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How Do Older "First Class Mail" Stamps Work?

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Valued Member
United States
192 Posts
Posted 05/08/2022   8:16 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add oldboldandbrash to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
When buying stamps from a dealer recently, he only charged me 37 some odd cents per Stop Family Violence Semi-postal, 33 cents or something for the Breast Cancer semi postal, and 37 cents or something for the Toy Train First Class mail stamp. Is the implication here that that's all they cover in postage? Can't I use ANY first class mail designated stamp to always cover the modern day rate, or is it, as written on the sheets themselves, "valid for postage at the First class mail rate in effect AT THE TIME OF PURCHASE."

In essence my question is, aren't first class mail stamps (semi posts included) technically forever stamps? What's the difference?
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Edited by oldboldandbrash - 05/08/2022 8:16 pm

Pillar Of The Community
United States
659 Posts
Posted 05/08/2022   8:21 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add classic_paper to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
From USPS:

Quote:
The price of a semipostal stamp pays for the First-Class single-piece postage rate in effect at the time of purchase plus an amount to fund causes that have been determined to be in the national public interest.
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Valued Member
United States
192 Posts
Posted 05/08/2022   8:24 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add oldboldandbrash to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
So I basically have to research when they came out to see what the postal rate was at the time of issue? Seems kind of bogus
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United States
7233 Posts
Posted 05/08/2022   8:59 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add bookbndrbob to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Is it unfair to abide by the conditions under which the stamps were issued?

Things don't always go our way just because we want them to.
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Pillar Of The Community
United States
659 Posts
Posted 05/08/2022   8:59 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add classic_paper to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
To be fair, your user ID implies you're old enough to remember the rates, and bold enough to not be afraid of a little research.
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Edited by classic_paper - 05/08/2022 9:00 pm
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Posted 05/08/2022   9:31 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rogdcam to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
If it doesn't say Forever it isn't a variable rate stamp.
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United Kingdom
6447 Posts
Posted 05/09/2022   01:23 am  Show Profile Check GeoffHa's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add GeoffHa to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
This is a rather odd practice, which assumes either that a first-class stamp is immediately used, or that its owner can tie it to a past postage rate. Here, a first or second class stamp can be used as such, irrespective of when it was issued. On the other hand, the likelihood of a US post office employee checking the issue date and value of a stamp on a package going through the system must be low.
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Posted 05/09/2022   05:51 am  Show Profile Check revenuecollector's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add revenuecollector to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I use the following page all the time, which lists all of the nondenominated U.S. stamps, when they were issued, and their postal value.

https://alphabetilately.org/G2.html
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Posted 05/09/2022   07:46 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add rogdcam to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
As Geoff says, it is unlikely that the postal service cares anymore. You could likely use bird poop to mail a letter so long as it was on a properly sized piece of self adhesive paper.
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Posted 05/09/2022   12:41 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add redwoodrandy to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Forgot to put a stamp on the envelope and it was received with no problem.
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10525 Posts
Posted 05/09/2022   1:31 pm  Show Profile Check 51studebaker's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add 51studebaker to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Stamp Smarter also has all the non-denominated stamps here https://stampsmarter.org/features/Id_US_RegB.html
Click tab named 'View non-denominated stamps'. This tool also has every US stamp listed for anyone who might be interested.
Don
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7 Posts
Posted 05/09/2022   5:32 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Hilarion to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
But getting back to the original question: The semipostals are even more confusing than most nondenominated stamps, because they were often sold for long periods of time across several changes in postal rates. So their current postal value isn't necessarily the same as the value they had when originally sold; it's equal to the last postal value that particular stamp had when sales ended.

In particular, any semipostal that is still being sold has the same value as a Forever stamp, even if your particular copy of that semipostal was originally bought at a lower value. But once a semipostal goes off sale, its value no longer rises with future rate increases.

Clear as mud?
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United States
605 Posts
Posted 05/09/2022   5:46 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add centerstage98 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
All of the semipostals can be used today as domestic first-class postage - it says so right on them.

Any Forever stamp is the same.

The oddballs are those that were issued just during a rate change or at a rate change that carry no denomination.
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Valued Member
United States
192 Posts
Posted 05/09/2022   7:26 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add oldboldandbrash to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Initially everyone was so flippant towards me about their value but now I feel people are coming around to my confusion towards their supposed quasi forever status? If I was sending mail to friends I would just test out a bunch to see what happened, but as I use postage almost exclusively for mailing out eBay sales, I can't risk it.

Another question— has your postal clerk ever called your particularly heavy stamp usage "suspicious mail"? The clerk today said I had to limit myself to 2 stamps! ????
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Valued Member
United States
134 Posts
Posted 05/09/2022   10:15 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add sheetguy2 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Another question— has your postal clerk ever called your particularly heavy stamp usage "suspicious mail"? The clerk today said I had to limit myself to 2 stamps! ????

Tell your clerk he/she better read the postal regulations again.....
You could put 58 1c stamps on it if you like
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Canada
1330 Posts
Posted 05/09/2022   10:54 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add No1philatelist to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I paste envelopes and packages with lower value stamps. Fronts, tops and sides. Just dont put them on back. In Canada as long as the postage was never used and pays the going rate (without the surcharge of the semipostal added in) and it is properly addressed it is good to go. And as sheetguy says, tell them to read the regulations.
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Edited by No1philatelist - 05/09/2022 10:55 pm
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