Introduction: Postage stamps are a form of security paper, similar to currency. Postage stamps prepay the government for a service - the delivery of the mail. Any counterfeiting or reuse of postage stamps defrauds the government of revenue for services rendered. Consequently, the United States government designs and produces its postage stamps under tightly controlled conditions using printing and design features intended to thwart counterfeiters. While security features designed to prevent reuse of a postage stamp help achieve anti-counterfeiting goals, anti-counterfeiting features do not necessarily prevent reuse.
Microprinting: Microprinting is the use of tiny printed letters, numbers and symbols on currency postage stamps and other security paper. Generally, the text cannot be seen with the naked eye, but becomes visible under magnification. The 1992 Christmas Toys block of four has three security features – microprinted dots, microprinted symbols and numbers and special metallic ink. The multiple security features combine to make these stamps more difficult to reproduce. Each of the four stamps has magenta dot patterns in the design and bears “1992”microprinted text in the design. This marks the first instance of microprinting used inside the actual stamp designs. A third, more discrete security feature, is the special green, metallic ink used for the numeric “29” denomination and the letters “USA”. The special ink makes the “29/USA” more difficult to reproduce. The stamps were printed by Ashton-Potter American Inc.
Check Back On April 15, 2011 To Learn More About USPS Security Measures For U.S. Stamps!
About The Author: James Chenevert is a graduate of the Young Philatelic Leaders Fellowship (YPLF), Class of 2010. Currently a Freshman at Dunlap High School in Peoria, Illinois, James has collected stamps since age 6. James's exhibit "Security Features of United States Postage Stamps: 1974-2009," developed during his year-long YPLF experience, has won multiple gold and youth grand awards in competition at National-level philatelic exhibitions. Learn more about James, his exhibit and the YPLF here.