Arago: 5-cent "U.S. Postage" Vertical Coil

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5-cent "U.S. Postage" Vertical Coil

On January 15, 1948, the Post Office Department issued its first coil stamp, the DC-4 Skymaster stamp.

Effective October 1, 1946, the domestic airmail rate fell from eight cents per ounce to five cents per ounce. Most significantly, this rate applied to United States possessions and territories for mail to the US mainland. This rate remained in effect until January 1, 1949, when it increased to six cents per ounce. The POD issued the smaller stamp for two reasons, user convenience and cost saving. The vending machines of the era, found primarily in airports, would not accommodate the rolls. The stamp was in use for less than one year before the rate increased.

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing produced 33,244,500 stamps on the rotary press, intaglio plate 170, cut lengthwise and joined to make coils of five hundred. The POD distributed the stamps only in the coils of 500, perforated 10 1/2 x 11.

The coils cost $25.00, a substantial outlay in 1948. Customers could purchase less than the entire coil.

The Post Office Department actively promoted "Nickel Airmail" in an effort to increase volume in the postwar era. Volume did increase by twenty-six percent in the thirty post offices handling seventy-five percent of the nation's airmail in the first fifteen days of the new rate.


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