Farmers Market "Forever Stamp" - Image from US Postal Service.

The Myth of the Forever Stamp

Rosa Parks "forever" stamp; image published by United States Postal Service at https://www.usps.com/stamp-collecting/assets/images/470404-01-main-695x900.jpg
United States Postal Service “forever” stamp featuring Rosa Parks

Most people appreciated when the United States Postal Service started marketing the “pricelessForever Stamp in 1997. This was a great “do the right thing” moment, tacitly acknowledging that if you don’t use a stamp for a year or five, the Postal Service has still had the use of your money for that time and shouldn’t charge you extra to use it. It seems only fair that a First Class stamp should always cover the postage for a First Class letter.

The compromise was that the Forever stamp was usually pretty generic, such as the American flag stamp. If you wanted a commemorative stamp (such as a Christmas stamp, or one that featured someone important to American culture, such as Rosa Parks), it was going to depreciate like any other stamp.

Update from a USPS Forever Stamp Fact Sheet: “In 2011, all first-class one ounce stamps became forever stamps”. I.E.: Commemoratives were added to the Forever Stamp program in 2011.

When is a Forever Stamp not a Forever Stamp?

Poinsettia "forever" stamp from https://www.usps.com/stamp-collecting/assets/images/688604-01-main-695x900.jpg
USPS “forever” stamp depicting a poinsettia plant

What Is A Forever Stamp? states that “some first-class stamps now have the word Forever written on them and then crossed out. These are regular stamps, not forever stamps. They have the year they were released printed on them and when postage rates increase, you will have to refer back to the postage rate for that year, calculate the difference yourself, and start licking those one cent stamps.”

These new slash-Forever stamps sounded like a step backward in that the face value isn’t even on the face (the front of the stamp). Arguably these would be a new type of online postage because you need to go online just to figure out what they’re worth!

Of course just because you read something on social media or the Internet doesn’t necessarily mean it’s so, and I haven’t seen any authoritative sources that share this idea. Moreover, I remember seeing reproductions of denominated stamps that had a slash through the value, so the “slash forever stamps” may not actually exist. I’m skeptical.

What do You Think?

Have you seen one? Is it a myth that some Forever Stamps have a slash across the word Forever and don’t retain their value, or is it a myth that it’s a myth?  😉

Update – USPS provided the following clarification:

Stamps shown at the Postal Store and in our USA Philatelic catalog are for illustrative purposes only. The strike through the word FOREVER is to ensure that the illustration cannot be used as a stamp through technical reproductive means. Any stamps you purchase will not have a strike through the word FOREVER and are honored as postage on all items mailed in the United States.

38 thoughts on “The Myth of the Forever Stamp”

    1. Forever stamps are real. I’m still skeptical about whether “slash-Forever” stamps are for real. However, I didn’t receive a response yet from the USPS, so the myth remains.

      1. The slash is on the printed image of stamps in the catalog. That was intended to keep people from cutting out image to use as stamp on mail or to easily reprint counterfeit ones. Your story is a made-up myth.

        1. Renise, I appreciate your comment. I thought the same as you about the slashes until I started to hear that the “slash forever stamps” were different. I had included a link to the site I quoted from, but the link was broken. I just repaired that link, as well as updating one from USPS.

          That page I quoted from is still out there, and it’s still not clear whether they misinterpreted how the value of these stamps is calculated, or they are intentionally misleading people. Thanks again for your comments.

      2. I came across the same thing with the slash through the forever. Are you still waiting on a response from the post office. I’m curious.

      3. The USPS has responded- the slash doesn’t exist on the stamp, only on photos of the stamps put up online so that a photo can’t be used to make a counterfeit.

    1. I know it’s been years since you posted this but I need to use a stamp and didn’t know how much. I still don’t know. Is it ok to use a forever stamp. Actually the reason I’m posting to you is I thought your comment was very funny😂😂😂. Happy New Year

      1. Yes Patricia, you can still use a forever stamp. 🙂 If you don’t happen to have one, you can use $0.55 in whatever stamps you have on hand.
        FYI: The USPS First Class Mail letter (1 oz.) rate for postage purchased at the Post Office in 2020 is 55 cents (no change from 2019).

  1. I’ve only seen this in pictures of stamps – not on actual stamps. I think it’s more likely that the “Forever” is crossed out in pictures and photos so someone can’t print out the image and use it as a stamp – similar to the watermark on a copyrighted photo.

  2. I think it would cost a bit more than 49 cents to forge a forever stamp, wouldn’t it? I mean, the scanner, the printer, the inks, the serrated edge – not worth the time alone.

    1. You make a good point Steve: Counterfeiting stamps would be like counterfeiting pennies – The pain is likely greater than the gain. That said, some folks don’t seem to do the math before they do the crime.

  3. That’s hilarious. If someone were to reproduce a stamp via a digital image… does the USPS not think that they could just as easily photoshop the slash out?

