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Government To Scrutinize All Recent Stamps For Secret Marks

August 25, 1987

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The number of U.S. postage stamps found to have secret markings was reported to have climbed to three as the Bureau of Engraving and Printing said Tuesday it is pursuing a detailed examination of all recent stamps.

Linn’s Stamp News reported a Swedish government engraver worked his name into the grass depicted on a stamp designed to honor World War I veterans. Czeslaw Slania was recruited to engrave the stamp for the United States, according to the weekly newspaper of stamp collecting.

Bureau of Engraving and Printing spokesman Larry Zenker said Tuesday that he could not confirm the report.

A detailed analysis of stamps printed by the bureau since 1980 is under way, Zenker said, but no results are available yet. He said the review is expected to take about 90 days.

The bureau did issue a statement, however, announcing the study after two other incidents were disclosed.

In the most recent case, bureau engraver Thomas Hipschen was found to have placed his name on the hand stamp pictured on a 1986 postage stamp issued to honor the hobby of stamp collecting.

Earlier it had been disclosed that engraver Kenneth Kipperman had secretly placed a Star of David in the beard of Bernard Revel, a Jewish educator who is pictured on the $1 postage stamp.

Kipperman has been removed from engraving duties following a recent incident in which he threatened to bomb the future site of the Holocaust Museum, near the bureau offices. He later underwent psychiatric evaluation and has been returned to administrative duties.

Bureau engravers are not allowed to sign their work and placing such marks on stamps is unauthorized, but the bureau did not say whether any disciplinary action is being taken against Hipschen.

Slania is a well-known engraver who also produced the joint U.S.-Sweden treaty stamp and has done stamps for several other nations. He has a reputation for humor, Linn’s reported, citing a stamp he engraved for Poland in 1954 in which a close look at books depicted on the stamp were found to carry the names of members of his family.

None of the marks secretly placed on the U.S. stamps is easily seen with the naked eye and the stamps will not be recalled, said U.S. Postal Service spokesman Lou Eberhardt.

The marks are not offensive, postal officials have said, and since they appear on all copies of the stamps they should have no effect on the value of the stamps.

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