How Are Postal Stamps Made?

postal-stamps-made Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images News/Getty Images

In the United States, the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC) selects subjects for stamps, and the Stamp Development design team at the U.S. Postal Service creates the artwork and supervises stamp printing and production. Because stamps prepay the government for a service, the Postal Service uses secure printing methods and sophisticated design features to produce stamps so they cannot be counterfeited.

The Postmaster General appoints the CSAC members, and the group selects subjects for stamps. CSAC members often have expertise in history, education, sports, science, technology and the arts. The group reviews written suggestions from the public and proposes stamp designs. Stamp subjects must reflect the wide range of American experience for a global audience. In addition, the Postal Service publishes special stamps, such as memorial stamps issued after the death of a U.S. president.

After a stamp subject has been selected, the Stamp Development design team works with professional art directors to produce stamp designs that accommodate an image and text, including microtext, which is used to prevent counterfeiting. Design development usually begins several years before issuing the stamp to allow time to verify and produce the stamp.

Postage stamps are typically printed on adhesive paper in sheets, rolls or small booklets. They use a special metallic ink to make the stamps difficult to reproduce.