USPS stamps

United States stamp collecting guide: collectible American stamps, how US postage stamps are printed, and famous rare American stamps

1868 Benjamin Franklin Z-Grill stamp
1868 Benjamin Franklin Z-Grill stamp

Are you ready to take your stamp collection to the next level?

Go global with United States stamp collecting.

Most stamp collectors, like you, have ventured into philately starting with a modest postage stamp collection of local stamps or postage stamps you can easily find in your nearest post office.

Being a dynamic philatelist as you are, you go out and seek new stamps to increase your postage stamps collection. Would it not be nice if you can also dedicate a whole stamp album for USPS stamp collecting?

What are the collectible American stamps?

Philatelists just love to collect US postage stamps whether they are definitive stamps, commemorative stamps or customized stamps.

USPS definitive stamps, or the regular postage stamps, are printed in large quantities. Their typical size is less than a square inch. A definitive stamp program may have several reprintings.

American commemorative stamps, on the other hand, are more colorful and bigger than definitive stamps. USPS commemorative stamps cost a bit higher than the regular US postage stamps. Like commemorative stamps from other nations, US commemorative stamps carry a premium to finance various charities and institutions.

You can find the list of all USPS stamps in the American stamp catalogue. US postage stamps are also great for topical stamp collecting. Other interesting America postage stamps include:

• USPS Holiday stamps – also known as Christmas stamps, Hanukkah stamps, and Kwanzaa stamps. These American stamp collectibles are issued for a limited quantity, in time for the holiday it is celebrating.

• Duck stamps – these US stamps issued by the US federal government to raise money for the conservation of wildlife habitat is widely collected by stamp collectors and duck hunters.

• USPS wedding stamps and photo stamps – although, these American stamps rarely have collector’s value, USPS is the largest maker of personalized stamps worldwide. Ready-made wedding stamps are available at the post office. But, even if you have your picture on a custom US stamp, it is valid for posting.

• US Forever stamps or non-denominated US stamps – true to its name, USPS Forever stamps will always be valid for first class US postal mail. Because a Forever stamps has no expiry date, it is collected for its postal value rather as an American stamp collectible.

These American post stamps are called non-denominated US postage stamps because they do not have a face value. Rather, some are printed with letters to indicate their stamp values.

How are US postage stamps issued?

For some time, United States stamps were issued by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the same agency that makes the US paper bills, revenue stamps, and federal bonds.

American postage stamps can also be collected depending on how the stamps are issued. It can either be by sheets, booklets, or coils. Loose stamps, or cancelled stamps, detached from a stamp sheetlet are often sold or traded among philatelists.

Another sub-type of US postage stamps is determined by their stamp gum. USPS stamps may use the conventional adhesive, also known as “lick-and-stick stamps”, or self-adhesive, known as “no-lick, peel-and stick stamps”.

How are US postage stamps printed?

Through the years, American stamps have been printed using either a flat-bed press or a rotary press.

1920 US postage stamps were printed on a rotary press. This printing process caused the stamp paper to stretch when it passed through a cylinder. Thus, early American postage stamps tend to be a little elongated compared to the contemporary USPS stamp issues that were made on a flatbed press.

Another defining characteristic of a US postage stamp is the stamp paper. A ribbed stamp paper is called “laid”. A plain stamp paper is called “wove”. USPS adhesive stamps are printed on wove paper. The laid paper is used for the embossed stamp envelopes that are sold in US postal stores.

Can I find a stamp watermark on American stamps?

No if your USPS postage stamp was issued after 1915. This was the last year that American stamps were issued with watermarks. Contemporary American stamps no longer bear a watermark seal. Find out if your pre-1915 stamps have watermarks by holding them up against the light.

Are United States postage stamps perforated?

Yes. Most US postage stamps issued after 1857 had perforation marks. That year was the advent of perforating machines in the United States postal service.

What are the famous US postage stamps?

Investing in American stamps is another interesting aspect in United States stamp collecting. US postage stamps have rare postage stamps, too. These are some of the valuable American stamps worth millions of dollars:

• 1868 Benjamin Franklin Z-Grill stamp – only two Z-grill stamp specimens have survived today, and each is priced at $ 2 million.

• 1935 Farley’s Follies stamps – these notorious stamps were publicly denounced when Postmaster James A. Farley made them for his political friends.

• 1962 Dag Hammarskjold Error” stamps – these error stamps were printed with a wrong background color, also know as the Day follies after Postmast Edward Day.

• 1918 Inverted Airmail postage stamp – popularly called as the Inverted Jenny, this rare American postage stamp featured an inverted Curtiss plane on the design.

What are the collectible US postal stationeries?

Aside from US postage stamp collecting, American philately has another fascinating branch called US postal stationery collecting.

United States postal stationeries include postal cards, envelope, letter sheets, post cards, lettercards, aerogramme or any postal documents with imprinted stamps.

American postal stationeries can also be in a form of cut squares, these are portions of the envelope with valuable and often rare US stamp cancellation.