Official stamps were first issued in 1873 and used for about 10 years. These are Scott numbers O1 to O120. They were replaced by penalty franks. Penalty franks are the familiar wording such as ďPenalty for private use $300Ē that you see imprinted on envelopes where the stamp is supposed to be affixed.
In 1910, the USPOD briefly issued six more stamps for Official Postal Savings Mail. These are Scott numbers O121 to O126.
In 1983, the USPS brought back Official stamps. The modern issues are Scott numbers O127 to O163. The USPS has announced that it will no longer issue official stamps. Agencies should use up any remaining stock. Afterwards, they should revert to using ordinary postage stamps again.
The moden officials enjoyed a 30 year run before coming to an end. In many cases, finding properly used examples on cover within their time period of use is an almost impossible task. Many such covers went from one agency to another and the covers ended up in the trash in most cases.
Itís possible that the recent officials may rise in catalog value, at least temporarily. Because the USPS is no longer issuing them, collectors may take a liking to these stamps, at least in the short term, and try to buy up some of these stamps. To be clear, Iím not suggesting these stamps are a good investment. What I am saying is that prices may rise a little bit as collectors buy these issues to fill out their albums. In doing so, the supply will drop and prices may rise a little bit.
If youíre interested in these issues, I suggest buying them now and you may save yourself a few dollars in the coming months if prices do rise. In a year or two, the Official stamps will be gone from the USPS radar and collectors will have bought whatever copies they need. Time will tell if these issues retain their popularity and prices remain higher than today. Or will interest in Officials wane because there are no new issues and prices will drop again? I donít know the answer to that question. Only time will tell.