Vintage Circus Posters souvenir sheet

bigalke_grant_barabooDecember 12th: American Philatelist editor Jay Bigalke was in Baraboo, Wisconsin, for the first day of issue, servicing FDCs. He tells The Virtual Stamp Club that the Baraboo post office was selling the press sheets there, and “I did service a couple, but not a lot!” The local newspaper, the Baraboo News Republic, ran a story on the souvenir sheet’s first day, which included a photo of Jay servicing FDCs as APS Secretary Ken Grant looks on (left). There are other photos in the story.

December 4th: The press sheets have sold out and taken off-sale, and the USPS says they will not be reprinted.

November 22nd: The individual souvenir sheets in a press sheet of 12 are diecut… and can be removed from the  backing paper, as shown here. First, before an individual souvenir sheet has been removed:circsheet_diecut1….and after: circsheet_diecut2So there is a way to obtain a mint souvenir sheet without buying the Yearbook. The only problems are that you must buy 12 of them (and having to buy a minimum quantity is standard with nearly all U.S. stamps now) and if you wish to keep the backing paper with a margin around the sheet, you must carefully cut it out of the sheet yourself.

Thanks to VSC member Foster E. Miller III for helping to nail this down.

November 18th: The USPS is showing a B&W pictorial first-day postmark for this issue, on a 6″x9″ envelope. When the issue was announced in August, we were told there would be a Digital Color Postmark (DCP) for it, with no mention of the black-and-white pictorial. I have asked for clarification on both that and the envelope size that will be used for the USPS-serviced FDCs. (Envelope size is confirmed at 6″x9″.)

From the USPS: “The following are dimensions for the Circus Souvenir sheet, 4.9699″ x 3.3754″, and the Circus Souvenir press sheets are 11 X24½. Please note that the souvenir sheet has 12 individual “sheets” affixed to paper backing like all other stamps, they are not perforated in any way, they simply peel off like stickers.”

Here’s what the B&W postmark looks like: circus_sheet_bw

October 31st: Here’s a larger, clearer image of the design: circussheet_bigOctober 30th Postal Bulletin:

circusheetOn December 10, 2014, in Baraboo, WI, the U.S. Postal Service® will issue a Circus souvenir sheet, available as single mint souvenir sheets exclusively in the 2014 Stamp Yearbook.

The U.S. Postal Service celebrates the joy of the big top with Circus, an individual mint souvenir sheet available exclusively as a bonus in the 2014 Stamp Yearbook. The issuance features a $1 stamp showcasing an iconic vintage circus poster and two identical 50-cent circus wagon 1900s stamps illustrated by Susan Sanford, which are new versions of a design originally issued in 1990. Made by the Strobridge Lithographing Company, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey poster features a clown tipping his cap and gesturing toward the circus. The circus wagon stamps showcase an illustration of the type of decorated wagon that routinely rolled into cities across America more than a century ago. Art director Jennifer Arnold designed the Circus souvenir sheet with selvage colors of red and gold, often used in circus imagery. The shape of the selvage is reminiscent of an ornately decorated circus wagon.

How to Order the First-Day-of-Issue Postmark:
Customers have 60 days to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmark by mail. They may purchase the new 2014 Stamp Yearbook or the Uncut Press sheets at the Postal Store® website at, or by calling 800-STAMP-24. They should affix the stamps or souvenir sheets to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes (to themselves or others), and place them in a larger envelope addressed to:

Circus Souvenir Sheet
303 Broadway Street
Baraboo, WI 53913-6738

After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service™ will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark up to a quantity of 50. For more than 50, customers have to pay five cents each. All orders must be postmarked by February 8, 2015.

There are two philatelic products for this stamp issue:

588708, Circus Souvenir Sheet, uncut press sheet, $24.00 (print quantity 10,000).
588716 Circus Souvenir Sheet FDC (full pane), $4.50.

Technical Specifications:

Issue: Circus Souvenir Sheet
Item Number: 588700
Denomination & Type of Issue: 50-cent & $1.00
Format: Souvenir Sheet
Series: N/A
Issue Date & City: December 10, 2014, Baraboo, WI 53913
Designer: Sheet: Jennifer Arnold, Washington, DC
Clown: Jennifer Arnold, Washington, DC
Circus Wagon: Joe Brockert, Washington, DC
Art Director: Clown: Greg Breeding, Charlottesville, VA
Circus Wagon: Joe Brockert, Washington, DC
Typographer: Clown: Jennifer Arnold, Washington, DC
Circus Wagon: Brad Thompson
Artist: Circus Wagon: Susan Sanford, Front Royal, VA
Modeler: Donald Woo
Manufacturing Process: Intaglio, Offset, Microprint *Microprint only on Circus Clown
Printer: Banknote Corporation of America/SSP
Printed at: Browns Summit, NC
Press Type: Alprinta (offset), Phoenix (Intaglio)
Stamps per Pane: 3
Print Quantity: 900 thousand stamps
Paper Type: Phosphor Tagged, Block on Circus Clown: no phosphor on Circus Wagon
Adhesive Type: PSA
Processed at: Banknote Corporation of America, Browns Summit SC
Colors: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black (Offset), PMS 179 Red (Intaglio)
Stamp Orientation: Horizontal, Vertical
Image Area (w x h): Clown 2.27 x 1.81 in./57.62 x 45.97 mm
Circus Wagon 0.73 x 0.84 in./18.54 x 21.34 mm
Overall Size (w x h): Clown 2.42 x 1.96 in./61.51 x 49.78 mm
Circus Wagon 0.87 x 0.98 in./22.10 x 24.89 mm
Full Pane Size (w x h): 4.97 x 3.38 in./126.24 x 85.74 mm
Press Sheets Size (w x h): 11.00 x 24.5 in./ 279.40 x 622.30 mm
Plate Size: 36 stamps per revolution
Plate Numbers: N/A
Marginal Markings: © 2014 USPS • USPS logo • Plate position diagram • UPC Code

October 10th update: The first day covers will read December 10, 2014, and Baraboo, WI 53913. There will not be an event (not surpringly).

