USPS changes minimum order for pane stamps
Philatelic Foreword by Jay Bigalke
Collecting single stamps of recent United States stamp issues just became slightly more difficult. Starting in June, the U.S. Postal Service center only sells full-pane formats for nearly all of its stamp issues through its Stamp Fulfillment Services.
Most noticeable for collectors are panes that have one stamp design and roulette die cuts on the reverse that allow single stamps to be sold at post offices. For example, the recent George H.W. Bush and USS Missouri forever stamps, both in panes of 20, will have to be purchased in a full pane of 20 if ordered from the USPS website, eBay store or by phone at 800-STAMP-24 (800-782-6724).
Also, the USPS online store and the most recent issue of the USA Philatelic catalog have no blocks or singles offered for stamps, with the exceptions of the $7.35 Priority Mail and $25.50 Priority Mail Express stamps.
I asked the Postal Service for comment and received this reply from USPS spokesman Roy Betts:
“Beginning in June 2019, the USA Philatelic publication will only list full panes, and also on The Postal Store www.usps.com/shop. For issues that are sold in less than full format, customers still have the option of placing a Custom Order by mail or phone. The Custom Order $2.25 handling fee will be assessed.
“Stamp Fulfillment Services (SFS) does offer a Standing Order Program. Members may enroll to receive automatic shipments of Full Panes, Blocks of 10 and/or Blocks of 4 stamps. Customers may contact SFS for more information regarding this subscription program.”
I do understand why the change was made. It is likely that most purchases are for full panes anyway. It is also labor-intensive to break up panes and package them in smaller quantities.
For the stamps with roulettes on the reverse, collectors can still go to a local post office that has them in stock and purchase single stamps. Other options include the secondary market or trading with members of a local stamp club. These options could ultimately be cheaper when factoring in the extra cost of shipping that the Postal Service charges on orders and the possibility of getting stuck with duplicates.
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