The Varieties of
United States 2c Navajo Jewelry Stamp


United States Scott 3750 United States Scott 3751 United States Scott 3752

United States
Scott 3750
(formerly Scott 3749)

United States
Scott 3751
(formerly Scott 3749A)

United States
Scott 3752
(formerly Scott 3749B)

The United States 2-cent Navajo Jewelry stamp (Scott 3750-3), is a postage stamp that under ordinary circumstances would have been largely ignored by the vast majority of United States Postal Service customers. However, something happened in early 2006 that raised awareness of the Navajo Jewelry stamp to nearly everyone in the United States who mailed first class letters. On January 8, 2006, the USPS raised the rate for mailing a 1-ounce, first class letter from 37 cents to 39 cents. People with a supply of unused 37-cent stamps immediately descended upon their local post office in search of 2-cent "make-up" stamps that would allow them to use their 37 cent stamps.

At the time of the January 2006 postal rate increase, a 2-cent Navajo Jewelry stamp, originally issued on August 20, 2004, was the most commonly available "make-up" stamp at post offices. Realizing that the current supply of 2-cent stamps was insufficient to satisfy the anticipated need for "make-up" stamps, the Postal Service ordered a printing of additional stamps. These reprints were issued on December 8, 2005 — over one year from the date of release of the original stamp. To ensure that sufficient stamps would be on hand in time for the January 8, 2006 postal rate increase, the USPS contracted with two different printers to produce the additional stamps. Combined with the original August 2004 printing, the two December 2005 printings meant that three varieties of the 2-cent Navajo Jewelry stamps were available to stamp collectors. The Scott Catalogue assigned the numbers 3749, 3749A, and 3749B to the three varieties.

A little more than a year later, on May 14, 2007, the USPS raised the rate for mailing a 1-ounce, first class letter from 39 cents to 41 cents and, in response to the renewed need for 2-cent "make-up" stamps, ordered a fourth printing of the 2-cent Navajo Jewelry stamp. The Scott editors took this opportunity to renumber the previously-issued Navajo Jewelry stamps. Scott 3749 became 3750, Scott 3749A became 3751, and Scott 3749B became 3752. The fourth version of the stamp, issued May 12, 2007, was assigned the catalog number 3753.

Enlarged scans of the three varieties of the 2-cent Navajo Jewelry postage stamp appear at the top of this page. Superficially, the three varieties appear identical; however, a number of distinct differences among the varieties make them almost trivial to distinguish. The paragraphs below describe and illustrate these differences:


TOPICAL DESCRIPTION OF THE NAVAJO JEWELRY STAMP

The 2-cent Navajo Jewelry postage stamp features a detail of a popular style of silver and turquoise necklace termed a "squash blossom necklace." Typically, a squash blossom necklace consists of silver beads that resemble stylized blossoms and a central, crescent-shaped pendant. Squash blossom necklaces can be made of silver only or of silver with turquoise (as illustrated on the stamp) or silver with coral.

The squash blossom design itself is based upon a Spanish-Mexican trouser ornament that was a stylized representation of a pomegranate blossom; however, the name for this type of necklace has nothing to do with either squash or pomegranate blossoms. The term "squash-blossom" simply means "round beads that spread out" — a term that is descriptive of the jewelry style. The crescent-shaped pendant, termed a "názhah" or "naja" (which means "curve" in the Navajo language), is believed to be based on Spanish colonial bridle ornaments which, in turn, were based upon a Moorish crescent design.

The technique used to make many items of Navajo jewelry, including the squash blossom necklace illustrated on the stamp, is known as sand-casting. In sand-casting, a mold is constructed out of two pieces clay or highly-compacted sand which fit together to form a block. A design is either carved directly into the mold or the blank mold is compressed around a model of the object to be cast. The two pieces of the mold are then fitted together and molten silver is poured into the cavity. After the silver has solidified and cooled, the cast item is removed from the mold. Extraneous bits of silver are removed from the cast item by trimming and filing. The cast item is then polished, fitted with polished stones, and assembled into the final piece of jewelry.

