Saturday, March 2, 2013

United States Letter-denominated Stamps

Above is a maximum card ©1985 The Maximum Card Collection, a division of Unicover Corporation. The stamp on the card is the D sheet stamp issued on February 1, 1985. The following information is printed on the back of the card:

Like the pioneer and homesteader, the stagecoach played a vital role in the early development of the American West. Early on, letters and messages were carried by horse and rider, but their reliability was marginal at best. As the amount of mail being sent increased, its sheer bulk and weight made the horse and rider impractical. Thus, the stagecoach became the primary mode of transporting the mail. The earliest coaches covered a set distance each day in "stages" over a predetermined route and thus became known as stagecoaches. By the 1830s stagecoaches were carrying the mail over seventeen million miles of roads annually and were instrumental in helping settle new territories. This Maximum Card features a non-denominated D series sheet stamp issued in anticipation of the Postal Rate Change of 1985. At the time the D stamps were to be printed for the 1985 postal increase, the amount of the rate change was uncertain. Consequently, for only the fourth time in U.S. history, the Postal Service issued non-denominated stamps.
 Actually, the D stamp was the fourth letter-denominated stamp, but not the fourth non-denominated stamp. There also were some non-denominated Christmas stamps before D letter-denominated stamp. The letter-denominated stamps were issued in preparation for postage rate increases. After reaching the letter "H", this practice was replaced by simply indicating the class of postage (e.g., first class) for which the stamp was intended. The USPS has a Quick Service Guide online showing non-denominated stamps here.

Here is a table with the design, value and issue date of the letter-denominated stamps:

Letter Design Value Issue Date
A Orange Eagle 15 cents May 22, 1978
B Purple Eagle 18 cents March 15, 1981
C Brown Eagle 20 cents October 11, 1981
D Green Eagle 22 cents February 1, 1985
E Earth 25 cents March 22, 1988
F Flower 29 cents January 22, 1991
F Flag 29 cents January 22, 1991
G Old Glory (Flag) 32 cents December 13, 1994
H Hat 33 cents November 19, 1998

This is a post for Sunday Stamps at Viridian's Postcard Blog


  1. I have seen, and I might still have, a non denominational Christmas stamp. Thank you for joining me this week!
    If you semi-regularly send postcards via Postcrossing, you will get a monthly email with your stats.

  2. You have taught me some things about USA postage that I didn't know before with this post.

  3. Interesting letter concept, and list. Love the romance of that mail bag being propelled though the west on a stagecoach.

  4. Interesting. I had though non-denominated stamps would be the same as Forever stamps but I see they had specific values.

  5. Thank you for that explanation of the letter denominated stamp (I have a couple that I kept meaning to investigate)

  6. I did not know about denominated stamps. I learned something new today. :)

    -Willa @ Postage Journal: My Sunday Stamp#50:Hello Kitty


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