office. Mail franked with service-inscribed stamps must be presented at the counter for postmarking and processing.

Presorted first-class stamps are used on large quantities of business letter mail (often advertising mail) prepared and sorted for mailing by a sender holding an applicable permit. The presorted mail is then eligible for sending at various reduced postage rates. The term bulk mail also has been used to describe this type of mailing.

According to the Domestic Mail Manual, all presorted first-class letters must meet the basic content standards for regular first-class mail, weigh less than or equal to 3.5 ounces, be part of a single mailing of at least 500 pieces of presorted first-class mail, and have a delivery address with the correct ZIP code or ZIP+4 code.

Postal Service art director Ethel Kessler designed the Bridges coil stamps using existing photographs by Kyle Henderson, Christina Wood, Joe Gowac and MILLER + MILLER Photography.

Kessler told Linn’s that bridges hold a strong attraction for her.

“Some subjects are in the back of my mind all the time … until one day, I see an image that jumps out at me,” she said. “That’s the case with these stamps. Bridges are so beautiful and graphic.”

“Once I started looking for a group to bring forward, I found lots of information on ‘the 10 most famous bridges in the US,’ ‘29 striking American Bridges,’ or ‘10 Most Beautiful Bridges around the country,’ ” Kessler recalled.

“These would be ‘mail use stamps’ to fulfill a specific purpose in the mailing industry,” she said. “They need to be definitive in size, but still pack a punch. The selections in this case were less about who the photographer was and more about location and type of construction.”

During her research, Kessler zeroed in on form and function to select the four bridges that appear on the stamps.

“Not only are these bridges of various materials and functions they are also stunning,” Kessler said. “And I found so many additional bridge images that we’d be able to do several more groupings!”

In response to Kessler’s comment about the possibility of future issues picturing bridges, USPS senior public relations representative Martha Johnson said, …

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