This is a story about the United States Postal Service being the good guys while doing a good job of responding to the needs of its customers.
The Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps & Covers includes a section on Booklets: Panes & Covers and in that listing you will find a listing for MAKESHIFT VENDING MACHINE BOOKLETS. While the editors of the Scott Catalog initially refused to include these “jury rigged” booklets, the booklets are now included with major Scott Catalog Numbers.
Beginning in 1995, the USPS contracted with MDI, a nonprofit social service organization based in Minnesota, to fabricate vending booklets to meet an early public demand. The stamp stock for these vending size booklets were taken from sheets and panes of both water-activated and self-adhesive definitive and commemorative stamps. The stamps were mounted between white card stock covers printed in blue, and thus the origin of these booklets became known as the “blues.”
The first booklets that were produced – Scott Numbers BK178A-BK178F – included the #2492 pink rose. Produced as booklets of 20 in a fold-it-yourself format, the panes were modified to panes of 15-label, 14 and 16 to accommodate the vending booklet format.
Later productions of the “blues” by MDI include The Georgia O’Keefe issue, James Dean, Rural Free Delivery, Endangered Species, Indian Dances and other popular issues of the 1990s. The final additions to the series are #BK277 and #BK278 using the American Glass and Famous Trains panes for stock.
The “blue” covers are the unique characteristic of the series. There are two different outside front covers. Type I was only used on the early 32¢ Pink Rose booklets [BK178A, 178B, and combo 178E]. Some of these booklets were wrapped in cellophane rather than being taped shut. The Type I cover can be distinguished by a much narrower white band and the viewing portal is a bit lower.
On the backside of the covers there are four varieties. The booklets with the Type I front cover have no writing in the white section of the outside back cover; instead, a label listing product information was attached to the outside of the cellophane wrapper.
Subsequent booklets produced with the Type II front covers have one of three different outside back covers, Types II, II-a, and III. The only distinguishing feature between Type II and Type II-a is “Item No.” and “Item #.” Type III is distinguished by a UPC bar code, a different location of the circular “10% Post-Consumer Waste” label, and a different ordering of the product information.
Where did these unique booklets come from? This is the good part, the part about the Post Office doing well.
The Michigan Dyslexia Institute, Inc. (MDI) was established as a nonprofit educational organization in October 1982 to serve the more than one-half million children and adults with dyslexia in the state. In a very short span of time, MDI emerged as a unique resource and significant educational force in Michigan and in the country.
Today, most of MDIs business comes from the U.S. Postal Service which has been utilizing the HDPE laminated corrugated plastic totes to transport mail for more than a dozen years. These are the plastic open-top carrier boxes that we all use when we have large amounts of mail to take to and from the Post Office.
On iHobb.com we list the full production of “blues” by Scott Number and keep them in stock as best we can, as some are scarce and each is a sought-after item.