32¢ Department of the Air Force
Issue Date: September 18, 1997
City: Washington, DC
Printed By: Sterling Sommer for Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed
Perforations: 11.2 x 11.1
The youngest branch of the U.S. armed forces, the Air Force was originally developed as an aeronautical division of the Army Signal Corps in 1907. The following year the Army purchased its first plane, and in 1911 Congress appropriated funds for aviation. Control passed to the aviation division in 1914.
In 1926 Congress established the U.S. Army Air Corps, which was later renamed the Army Air Forces. During World War II air operations became increasingly independent of the Army. Some felt that to be most effective, air units needed to operate separately from ground units, allowing airpower to be concentrated where it was needed most. Finally on September 18, 1947, President Harry Truman signed the National Security Act that ended a 40-year association with the U.S. Army and created the U.S. Air Force.
With its headquarters in the Pentagon, the Department of the Air Force is organized in eight major commands throughout the world. In addition to carrying out fighting assignments, the Air Force provides airlift, refueling, reconnaissance, and other support to the Unified Combatant Commands.
Celebrating the establishment of the U.S. Air Force as a separate military unit, this stamp also honors the men and women who have protected our country and preserved our freedom.
First U.S. Stamp With Scrambled Indicia
On September 18, 1997, the USPS issued the U.S. Air Force stamp, the first U.S. stamp to have a hidden image using Scrambled Indicia.
Over the years, the USPS had always sought ways to combat counterfeiting, with grills being one of the earliest examples. As technologies changed, they found new, more advanced ways to do this, including microprinting and tagging. Then in 1997, they introduced Scrambled Indicia.
Scrambled Indicia is a pre-press process invented by Graphic Security Systems Corporation. According to the company, it “scrambles, distorts, intertwines, overlaps, or otherwise manipulates images making encoded information on them unreadable by the naked eye, and non-copyable by current color copiers and digital scanners.” These images could then be viewed using a special decoder. In addition to thwarting counterfeiting, the USPS also hoped this interesting new technology could help arouse interest among collectors and inspire new ones.
Between 1997 and 2004 the USPS produced more than 40 stamps with Scrambled Indicia:
Click here to view the “decoded” stamps.
Click here to get your own decoder to see these neat hidden images in person.