WASHINGTON -- Billions of new postage stamps showing a picture of a tulip or just official language go on sale nationwide Wednesday as Americans get ready to shell out more for letters, packages and overnight mail.
The U.S. Postal Service printed more than 9 billion non- denominational stamps to ease the transition to new rates, which were approved Tuesday by the Board of Governors. The effective date for new postal rates is Feb. 3.
It is the first time the Post Office created two special stamps for the transition, spokeswoman Sandra Stewart said.
One new stamp, showing a reddish-orange tulip, the letter 'F' and the legend 'For U.S. Addresses Only,' will be worth the 29-cent first class rate.
A second stamp, with the message, 'This U.S. stamp, along with 25 cents of additional U.S. postage, is equivalent to the 'F' stamp rate,' will be worth 4 cents and is to be used with existing 25 cents stamps.
The Postal Service does not currently sell 29 cent stamps. Stewart said newly designed stamps showing the 29-cent value could go on sale within three months.
The two new stamps were stored in a Kansas City, Mo., underground vault until recently, when they were shipped to post offices. First stamps went on sale in Washington Tuesday.
Stewart said other rates will also rise Feb. 3:
--Each additional ounce or fraction on first class: 23 cents from 20 cents.
--Post cards: 19 cents from 15 cents.
--Overnight letter: $9.95 from $8.75.
International rates also change, with a new class for mail weighing less than one counce.
--Mexico: half-ounce, 35 cents (new rate); ounce, 45 cents, up from 25 cents.
--Canada: one ounce, 40 cents, from 30 cents.
--Other nations: half-ounce, 50 cents (new rate); ounce, 95 cents from 40 cents.
--Aerogramme: 45 cents, from 39 cents.