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US Issues First Plastic Stamp

May 19, 1990

SEATTLE (AP) _ U.S. technology may be taking a licking in some departments, but its new stamps don’t.

Take a licking, that is.

The Postal Service is making philatelic history today by issuing the first plastic stamp. It is be sold in bank cash machines and doesn’t need moisture to stick. You simply peel it off a sheet of backing and post it on your letter.

The 25-cent stamp, featuring an abstract American flag, is being offered on a six-month trial basis in the Seattle area to determine whether people will buy it, U.S. Postmaster General Anthony Frank said.

″Five years from now people will be telling their grandchildren, ‘I remember when automatic teller machines didn’t dispense stamps.’ That’s how fast things will go,″ Frank said Friday.

But, some may ask, why do we need a plastic stamp?

The stamps will allow consumers to buy stamps around the clock, Frank said. They are humidity and tear-resistant, and were designed to have the thickness of a dollar bill, so as to be dispensed through 24-hour bank machines.

People lined up in Seattle’s Columbia-Seafirst Tower to buy the first-day covers after enjoying a jazz band, an honor guard, a choral group and a first- day-of-issue ceremony.

The U.S. Postal Service and Seafirst Bank came up with the idea for the bank-dispensed stamp. Avery International Corporation, the largest maker of pressure adhesives, developed the stamp. Harry Zelenko of New York City designed it.

The stamp has ten layers and is basically a polyester film over a pressure- adhesive with a water-soluble primer. It is less than five-thousandth s of an inch thick and will be dispensed in sheets of 12 the size of a dollar bill.

It is not biodegradable, but can be soaked off envelopes and recycled by companies that deal with mixed materials, said Alan Gotcher, Avery’s vice president of corporate research.

The goal is to develop a similar stamp made of recyclable paper, Frank said.

Only 2 million of the stamps have been printed, so they are likely to become a valuable collectors item, said Jim Hall, a member of the Collectors Club of Seattle and a part-time stamp dealer.

″It’s quite innovative. It’s just a test stamp so it will be above average in value, more valuable than other commemorative stamps,″ said Hall, who bought 30 sheets and 15 first day covers.

He estimated one of the stamps could be worth a dollar within a few years.

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