2012 45¢ MLB All-Stars
The great poet Walt Whitman is widely credited with saying, “I see great things in baseball. It’s our game – the American game.” Whitman’s prediction proved true, as America’s love of baseball turned it into the national pastime.
Now, our love affair is so deep that the game’s biggest stars can rise to become national heroes. In 2012, the U.S. Postal Service honored four players whose drive for greatness transcended feats of skill.
Joe DiMaggio became a national hero through his seemingly effortless ability and storybook romance with Marilyn Monroe. Ted Williams said, “When I walk down the street, I want people to say ‘There goes the greatest hitter who ever lived.’” Many fans and historians think he succeeded.
Willie Stargell played 21 years for the Pittsburgh Pirates in a career highlighted by mammoth home runs. As the second black player in the Major Leagues (and the first in the American League) Larry Doby faced the same obstacles as Jackie Robinson. But “the media didn’t want to tell the same story twice,” Doby said. He excelled with grace and dignity.
These All-Stars, each of them Hall of Famers, found their way into baseball immortality by different paths. With every base hit and home run, they created their own legends.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum was the site for the first of five First Day Ceremonies for this set of four stamps honoring some of baseball’s greatest players. Ceremonies took place in each of the cities where the players spent their careers. Stamps were also issued as separate sheets for each athlete. Imperforate sheets were issued for a single All-Star pane picturing all four baseball greats and four individual panes, each showing one player. Kadir Nelson of Los Angeles created the art for the stamps, based on historic photographs.
Value: 45¢ 1-ounce first-class letter rate
Issued: July 20, 2012
First Day City: Cooperstown, NY – National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
Type of Stamp: Commemorative
Printed By: Avery Dennison
Printing Method: Photogravure
On July 20, 2012, the USPS issued the first of several modern stamps in imperforate press sheets, which caused quite a stir in the stamp world!
The US Post Office has issued imperforate uncut press sheets in the past. In 1902, some stamps were sold in this format to commercial users of stamp vending and affixing machines. When collectors found out, they demanded the stamps be made available to them to, and they were.
One of the most famous stories of uncut press sheets is the Farley’s Follies of the 1930s. When Postmaster General James A. Farley gave imperforate ungummed sheets to friends and the public heard about it, there was an uproar. In response, the Post Office re-issued all of the stamps he had gifted as uncut sheets. You can read the full story here.
Beginning in 1994 with the Legends of the West sheet, the USPS began issuing uncut press sheets specifically for collectors, though these sheets did have perforations.
Then on July 20, 2012, the USPS issued the Major League Baseball All-Stars stamps. A limited number of these stamps were released as press sheets with die cut perforations. To the surprise of many collectors, officials then issued a small number of press sheets without perforations.
The uncut sheets were only available in Kansas City, Missouri, yet most sold out immediately. In an instant, the imperforate stamp sheets became modern rarities. For example, only 75,000 Baseball All-Star se-tenant sheets were issued compared to 118,000 Bugs Bunny sheets with the 10th stamp imperforate.
In a controversial move, the editors of Scott Catalogue announced they would not list or give numbers to these stamps because they did not fit Scott guidelines. This decision was strongly debated since the imperforate stamps are valid for postage. Two years later, Scott reversed its decision and assigned minor catalogue numbers to these stamps.
In 2013, imperforate press sheets continued to be made available to the public. Collectors began cutting up the sheets and using individual stamps as postage, creating a new demand for used imperforate examples.
The USPS continued to issue select stamps in imperforate uncut press sheets through 2016. The last one was the Chinese New Year stamp, issued on February 5, 2016. The USPS was relatively silent on the issue of new uncut imperforate press sheets for some time, but eventually said they didn’t plan to issue any more at the time, but might consider it in the future.
Imperforate-Between and Imperforate-Within Stamps
In an interesting turn of events, some stamp booklets issued between 2016 and 2019 were sold in full uncut sheets with some stamps partially imperforate. Press sheets of sheet stamps don’t have these imperforate varieties – only booklet press sheets do. When these sheets are finished into booklets, the booklets are cut apart. But on unfinished press sheets the booklets remain attached. This makes some stamp blocks and pairs horizontally or vertically imperforate between – where the cut would have been made between two different booklets.
Unfinished press sheets also include some even scarcer varieties – blocks of four stamps imperforate both horizontally and vertically within having perforations appearing only around the outside of the block. These blocks contain stamps from four different booklets. These stamps went unnoticed for some time and only the USPS knows exactly how many were produced.
Click here for all the individual imperforate stamps.