According to the descriptive USPS press release, the particular necklace illustrated on the stamp is believed to have been made during the 1940s or 1950s and is owned by a private collector. The necklace illustration for the stamp was painted by artist Lou Nolan from a photograph by Peter T. Furst, under the direction of Derry Noyes.


PANE DESCRIPTION

Each of the three varieties of the 2-cent Navajo Jewelry stamp was issued in the form of a pane of 20 identical stamps, arranged in four rows of five stamps, with surrounding selvage. The stamps are of the pressure-sensitive, self-adhesive type, and are affixed to a coated backing sheet. Individual stamps are separated by die-cut "perforations." The illustration below shows the layout of a pane of Navajo Jewelry stamps.

Various items of information are present in the selvage of the pane. These items are identified by colored outlines on the illustration above. The four instances of plate number on each pane are identified by a green outline, the copyright date is identified by a red outline, and the plate position diagram is identified by a blue outline. Although the locations of the identified items are the same for each of the three varieties of the Navajo Jewelry stamp, the content of the items differ among the three varieties. These differences are described in the following sections.


ISSUE DATE DIFFERENCES

The most obvious indication on the face of the stamp that can be used to distinguish the original issue (Scott 3750) from the reprints (Scott 3751 and 3752) is the issue date, which is printed in the lower left corner of each stamp. The original issue displays an issue date of 2004. The reprints both show an issue date of 2006. The issue date should not be confused with the copyright date, which appears in the selvage of the stamp and which is 2004 for all three varieties of the stamp. The images below show enlarged portions of the issue date, as well as the copyright date, of the three varieties of the stamp.

United States Scott 3750 United States Scott 3751 United States Scott 3752

United States
Scott 3750

United States
Scott 3751

United States
Scott 3752

It should be noted that the issue date printed on the reprint stamps is 2006 despite the fact that the reprints were actually issued on December 8, 2005. The probable reason for this discrepancy is that the USPS wanted to get the "make-up" stamps in the hands of their customers well in advance of the actual postal rate change, which occurred on January 8, 2006. It can also be seen that the size of the "2006" issue date is slightly larger on 3751 than it is on 3752, a minor indicator of the difference between the two reprint varieties. Additionally, the distance between the "4" in the 2004 copyright date and the left edge of the stamp is smaller on 3751 than it is on 3752.

The presence of "2004" in lower-left corner of the stamp is sufficient to distinguish United States Scott 3750 from the two reprint varieties, Scott 3751 and Scott 3752.


MICROPRINTING DIFFERENCES

Of the three varieties of 2-cent Navajo Jewelry stamps, one variety contains microprinted text. United States Scott 3752 contains the microprinted characters "USPS" on one of the squash blossom tendrils located in the upper-right quadrant of the stamp. The leftmost image below shows the location of the microprinting on the stamp. The other stamp images, scanned at 24x magnification, show the area of interest on each of the three varieties of the stamp.

United States Scott 3750 United States Scott 3751 United States Scott 3752

Microprinting Location
(green box)

United States
Scott 3750

United States
Scott 3751

United States
Scott 3752

To the unaided eye, the microprinted text on Scott 3752 appears as a miniscule line in the squash blossom tendril; however, the microprinted "USPS" text can be seen with the aid of a 5-10x magnifying lens.

The presence of the microprinted "USPS" in the upper-right quadrant of the stamp is sufficient to distinguish United States Scott 3752 from the original variety (Scott 3750) and the other reprint variety (Scott 3751).


PERFORATION DIFFERENCES

The die-cut lines which serve to take the place of perforations between individual stamps are different among the three varieties of 2-cent Navajo Jewelry stamps. These "perforation" differences are observable both in the corner geometry of the stamps and in the number of perforation peaks and valleys (which is closely associated with the perforation gauge) along the horizontal and vertical edges of the stamps.

