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'D' for Dreary

March 18, 1985

Hope is in sight for those as uninspired as we by the interim stamp that has adorned most American mail since the first-class rate went to 22 cents on Feb. 17. A new 22-cent stamp will be available March 30 in books, coils and sheets. It will depict the American flag fluttering over the Capitol, a variation of the 20-cent version that had the flag over the Supreme Court.

In the meantime two commemorative stamps honoring Jerome Kern and Mary McLeod Bethune have been circulated, with more on the way, but, where we do our postal business, about all that we have found are the sickly "D" interims that fill in while the presses catch up with the Postal Service decision to impose new rates.

We are still not clear why an interim stamp must be bilious in color, and with a format that looks more like a failed printer's proof than a finished product. The people in Washington say that they don't like to invest in anything fancier because nobody knows how long the stamps might sit around.

The priority has been on getting out international stamps that clearly show the value. The overseas postal services take a dim view of a "D" stamp, not knowing how much it might be worth. It's hard to return a letter or collect a fee for insufficient postage in those circumstances. The solution that would win every poll hands down would be to keep postal rates where they are--every poll, that is, except at the Postal Service.

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