Arago: 5.5-cent Star Route Truck

5.5-cent Star Route Truck

The 5.5-cent Star Route Truck Transportation coil was issued on Nov 1, 1986, at Fort Worth, Texas, where 136,021 first day covers were cancelled. Star routes came into existence in 1845 when President Tyler signed legislation allowing mail to be transported by the lowest bidder that would provide "celerity, certainty and security." Such contract routes were originally designated by an asterisk, or star, in postal records. Utilitarian trucks were replacing carts, buckboards, and dog sleds by the 1920s.

The 5.5-cent issue was introduced to cover the non-profit bulk rate sorted to the nine digit carrier route. Originally, the design had been scheduled for in June as a 5.7-cent value to meet the proposed rate increase for third-class mail presorted to the carrier route address. It was postponed until mid-September after Congressional action reduced the new rate to five-and-a-half cents. Concern that Congressional funding might die at the end of the government’s fiscal year (September 30) delayed the issue further, until November 1. The stamp continued in use as a false franking when the rate was reduced again on April 3, 1988. Bulk mailers were authorized to continue using the 5.5-cent stamp until October 9, 1988, with the difference to be refunded by the Postal Service.

The 5.5-cent Star Route Truck was printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing on the B press with a plate number every fifty-two stamps. The "CAR-RT Sort / Non-profit Org." inscription was printed in black ink from the same plate that printed the maroon vignette. The service-inscribed version is untagged. It was printed by plates 1 and 2 in coils of five hundred and 3,000 stamps. The collectors’ version, without the service inscription, was issued only in coils of five hundred with block tagging.

The stamp was designed by David K. Stone of Port Washington, New York. Joseph Creamer engraved the vignette, and Dennis Brown engraved the lettering. Both worked for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

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