Printing experimentation caused varieties of lace stamps

Notes on U.S. Stamps by John M. Hotchner

An April 1, 1986 press release from the United States Postal Service announced that “22-cent lace stamps scheduled for issue May 2 will be deferred until a high-quality product can be assured.”

This press release explained that capturing the lace effect was proving difficult and that more time would be needed to perfect the technique.

This block of four se-tenant (side by side) from the American Folk Art series (Scott 2351-2354a) finally had its first day on August 14, 1987. As can be seen in Figure 1, the Lacemaking stamps were l wait is worth it.

What delayed the stamps was experimentation using both embossing and gravure.

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the Post Office finally opted for the printing of the blue background in offset and the white lace in intaglio. The latter resulted in the lace coming off the paper, greatly enhancing the effect.

Until the installation of the Bureau’s D press, built to print offset and intaglio in one run, such stamps were not possible. However, when the capabilities of a new press are probed in a learn-by-doing environment such as with lace stamps, a high percentage of waste can be expected. And the more waste there is, the more likely some will escape.

For the Lacemaking block of four, there is an error listed: lace missing. The Scott Catalog of errors on US postage stamps describes this as “omitted blank”. Figure 2 shows this error block.

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