STOP manufacturing rarities for revenue! Collectors are disappointed with USPS’ strategy

September 14th, 2015

Philatelists from around the world are highly irritated by the fact that USPS continue to reissue rare stamps for revenue! Many consider that "a true philatelic rarity does not happen "intentionally", but is usually known and publicized through individual's long term collecting, constant learning, and discovering". So why the US Postal Service does not give up its strategy to manufacture rare stamps in spite of the fact that philatelists do not approve it? This question remains unanswered.

Think stamps are only worth the paper they're printed on? Philatelists will tell you to think again. The tiny One-Cent Magenta stamp, now on display at the National Postal Museum, recently sold for $9.5 million.

Of course, that sole-surviving stamp of the British Guiana penny issues is the rarest stamp in the world. Other stamps deemed collectible by the philatelic community are also worth a pretty penny.

Take the 1918 Inverted Jenny 24-cent airmail stamp. It is one of the world's most collectible stamps because a sheet of 100 misprinted stamps showing an upside-down biplane was accidently sold to a customer. In today's market, an Inverted Jenny stamp could fetch close to $1 million.

Yes, collectors are passionate about their stamps. Indeed, stamp collecting even has a month – October – designated to recognize an activity that can range from a hobby to an obsession. Two years ago to celebrate National Stamp Collecting Month, the U.S. Postal Service reissued 2.2 million Inverted Jenny souvenir stamp sheets.

The souvenir stamp sheets feature six $2 stamps and sells for $12. Collectors could buy the stamps at select postal retail counters and through,, and by ordering via a toll free phone number. The Postal Service's goal was to sell all 2.2 million stamp sheets in the first 60 days for $26.4 million in revenue. As of March 31, total stamp sales were about $13 million.

To generate interest in stamp collecting and engage new generations of stamp collectors, the Postmaster General requested that the Postal Service create 100 additional stamp sheets that showed the biplane upright. Seventy of these Un-Inverted Jenny stamp sheets were distributed to be sold in the top 50 markets along with 1.2 million Inverted Jenny stamp sheets. The remaining 30 Un-Inverted Jenny stamp sheets were to be randomly distributed in the first 60 days of release.

A lot of stamp collectors are irritated by such a strategy:

"I want the USPS to STOP manufacturing rarities for revenue. Philatelic rarities should be just that, an accident, not an on purpose.

And as with many collectors, I do not want to see living movie stars on stamps again, i.e. the Harry Potter stamps. I know that some rules have changed but stamps have traditionally honored citizens after death. Can you imagine the lobbying to be on a stamp among people with huge egos? Why would Donald Trump, or some other narcissit, not generate enough petitions to be on a stamp?" – a professional stamp collector Bernice Field commented.

While an innovative idea, this action had the unintended consequence of creating and improperly distributing a philatelic rarity. The Postal Service strongly and inappropriately influenced the secondary market by creating a rarity. In 2014, at least two Un-Inverted Jenny stamp sheets sold for more than $50,000 each. In his report Inspector General recommended the Postal Service develop a formal process for philatelic promotions.