The images below show the magnified corner geometry of the three varieties of Navajo Jewelry stamps. As can be seen, the die-cut edges of Scott 3750 (the original version of the stamp) initially strike horizontally and vertically from the corner. The die-cut edges of the Scott 3751 and 3752 (the reprint varieties) initially strike upward or downward from the horizontal and to the right or left of vertical from the corner of the stamp. This difference in corner geometry serves to distinguish Scott 3750 from Scott 3751 and 3752. (Note, in the images for Scott 3751 and 3752, the top die-cut edge starts out upward (a peak) for 3751 and downward (a valley) for 3752. Similarly, the left die-cut edge starts out inward (a valley) for 3751 and outward (a peak) for 3752. This peak-valley / valley-peak inversion is merely a characteristic of the stamps used in the examples. The inversion shown in the examples does not necessarily apply to other instances of 3751 and 3752.)

United States Scott 3750 United States Scott 3751 United States Scott 3752

United States
Scott 3750

United States
Scott 3751

United States
Scott 3752

The number of die-cut perforation "peaks" along the top and side edges of the 2-cent Navajo Jewelry stamp makes the three varieties of the stamp very easy to identify. Please refer to the annotated images of the three stamp varieties below. The original variety of the stamp (Scott 3750) has 10 perforation peaks along the top and bottom edges of the stamp, whereas the two reprint varieties (Scott 3751 and 3752) both have 12 perforation peaks along the top and bottom edges. Examining the left and right edges of the stamps, each variety of stamp has a different number of perforation peaks — 12 (Scott 3750), 14 (Scott 3751), and 13 (Scott 3752). A count of the number of perforation peaks along the left or right edge of a candidate stamp is sufficient, in of itself, to conclusively identify the variety of the stamp.

  10   12   12
    12      14      13 
 
United States
Scott 3750
 
United States
Scott 3751
 
United States
Scott 3752


PLATE POSITION AND PLATE NUMBER DIFFERENCES

Each of the three varieties of the 2-cent Navajo Jewelry stamp was produced by a different printer. This fact, when accompanied by a full pane of stamps, makes identification of the three varieties trivial. The images of the plate position diagram and the plate number below show the very distinct differences among the three varieties.

United States
Scott 3750
United States Scott 3750
United States
Scott 3751
United States Scott 3751
United States
Scott 3752
United States Scott 3752

Scott 3750, the original version of the stamp, was printed by Avery-Dennison in sheets of 14 panes of 20 stamps each. The 14 panes on each sheet were arranged in 2 rows of 7 panes as shown in the plate position diagram. Further, Avery-Dennison uses the identifying letter "V" as the first character of the plate number.

Scott 3751, the first reprint version of the stamp, was printed by American Packaging Corporation for Sennett Security Products in sheets of 12 panes of 20 stamps each. The 12 panes on each sheet were arranged in 4 rows of 3 panes as shown in the plate position diagram. Sennett Security Products uses the identifying letter "S" as the first character of the plate number in the stamps that it prints.

Scott 3752, the second reprint version of the stamp, was printed by Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd in sheets of 6 panes of 20 stamps each. The 6 panes on each sheet were arranged in 2 rows of 3 panes as shown in the plate position diagram. Ashton-Potter uses the letter "P" as the first character of the plate number to identify the stamps that it prints.


BARCODE DIFFERENCES

It is possible to distinguish the three varieties of the 2-cent Navajo Jewelry stamp without even looking at the front of a pane of the stamps! The back of a pane of stamps contains barcodes that identify the USPS product number (107200) of the Navajo Jewelry stamps. The barcodes differ in both orientation and size among the three varieties.

Images of the backs of panes of the three varieties of stamps, below, show a significant difference in the orientation of the barcodes on the original variety compared to the two reprint varieties. On Scott 3750, the original version of the stamp, the barcodes are positioned adjacent and parallel to each of the four edges of the backing paper. On Scott 3751 and 3752, the reprint varieties, two barcodes are positioned adjacent and parallel to the left edge of the backing paper, and two barcodes are positioned adjacent and parallel to the right edge of the backing paper.