It will only be available with the 2014 Stamp Yearbook. Borrowing idea from Australia Post. Had some art remaining from the Circus Posters series. Will feature two Circus Wagon Transportation Series stamps, which were “05” but will be denominated as 50¢.

Journalists say it’s going to be panned by philatelists. I said that all but cuts out FDC production.

It will have a first day of issue, with Digital Color Postmark.

Preorders begin September 1st. USPS-produced FDCs will be priced as usual – face + usual amount.

20 thoughts on “Vintage Circus Posters souvenir sheet

  1. Your description of this issue is confusing. Do you mean there will be a souvenir sheet with only two 50c stamps in it? And they will be reproductions of two stamps previously released as 5c stamps? Do I also understand that the USPS will sell FDOI’s of this issue on uncacheted envelopes? If so that would appear to be unfair competition, etc. It would be something I would argue with Susan McGowan about. If they are allowed to do that then the USPS should make the stamps available to cachetmakers w/o the purchase of the yearbook.

  2. The mockup we saw was a circus poster on the left, and two Circus Wagon stamps from 1990 on the right, one above the other. The mockup had the “05” denomination (5 cents) but we are told the new denomination for each will be 50 cents, for a total of $1. There was also something there being two of these souvenir sheets in each Yearbook package….but I wasn’t clear on that.

    I agree with you about unfair, especially since the cachets for which I produce FDCs are on cards: I can’t buy uncacheted serviced FDCs from the USPS and make them into 5×7 cards. We were told that, if you want FDCs of this issue, your choices will be to buy the complete yearbook package and extract these stamps, or buy the uncacheted FDCs from the USPS.

    Scott catalogues are unlikely to assign a number to these, because they are not being sold for postal use (even though they can be used for mailing). This would be similar to how Scott is treating the Jenny “Unverts” that are only available in what is essentially a lottery.

  3. In addition to “unfair” I question whether it is legal for the USPS to offer these covers where the stamps are not “readily” available to cachetmakers to service first day covers. Making them available ONLY in annual sets is not “readily” available.


  4. Well, they could have made a lottery out of it by including “inverted” stamps in a few of the souvenir sheets. Buy a yearbook and get a chance to reap thousands on the aftermarket! I can’t believe the marketing wizards at USPS missed this one.

  5. This earlier answer was wrong, as I indicate below. I have also updated the main entry for this issue.

      As far as I know, you CAN do that. I’m sure the USPS would love to sell more press sheets. But I don’t think the sheets will be die cut (that is, will pop off the backing sheet in the non-rectangular format). I’ve got a photo of that, which I’ll post above in a moment.
    • I thought, the way I read it, is that you can remove individual sheets from the press sheet, just that the stamps on the press sheets will not have diecuts… you would have to cut those off the individual sheet after you remove it from the press sheet (or, obviously, cut the stamps out of the little sheets without removing everything else off the press sheet.
      Guess we will have to see !
      I printed up the single sheet on a “picture postcard” to announce my new cachet line, Golden Gnome Cachets, for covers, etc. related to the famous Catholic university located at South Bend, IN. I have not yet plans for the first cover/card in that cachet line, however.

      • And I was incorrect: The souvenir sheets on each press sheet ARE diecut and removable, so in effect, if you’re willing to buy them in units of 12, you can buy these souvenir sheets without buying the yearbook, and for much less for 12 souvenir sheets than one yearbook.

        It doesn’t make much sense to allow FDC collectors a backdoor like this, unless the whole idea was to get us talking about this souvenir sheet. Hmmmmmm.

  6. I did buy a press sheet but I will probably by a yearbook because the circus sheets are different in each one…the one in the yearbook has die-cuts around the stamps,the press sheet circus sheets do not.

  7. John is right! As a collector not a dealer, I have all 2014 stamps, but I have to send $64 for the yearbook in order to get one 1x $2 + 2x 50c die cut type souvenir sheet which is terrible. On ebay, some one would sell U that type for over $50+. Don’t know why USPS doing that? Make market more hot? Have you guy noticed: For “winter fun” bklt, USPS never put ATM bklt on the internet & cataloger as usually. I called them to ask: Is ATM bklt no longer sell from the store but only from the machine? The answer was: No. But when I give them the item# from their website, they couldn’t find it and know the # is listed on their web. I called them several times, finally they admitted there is mistake of the item # and located me one set. But, till today, I still haven’t seen they put that correct item # for ATM type “winter fun” on the newly cataloger or their web. They need improve their service really!

  8. If you can buy them in the press sheet and use them to mail something, why wouldn’t they have a Scott Catalogue number? Further, if anyone has actually found a Jenny unvert, why wouldn’t that have a SCN? I can understand not having numbers for pins, cards that haven’t any postage, and other marketing items the USPS sells that aren’t actually postage or BOB, but won’t these issues eventually HAVE to have a SCN?

  9. SKU:588700 IS A PRESS SHEET OF 12 SOUVENIR SHEET. The Vintage Circus Posters souvenir sheet in the yearbook is perforated – sku:588700 is imperforated.

  10. The 2017 Scotts Specialized has the minor LETTER designation different than what you have here.

    (b) is the Imperf block of 8 or Pane of 16
    (c) is the Imperf souvenir sheet of 3
    (d) is the imperf 50c circus wagon stamp
    (e) is the 1$ Clown stamp, and
    (f) is the same as c but with the gold color being omitted.

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