The Flag Over the Porch stamp design is one of the most complex modern issues to identify. It was printed by several different printers. The number of varieties and the detail needed to identify them almost rivals the 1˘ and 2˘ Washington-Franklin head issues.
Two major factors contribute to the complexity of these issues. First, in my opinion, the Scott catalog listings are not consistent. In some cases, there should have been at least a minor catalog number issued. For example, on #2913, why isn’t there a difference noted in the catalog between the shiny gum and dull gum varieties?
The second factor is the number of printers involved. As the contract to print stamps moved from one entity to another, tiny differences in the stamp design were used to identify the issues. In particular, the year date varied in size and ink color. In some cases, I think the USPS got the stamps from the new printer, looked at them briefly, and said, “Ah, they look the same as the old ones.” You couldn’t buy one variety versus another from the Stamp Fulfillment Center because all of the stamps were lumped together under a single item number.
(On a related note, I now notice that the USPS does separate stamps at the Stamp Fulfillment Center by printer. Take the recent Liberty and Flag Forever stamps. Although the USPS separates them, often times they’ll note that the stamps should be identical, other than the plate number used to print the stamps. I think doing this is part of the fallout over the confusion with the Flag Over the Porch varieties where the USPS couldn’t match customer demand for specific varieties.)
Because I’m getting into the more modern stamps for my stock and I have to unravel this maze of Scott numbers, now is a good time to make my cheat sheet available to everyone else. To me, the key to identifying these issues is as follows.
1. Identify the format first: sheet, coil, or booklet.
2. In most cases, the next easy step is to identify the year, its size, and ink color. For example, #2915 and #2915B use different dates.
3. The last step is to measure the perforations or die cuts. For example, #2915A and #2915C only vary by perforation
In the case when the only difference is the gum used, that means used copies are indistinguishable. For example, on Scott #2913, mint examples can show the gum differences. A used example is just an ordinary #2913.
|2897||Sheet||Blue||1995||Perf||10.4||Water Activated Very Low Gloss Gum|
|2897v||Booklet Pane/15||Blue||1995||Perf||10.4||Water Activated Low Gloss Gum|
|2913||Coil||Red||1995||Perf||9.8||Water Activated Low Gloss Gum|
|2913||Coil||Red||1995||Perf||9.8||Water Activated Shiny Gum|
|2914||Coil||Blue||1995||Perf||9.8||Water Activated Low Gloss Gum|
|2915||Coil||Blue||1995||Die Cut||8.7||Self Adhesive|
|2915A||Coil||Red||1996||Die Cut||9.8||Self Adhesive|
|2915B||Coil||Blue||1996||Die Cut||11.5||Self Adhesive|
|2915C||Coil||Red||1996||Die Cut||10.9||Self Adhesive|
|2915D||Coil||Red||1997||Die Cut||9.8||Self Adhesive|
|2916||Single||Red||1995||Perf||10.8 x 9.8||Water Activated|
|2916a||Booklet Pane||Red||1995||Perf||10.8 x 9.8||Water Activated|
|2920||Single||Blue||Large 1995||Die Cut||8.8||Self Adhesive|
|2920a||Booklet Pane||Blue||Large 1995||Die Cut||8.8||Self Adhesive|
|2920b||Single||Blue||Small 1995||Die Cut||8.8||Self Adhesive|
|2920c||Booklet Pane||Blue||Small 1995||Die Cut||8.8||Self Adhesive|
|2920D||Single||Blue||1996||Die Cut||11.3||Self Adhesive|
|2920De||Booklet Pane||Blue||1996||Die Cut||11.3||Self Adhesive|
|2920MDI||Single||Blue||Large 1995||Die Cut||8.8||Self Adhesive|
|2920f||Booklet Pane||Blue||Large 1995||Die Cut||8.8||Self Adhesive|
|2920h||Booklet Pane||Blue||Large 1995||Die Cut||8.8||Self Adhesive|
|2921||Single||Red||1996||Die Cut||9.8||Self Adhesive|
|2921a||Booklet Pane||Red||1996||Die Cut||9.8||Self Adhesive|
|2921b||Single||Red||1997||Die Cut||9.8||Self Adhesive|
|2921c||Booklet Pane/10||Red||1997||Die Cut||9.8||Self Adhesive|
|2921d||Booklet Pane/5||Red||1997||Die Cut||9.8||Self Adhesive|
|3133||Coil||Blue||1996||Die Cut||9.9||Self Adhesive|