US Stamps

USPS embraces fancy printing techniques, receives positive press

Apr 28, 2021, 9 AM

Philatelic Foreword — By Jay Bigalke

There is a vast number of innovative printing techniques available for the United States Postal Service to use, and it seems like it is going down the list and incorporating them into stamps.

Last year’s Sports Balls and Total Solar Eclipse of the Sun commemorative forever stamps kicked off the latest round of gimmicks, as one might describe these printing techniques.

This year, the Bioluminescent Life forever stamps issued Feb. 22 incorporated a reflective ink, and the Frozen Treats forever stamps to be issued June 20 will use a scratch-and-sniff surface.

I’m going to go out on a limb to predict that there are more printing gimmicks coming to U.S. stamps in 2018.

In the Postal Service’s publicity image for the $5 Statue of Freedom stamp, the denomination colors seem to mimic certain details found on the front of some U.S. paper money printed using the intaglio process. This optically variable ink could appear on just the $5 stamp in the set of three ($1, $2 and $5) to be issued June 27, but we will have to wait and see.

A set of five Art of Magic forever stamps is scheduled to be issued Aug. 7. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Postal Service has a trick up its sleeve for this issue: perhaps disappearing ink?

These stamp issues have been receiving a lot of coverage in the general press, and positive press for stamp collecting is a good thing.

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The USPS also has applied these interesting printing techniques to other items. Covers of the USA Philatelic catalog have included finishes that mimic features found on recent stamp issues, such as the textured Sports Balls stamps.

The cover of The 2017 Stamp Yearbook showcases the subjects of some of last year’s issues with gloss on the butterfly and shark, a textured finish on the basketball, and matte finish on the green succulent plant, as well as a blob of thermochromic ink on the Total Solar Eclipse stamp design.