United States Scott 3750

United States
Scott 3750

United States Scott 3751 United States Scott 3752

United States
Scott 3751

United States
Scott 3752

Examining the individual barcodes, it can be seen that the aspect ratio (the ratio of the barcode's height to its width) differs among the three varieties of Navajo Jewelry stamp:

United States Scott 3750 United States Scott 3751 United States Scott 3752

United States
Scott 3750

United States
Scott 3751

United States
Scott 3752

The barcode for Scott 3750, the original version of the stamp, can be described as tall and wide; the barcode for Scott 3751, the first of the two reprint versions, can be described as short and wide; and the barcode for Scott 3752 can be described as tall and narrow.

Lastly, a further distinguishing characteristic of Scott 3752 is the presence of a bottom serif on the number "1" in the product number directly beneath the barcode. A bottom serif is not present on the "1" on either Scott 3750 or 3751.


DIE-CUT DIFFERENCES

The coated backing paper to which the 2-cent Navajo Jewelry stamps are affixed contains a serpentine pattern of die-cut slits which are used to ease removal of the stamps from the backing paper. These die-cut slits differ among the three varieties of the stamp and can be used to distinguish the varieties.

The images below show one pane of each of the three varieties of 2-cent Navajo Jewelry stamp with some of the stamps removed. The partial removal of the stamps allows the die-cut slits in the backing paper to be viewed with respect to the orientation and positioning of the stamps on the pane. On Scott 3750 (the original version of the stamp) and Scott 3752 (the second of the two reprints), the die-cut slits in the backing paper run vertically, from top to bottom, through the center of each stamp. On Scott 3751 (the first reprint variety), the die-cut slits in the backing paper run horizontally, from side to side, through the center of each stamp. Closer examination of the vertical die-cut slits on Scott 3750 and 3752 also reveals a difference in amplitude, or "waviness," between the two varieties of stamp. Scott 3750 exhibits a lesser amount of waviness in the die-cut slits than does Scott 3752. Further, the die-cut slits are discontinuous across stamp boundaries in Scott 3750; the slits are continuous in Scott 3752.

United States Scott 3750

United States
Scott 3750

United States Scott 3751 United States Scott 3752

United States
Scott 3751

United States
Scott 3752


SUMMARY OF DIFFERENCES

Upon cursory examination, the three varieties of United States 2-cent Navajo Jewelry stamp appear identical; however, numerous significant differences among the three varieties make the varieties very easy to distinguish. Presented below, in tabular form, is a summary of the differences among the three varieties of the stamp.

Attribute Scott 3750
(formerly 3749)
Scott 3751
(formerly 3749A)
Scott 3752
(formerly 3749B)
Issue Date (USPS) 20 August 2004 8 December 2005 8 December 2005
USPS Product Number 107200 107200 107200
Issue Date (on face of stamp; lower-left corner) 2004 2006 2006
Copyright Date (in left margin of pane) 2004 2004 2004
Stamps Per Pane 20 20 20
Microprinting None None "USPS" in upper-right quadrant of stamp
"Perforation" Corner Geometry Square Angled Angled
"Perforation" Peak Count (Top x Side) 10 x 12 12 x 14 12 x 13
Plate Position Diagram (Rows x Columns) 2 x 7 4 x 3 2 x 3
Plate Numbers Per Pane 4 4 4
First Character of Plate Number V S P
Printer Avery-Dennison American Packaging Corporation
for Sennett Security Products
Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Number of Barcodes on Back of Pane 4 4 4
Barcode Positioning on Back of Pane Adjacent to all 4 edges of pane Adjacent to 2 side edges of pane Adjacent to 2 side edges of pane
Individual Barcode Aspect Ratio Tall and Wide Short and Wide Tall and Narrow
Bottom Serif on "1" Beneath Barcode No No Yes
Orientation of Die-Cut Slits on Backing Paper Vertical Horizontal Vertical
Amplitude ("Waviness") of Die-Cut Slits on Backing Paper Small Medium Large
Continuity of Die-Cut Slits on Backing Paper Discontinuous Continuous Continuous



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