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Does a new flag stamp have too many stripes?

CROPPED set of four flag stamps

From the U.S. Postal Service:

On April 18, 2008, in Washington, DC, the Postal Service™ issued 42–cent, definitive stamps, Flags 24/7, in four designs. The stamps, designed by Phil Jordan of Falls Church, Virginia, each feature a painting by Laura Stutzman of Mountain Lake Park, Maryland, of an American flag flying at a different time of day: sunrise, noon, sunset, and night.

In 1942, Congress passed a resolution establishing a code of flag etiquette. The code states in part that the American flag should be displayed from sunrise to sunset every day, weather permitting, but especially on days of national importance like Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, and Veterans Day. Congress also decided that “when a patriotic effect is desired,” the flag can be flown through the night if properly lit. Although compliance is voluntary, public observation of the code’s measures is widespread throughout the nation.

I am moderately interested in stamps, and I even save them, though I do not collect them. I save them for my granddaughter (or other relatives), in the event that one of them decides to collect stamps one day. I have considered the idea of collecting stamps that have the image of the U.S. flag, and state flags, but that’s a story for another day.

cropped night flag 200 percent enlarged Today’s story is about a sharp-eyed stamp collector who found a mistake on the new U.S. flag stamps issued on April 18 of this year. The night stamp, shown in the bottom right corner of the stamp quartet, appears to have too many stripes.

Dang! Don’t you hate it when that happens.

The U.S. flag  has a red stripe on the top edge, and a red stripe on the bottom edge. The blue field always rests on a white stripe. Seven red stripes, and six white stripes, for the thirteen original colonies. The image on the flag in question appears to have a bottom white stripe.

The Postal Service is aware of the mistake, but will not change the design. These flag stamps—Flags 24/7—are called "definitive" stamps, and used for standard, ordinary, day-to-day mail. When the inevitable price increase comes, new stamps will be designed.

According to stamp services authorities, the seventh white stripe as added to provide definition to the image, and was not a part of the original art work, which seems to exonerate the artist.

That’s a weak and clumsy explanation, and unnecessary. Because I can’t tell how many stripes are hidden in the fold, and I am willing to grant artistic license when it comes to painting the image of a waving flag.

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