US Stamps

Watch for uses of these U.S. booklet stamps

Sep 16, 2019, 8 AM

U.S. Stamp Notes by John M. Hotchner

Relatively common United States stamps with minimal value as used singles can have first cousins that are quite a lot more desirable, or if found used on cover in their rate period can draw considerable interest.

The two examples I am describing in this column can be considered to be afterthoughts on booklet panes.

Figure 1 shows the 13¢ Flag Over Capitol booklet pane issued in 1977. Seven times 13¢ equals 91¢, an unwieldy number for selling a booklet of stamps.

At that time, 13¢ was the domestic letter rate, but adding another 13¢ stamp to the pane would not have improved matters much. So the U.S. Postal Service decided to add a single 9¢ stamp to the pane to bring the booklet price to an even $1. It made sense because the postcard rate at the time was 9¢.

The existing 9¢ Dome of Capitol stamp in the Americana series was slate green on gray paper, as shown at top in Figure 2. This could not be replicated in the booklet pane because the background on the 13¢ Flag Over Capitol stamp did not have the gray tint. So for this booklet version, the 9¢ Dome of Capitol design was printed with a white background, as shown on the bottom stamp in Figure 2.

With only one 9¢ stamp per booklet, this stamp saw little use. To complicate matters further, the 13¢ Flag Over Capitol booklet was issued with two different perforations: 11 by 10½ (Scott 1590 for the 9¢ stamp, 1623 for the 13¢), and 10 by 9¾ (1590A for the 9¢ stamp, 1623B for the 13¢). The latter is by far the more scarce.

Both of these 9¢ booklet stamps with contemporary cancellations are tough to find. Scott values used examples of the stamps at $1 (Scott 1590) and $12.50 (1590A), against a catalog value of 25¢ for the normal slate green on gray sheet stamp (1591).

The Scott Specialized Catalog of United States Stamps and Covers does not value on-cover usages, but multiply the used values by at least two if you are lucky enough to find an example on cover.

The first-class letter rate increased to 15¢ May 29, 1978, and then to 18¢ on March 22, 1981. The cover in Figure 3, sent July 30, 1981, from Kalamazoo, Mich., is franked with the 9¢ Dome of Capitol booklet stamp and the 9¢ sheet stamp to pay the 18¢ rate.

On April 24, 1981, the USPS issued a booklet with six 18¢ stamps for the then-new domestic rate. The stamp (Scott 1893) depicts the flag with purple mountains representing the lyrics “ … for purple mountain majesties” from the song America the Beautiful.

Again, to make the value of the booklet come out even, two 6¢ stamps (Scott 1892) were added to the pane. A booklet with a single pane of the six 18¢ and two 6¢ stamps came to $1.20. Figure 4 shows the booklet pane.

Using both of the 6¢ stamps paid the then-current postcard rate of 12¢, and three 6¢ stamps would equal the 18¢ letter rate. Finding either usage is difficult, but finding the three 6¢ stamps paying the first-class rate is like finding a needle in a haystack. Keep in mind that the 18¢ rate period lasted only seven months: from March 22 until Oct. 31, 1981.

The cover in Figure 5 bearing three 6¢ stamps paying the first-class rate was sent July 8, 1981, from Prince George’s, Md.

The Scott catalog values a used example of the 6¢ stamp at the catalog minimum of 25¢, the same as for the 18¢ stamp. However, finding covers showing correct contemporaneous usage of the 6¢ stamp is a challenge.

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