    I have no skill or experience in image editing at all, and I could clean that out in minutes on a paint program…

    It’s a security measure that would stop literally nobody.

    Anyway, what kind of criminal makes a living off forged postage stamps?

    1. Great points Valchrist. Forging postage stamps is probably not a great way to make a living, regardless of the level of technical skill required to do so.

  4. Would not the easiest method be to photocopy a full sheet of real stamps onto a self adhesive sheet then no slash …
    How Stupid ! I think they should have put a cancellation mark on it and not a slash thru forever in red making it seem like a no smoking sign … IE USA , Not forever ? There is no common sense any more

    1. Actually, I don’t believe you could simply photocopy a sheet of stamps. Anti-counterfeiting measures like UV inks and calibrated perforations would make them detectable – if anyone checked. As for there not being common sense anymore… that will be another blog.

  5. The stamp actually says USA FOREVER. With the word forever crossed out it indicates the end of the U.S. This is an affront to every U.S. citizen. We do not consider our country as temporary.

  6. First Class Forever postage stamps really are “forever;” that is, they have been promised to remain valid as first class postage for a standard letter indefinitely so long as the USPS is operating.
    I have never seen a Forever Stamp with a cross out. However, electronic representations online, typically show the strike through the word FOREVER in effort ensure that the illustration cannot be used as a stamp through technical reproductive means.
    First Class Forever stamps are rather generic and have limited selection. Commemorative stamps are not forever as they are assigned a value and will depreciate over time during inflationary periods.

  7. From a purely PR perspective, this is rather foolish of the P.O., as the word “Forever” is in almost every instance positioned immediately before or after “USA”, and the slash appears to suggest the P.O. (unintentionally, no doubt), is making a negative political statement about the USA.

    Why not just stamp, (no pun intended), “Sample” across the images and avoid any risk of appearing foolish or unpatriotic!

    Foreseeable blunders like this should surprise no one that it’s the P.O. that isn’t likely to last Forever…

    1. I’ve visited countries with no postal service; the lack of this key government functions disproportionately harms people living in poverty and those with low-to-middle incomes. The wealthy can still mail a job or university application, start a small business that ships goods, etc. but those of lower economic means don’t have these simple advantages. It’s a lot like being in a place with no central phone connections or no libraries- the wealthy can work around these impediments while everyone else suffers. Think about your inherent privileges before belittling segments of your own country’s government, especially ones which operate with amazing efficiency and longevity given the paltry sums “we the people”, as their employers, deign to pay them.

  8. I love all stamps. And I think the usps is great. I mail hundreds of letters every year and they all seem to make it to my family members all around the world. Still Amazing to me. And of these comments are interesting. Thank you.

  9. STEVE, YOU GOT A COMMENT FROM A DAVID SCHMIDT ON MARCH 11, 2019 WHEREIN HE STATED THAT COMMEMORATIVE STAMPS ARE NOT FOREVER STAMPS BUT HAVE A STATED VALUE AND, GREAT SCOTT, YOU AGREED WITH HIM. SORRY STEVE, BUT YOU HADN’T DONE YOUR HOMEWORK WHEN YOU AGREED WITH HIM. FIRST CLASS STAMPS (INCLUDING COMMEMORATIVES) THAT PAY THE 1oz RATE ARE ALL FOREVER SINCE ABOUT 2014. THE ONLY EXCEPTION TO THIS WITH DEFINITIVE STAMPS WHICH GENERALLY PAY PARCEL RATES AND THESE ARE ISSUED IN 1c TO $5 DENOMINATIONS.
    BTW, CONGRATULATIONS FOR TAKING A MEANINGLESS TOPIC (FOREVER SLASHED THRU) AND KEEPING IT ALIVE FOR A YEAR OR SO
    TYLER VEASEY

    1. Good catch Tyler. You can tell I haven’t purchased commemoratives for many years (in part because they would “age out” unlike Forever stamps). I just did some research on this and found USPS added commemorative stamps to the Forever stamp program two years before this post was published. I have added an update to the post.

      About “keeping it alive” it’s curious how I can write about something I’m passionate about (Why I Donate Blood) and it gets no comments. However, a post about something that “makes you go hmmm” (a postage product introduced over a decade ago) is picking-up steam 6 years later.

  10. Hi Steve,
    I wish I’d read your comments before I purchased my stamps!! I truly was appalled at the number of stamps with “forever” crossed through… only found a few that did not have any wording and made a choice among them.
    Might need to pay more attention to the explanations of what is being explained for the rational of what I’m seeing, rather than letting my imagination fill the blanks!!

    All’s well that ends well…. I’ll seek out your “donate blood” post and see if we see eye to eye there. In the meantime, thank you for keeping me from thinking our government has become some kind of a communist, anti-ppl kind of place!
    Tiana

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