SHINING SOME LIGHT ON SOUVENIR PAGES
We've discussed the evolution of tagging stamps to the point where tagging is now standard. I wish to continue the discussion from 1972, the initiation of Souvenir Pages, and discuss what varieties in tagging occur along the path until 1987 when the USPS instituted a major change to tagging.
1972 was a banner year to us Souvenir Page collectors. Seventeen pages were issued under subscription (plus one additional informal release for Family Planning). Little attention in the past was given to stamp tagging for these issues - but essentially all were tagged overall. However one specific issue, Mail Order Business (72-12) carried a 3/8" vertical tagging bar down the center of each stamp row. Very impressive looking; check it out with your short wavelength UV light. The noticeable thing here is that the USPS placed taggant over the entire stamp, including the perf margins. Even through 1973 all stamps were essentially tagged overall, except for the USPS Employees (73-07) which has a horizontal tagging bar running through each stamp strip and the Crossed Flags issue (73-21) which had a block tag - a small block of phosphor taggant placed on the face of each stamp. Nothing unusual here but nice to observe. The USPS essentially tagged stamps over the entire surface, including the perf margins through 1976. Variations from overall tagging for these first five years are summarized below:
THE Preee .... PREPHOSPHORED INTERVAL
On the table above is included a proposed numbering system. This system is based on the recent USPS Page numbering system year-FDOI sequence number. The Mail Order Business appeared on the 12th Souvenir Page, ordered by FDOI, in 1972 (72-12). Whatever, this is the number used throughout and should pose no problem in correlating to any other numbering system. As observed from this table, essentially few Souvenir Pages through 1976 (17 out of 124) were affixed with stamps not completely tagged. One tag type, B/V - Block over Vignette, starts to take prominence. This tagging type is essentially a block tag but covers the entire vignette or picture of each individual stamp without covering the perf margins. This is important to note since the next few ensuing years are dominated by this type of tagging. And why you may ask? The USPS tells us that the phosphor coating has major drawbacks - tagging rollers slow down press speeds, takes up one complete print station, dulls the brightness of printing ink, corrodes cutting knives and perfing pins, and prevents cancellation inks from penetrating stamps. This last item allowed an unscrupulous element in our society to remove cancels from stamps and reuse them. Remember these reasons for going away from overall tagging to block tagging. No sooner than block tagging gets into force, the USPS reverts back to overall tagging! Well almost. Overall and Block over Vignette were about evenly split until 1984 when B/V became the predominate one. I didn't list these but thought it would be fun to review our collections under short wavelength UV. Things you might find along the illuminated path:
ILLUMINATION ALONG THE PATH TO PREPHOSPHORING
* '72 Olympics and '73 Electronics - nice difference between regular (greenish) and airmail (orangish). Also shows tagging variations among regulars.
* Mar '74 Horse Racing - tag block shift so bottom of tag block shows in upper margin of stamp.
* Oct '74 Sleepy Hollow - some stamps heavily tagged such that eerie green hue over the entire stamp with orange moon in background; gives nice Ichabod Crane effect.
* Jan '76 Ben Franklin - I have a Page with both U.S. and Canadian stamps affixed (joint issue) U.S. stamp tagged overall whereas the Canadian stamp tagged in left and right margins only.
* Oct '76 Christmas - the two Currier and Ives stamps are difficult to tell apart (Gravure and Andreotti); however, Gravure is block tagged and Andreotti is tagged overall.
* Jun '78 Flag - good example showing both block and block over vignette tagging.
* Sep '78 Wright Bros. - first airmail tagged with zinc-orthosilicate (greenish) taggant.
* Dec '81 Flag o/Court - large tagging shifts on coil pair.
* Aug '82 Stagecoach - two parallel untagged line through coil pair.
* Nov '82 Kitten and Puppy - vertical tagging block over vignette (outer edges exposed); two tagging types (B/V and VB/V) mine is VB/V; Ceremony Programs are B/V.
* Aug '83 Omnibus - nice irregular phosphor coating on coil pair; check Ceremony program out on this issue also.
* Oct '83 Motorcycle - nice irregular phosphor coating on coil strip.
* Jan '84 Truman - nice block tagging on head area.
* Feb '84 Caboose - strange block tagging smear; tagging shifts (or miscuts) do occur.
* Apr '85 Seashells - tagging shift such that tagging appears on right edge of pane.
* May '85 Tricycle - nice vertical tagging shift.
* Jun '85 Bus - untagged except for two horizontal lines of taggant.
* Nov '86 Truck - nice block tag shift.
* Jun '87 Wildlife - some strips show large tagging shifts.