3137 - 1997 32c Bugs Bunny, pane of 10
US #3137 – The regular perforated Bugs Bunny sheet.

On May 22, 1997, the USPS issued the first stamp in the Looney Tunes Series, honoring Bugs Bunny.

The Bugs Bunny stamp was issued in conjunction with a campaign to launch the USPS’s “Stampers” program.  As the official mascot of Stampers, it was hoped the animated character would help revive youth interest in the hobby of stamp collecting.  A full-color, 12-page magazine was made available through the USPS Philatelic Fulfillment Service Center for a limited time, as part of the Stampers program.

When the Bugs Bunny stamp was announced, many people were unhappy about picturing an animated character on a stamp.  They felt Bugs was too commercial and honoring him would cheapen America’s stamp program.  One newspaper editor wrote the stamp was “a new low in commercializing and trivializing once high-minded stamp program.”  But a US Postal Service official replied that Bugs was a “unique part of American history.”

Despite the controversy behind the stamp, the USPS issued it on May 22, 1997.  The Bugs Bunny sheet broke new ground in several categories.  It was the first self-adhesive sheet produced in the US.  And Bugs Bunny received a lot of attention for being the first cartoon character on a US stamp.  The stamps proved to be so popular that a series of four other Looney Tunes characters in the same format followed.

3138 - 1997 32c Bugs Bunny, pane of 10 with imperforate
US #3138 – Pane with 10th stamp imperforate – only 118,000 were issued.

Another interesting part of the Bugs Bunny stamp story is the specially die-cut imperforate pane, which was one of the rarest US stamps issued in 70 years.  The pane was created to fill orders for the Stampers program.  It differs from the standard version in two ways.  First, the die-cuts on the nine stamps located on the left side of the pane penetrate the backing paper.  This allows individual stamps to be removed from the pane with their liner intact.  Secondly, the 10th stamp was not die-cut.  This was done because the 10th stamp wasn’t “burstable” – meaning it wasn’t easily removed to fill orders.

3204 - 1998 32c Sylvester and Tweety
US #3204 – 1998 Sylvester and Tweety perforated pane.
3205 - 1998 32c Sylvester and Tweety, pane of 10 with imperforate 10th stamp
US #3205 – Sylvester and Tweety sheet with 10th stamp imperforate.

In fact, panels containing the unused 10th stamp were shredded! That’s why there are only 118,000 specially die-cut Bugs Bunny panes with the 10th stamp imperforate.  By comparison, 150,000 Legends of the West error sheets (US #2870) were issued!

3306 - 1999 33c Daffy Duck, pane of 10
US #3306 – 1999 Daffy perforated pane.
3307 - 1999 33c Daffy Duck, pane of 10 with imperforate
US #3307 – Daffy sheet with 10th stamp imperforate.

The Bugs Bunny sheet proved to be wildly popular, so the USPS continued to produce Looney Tunes stamps for the next four years.  The remaining sheets in the series were also produced in both the fully perforated format and with the 10th stamp imperforate.  However, the production quantity for these later imperforate sheets was much higher than with the Bugs Bunny sheet.

Even still, when the USPS issued 500,000 Sylvester and Tweety imperforate sheets in 1998, they sold out in three and a half-weeks, leading them to produce another 150,000 panes to meet the high demand.

3391 - 2000 33c Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner, pane of 10
US #3391 – 2000 Wile E. Coyote perforated sheet.
3392 - 2000 33c Wile E. Coyote & Road Runner, Imperf pane s/a
US #3392 – Wile E. Coyote sheet with 10th stamp imperforate.

As with previous Looney Tunes stamps, the USPS issued a number of special die-cut Coyote and Road Runner panes.  The amount issued, 236,000, was down from the 500,000 special panes in 1998 and 1999.  For the Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner stamps, the USPS changed the printing process and the contractor, causing it to differ somewhat from previous stamps in the series.  For example, it has microprinting and more uniform die cuts.

3534 - 2001 34c Porky Pig, pane of 10
US #3534 – 2001 Porky Pig perforated sheet.
3535 - 2001 34c Porky Pig, pane of 10 with imperforate
US #3535 – Porky Pig sheet with 10th stamp imperforate.

