Marginal Markings Committee


Tab Data





Design Elements


Various types of descriptive data have been placed in the margins since 1990, including historical data, biographical data, promotional markings, informational markings, and, most recently, web sites.


Historical data provides the public with a historical context for the issuance of the stamp.  Perhaps the most comprehensive treatment to date is the set of five World War II issues from 1991 through 1995 that provided text and maps that showed the major events in the war for each year.


1942 World War II 50th anniversary issue.


Historical information on the war in Europe and Africa.


Biographical data concerning individuals began in February, 1990"Postmaster General Anthony M. Frank “started looking at the Great Americans series and he said, if a stamp doesn’t explain itself, if it leaves the customer saying ‘Why is this person on this stamp I’m buying?’ then the stamp design has failed.  And even if we made it possible for a window clerk to answer that question, Mr. Frank said, it wouldn’t help a person who received a letter with that stamp on it.  He’s not going to drive all the way down to his post office and ask a window clerk, and he’s not going down to the library and look it up.  Mr. Frank said to us:  You’ve got to fix it.(Don McDowell, manager of the USPS Stamps Division, on why biographical material was being printed in the selvage, from Linn’s U.S. Stamp Yearbook 1990)  As a result, in February 18, 1990 the USPS printed biographical information (“Luis Munoz Marin (1998-1980.  First elected Governor of Puerto Rico, 1948.  Founder of Puerto Commonwealth.”) in the selvage of Scott 2173, the first stamp in the Great Americans series to contain such information.




Biographical data from the Women In Journalism issue, with a Decorative Banner.


Promotional markings for USPS products can be found on several issues, including 1992 World War II commemorative issue (2697) and the Elvis issue (2721).  These markings originated on the Prehistoric Animals issue of 1989.   "For a theme for National Stamp Collecting Month and the stamps to launch it, USPS reached back million of years to the early morning of life on earth.  To promote the stamps, it turned to the most modern of multimedia marketing techniques…  To advertise the (dinosaur) poster, USPS took the novel step of using the selvage of the stamp pane itself for a commercial message in black and red." (Linn’s U.S. Stamp Yearbook 1989)



Promotional offer for Dinosaur Poster. 


Promotional information for a series of books on the five WWII issues.


Informational markings have been used since 1990 on the 25¢ Sea Life Joint issue with the USSR.  It has also been used on booklet panes.  It provides general information about the issue. 






The National Postal Museum Issue contains historical and informational data in the top and bottom margins.





Web site inscriptions appeared beginning with the 34¢ Diabetes Awareness self-adhesive stamp issued in 2001. Subsequently, the 37¢ Neuter or Spay self-adhesive sheet was issued with a marginal web site inscription.  While a site may stay active for years, you wonder what a collecters will find if they try the URL in 10, 20 or 100 years from now!!



Neuter or Spay Web Site Markings 


Diabetes Web Site Markings



Plate Identification


Production Markings









George Amick, Linn’s U.S. Stamp Yearbook 1989, Linn's Stamp News, 1989, pg 111.


George Amick, Linn’s U.S. Stamp Yearbook 1990,  Linn's Stamp News, 1990, pg 172-175.


J. Gulka, "Some Firsts Around the Edges", The United States Specialist, Vol 61, 1990, Sep. pg 493, and M. Rybalka, "U.S. Sheet Stamps of 1989", pg. 520

D. B. Littlefield, "The First Public Service Messages on Booklet Panes", The United States Specialist, Vol 63, 1992, Aug. pg 412.

John S. Meek, The Calendar, Year Dates and Some Marginal Markings, Vol 70 No 12, December 1999, pg 559-567.

 Doug D’Avino, The Encyclopedia of United States Stamp Collecting:  Marginal Markings, The United States Specialist, Vol 75, September 2004, pg 389-406. 





Marginal Markings -










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