First U.S. Stamp with Scrambled Indicia

1997 32¢ US Department of the Air Force
US #3167 – The scrambled indicia on this stamp consists of the letters “USAF” and stars in circles, repeating diagonally across the design.

On September 18, 1997, the USPS issued the US Air Force stamp, the first US stamp to have a hidden image using Scrambled Indicia.

Over the years, the USPS had always sought ways to combat counterfeiting, with grills being one of the earliest examples. As technologies changed, they found new, more advanced ways to do this, including microprinting and tagging. Then in 1997, they introduced Scrambled Indicia.

1998 $1.00 Red Fox
US #3036 – The scrambled indicia on this stamp pictures a fox.

Scrambled Indicia is a pre-press process invented by Graphic Security Systems Corporation. According to the company, it “scrambles, distorts, intertwines, overlaps, or otherwise manipulates images making encoded information on them unreadable by the naked eye, and non-copyable by current color copiers and digital scanners.” These images could then be viewed using a special decoder. In addition to thwarting counterfeiting, the USPS also hoped this interesting new technology could help arouse interest among collectors and inspire new ones.

1997-2004 Scrambled Indicia Stamp Collection, Mint, Set of 42 Stamps, U.S.
Item #MUS012 – Get ALL the Scrambled Indicia stamps in one convenient order and save time and money.

Between 1997 and 2004 the USPS produced more than 40 stamps with Scrambled Indicia:

1997 32¢ Classic Movie Monsters
US #3168-72 – Classic Movie Monsters.
1997 $3 Mars Pathfinder
US #3178 – Mars Pathfinder
1998 32¢ Wisconsin Statehood
US #3206 – Wisconsin
1998 32¢ Bright Eyes
US #3230-34 – Bright Eyes
1999 33c Xtreme Sports
US #3321-24 – Xtreme Sports
1998 32¢ Space Discovery
US #3238-42 – Space Discovery
1998 $3.20 Space Shuttle Landing, Priority Mail
US #3261 – Space Shuttle Landing
1998 $11.75 Piggyback Space Shuttle, Express Mail
US #3262 – Space Shuttle Piggyback
2001 $3.50 US Capitol
US #3472 – US Capitol
2001 $12.25 Washington Monument
US #3473 – Washington Monument
2002 $3.85 Jefferson Memorial, Priority Mail
US #3647 – Jefferson Memorial
2002 $13.65 U.S. Capitol Dome, Express Mail
US #3648 – US Capitol Dome
2002 37¢ Harry Houdini
US #3651 – Harry Houdini
2003 80¢ Special Olympics
US #3771 – Special Olympics
2003 37¢ Southeastern Lighthouses
US #3787-91 Southeastern Lighthouses
2003 37¢ Early Football Heroes
US #3808-11 – Early Football Heroes
2004 37¢ U.S. Air Force Academy
US #3838 – US Air Force Academy
2004 37¢ National WWII Memorial
US #3862 – National WWII Memorial


Click here to get your own decoder to see these neat hidden images in person.


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