On the fifth and final Looney Tunes stamp, Porky Pig, as a mail carrier, delivers a letter bearing another stamp from the series, Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner.  There were 236,000 of these special panes produced in 2001.  The selvage image is composed of all the characters who appeared on the previous four Looney Tunes stamps. When the self-adhesive stamps are peeled off, the words, “That’s all Folks!” are visible on the liner paper.

3137//3534 - 1997-2001 Warner Brothers Sheet Collection, Set of 5
US #3137//3534 – Get all 5 perforated sheets in one convenient set.

Click here to see what else happened on This Day in History.

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19 Comments

  1. Very interesting article full of many unknown facts to me. In particular, the one about the destruction of the remaining sheets that contained the 10th “unburstable” Bugs Bunny stamp and the fact that this was the first self-adhesive sheet produced by the USPS, if you don’t count the 10¢ 1974 Christmas stamp (1552), which technically wasn’t a sheet I guess.
    I also found it interesting that the title, and the first sentence, of this spread actually contains the word Looney misspelled, missing the letter e!

  2. Good, informative article. I own the perforated Bugs Bunny sheet, but not the imperforate version (it’s a bit pricey).

  3. I cut my teeth on the Bugs Bunny series, whether in the funnies, comics or at the Saturday matinee. The stamps were a reminder of those “good ole days”. Some critics get too serious and just need to laugh at it. They are part of my collection now. Thank you again, Mystic.

  4. I bought the incorporate Bugs Bunny sheet at face value when it was released and it’s been one of my best buys investment -wise! I wish I’d had bought 10 of them!

  5. Thank you for the delightful history about Bugs Bunny and the animated stamp series. I may have missed it, but how successful was the bugs bunny stamp in getting children interested in stamp collecting? I am certain I’m not alone among your Subscribers who started the hobby as a kid. As most of us old-guy stamp collectors pass along, what is being done now to encourage stamp collecting? “That’s all folks!“

    1. Hey Don. When the Bugs Bunny stamp sheet came out, I remember walking to the post office just to get it each week that I could afford a book. Bugs Bunny has always been my favorite Looney Tunes character and I was just 14 yrs old af the time of its issuance. It was part of my stamp collection then and has become just as important today in my collection growth.

  6. Wile is my favorite character. I understand he has retired to Orange County, CA and was seen recently on his walker chasing a rather well known geriatric mouse. LOL

  7. Good Morning, I believe that I have one or more of these stamps in

    my collection that you are reviewing. Thanks, William

  8. Very interesting article. I enjoyed reading about these little characters are all so precious and have beautiful memories for each of us but I never knew there were US stamps to honor them. Am really surprised and some other articles I have read through Mystic are really great and I am learning about history as well as stamps. Keep up the good work.

  9. Quack quack quack- why isn’t my picture on a stamp! Not to mention Huey, Louie and Dewey. And Unca
    Scrooge, of course.

  10. I owned a private postal store and always used postage stamps instead of meters to pay postage on all my shipments. I ordered lots of stamps from USPS including an entire pad of 100 sheets of the imperf Bugs Bunny sheets. I used them for postage. To use the imperf stamp I applied the entire half (the big Bugs Bunny) on parcels or large envelopes when space was available. One postal clerk tried to tell me that this was a label andnot a valid stamp!. Wish I had held on to some of those imperf panes.

  11. Most informative article. I was able to get the rare Bugs at a great low price way back when. I also own the error Legends of the West stampsheet. Keep up your articles.

  12. Sad that US stamps have so many issues on so many
    silly topics. Just look at all the different versions of
    the US flag that keep getting printed! Who can afford to
    collect US stamps now with so many being issued?
    I think the Bugs Bunny issue started a wave of unecessary
    stamp topics that does nothing to reflect the rich history
    of the United States.

  13. Interesting article. As a retired employee of the company these Warner stamps when they came out were a must own. Thing is, while I bought all 5 varieties, I don’t know where they are now. Probably in a box from packing up my office years ago.

  14. When the B|ugs Bunny stamp was issued I purchased a pane from the local post office. About a week later I went back to the Post Office to buy more Bugs Bunny stamps. The postal clerk said that they wer so popular that they were sold out, many for high school graduation presents. My wife and I grew up with Looney Tunes as well as our 4 children. Greatmemories and great story.

  15. Thanks Mystic. This article was great, as all of them are. You do a great service for stamp collectors throughout the country, keeping those who care, informed. It is also interesting to read the comments of the people who responded to the article.

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