The US GPO acquired a new printing press in 1987

American stamp banknotes by John M. Hotchner

The acquisition by the United States Government Printing Office of new equipment in 1987 marked a radical change in the GPO’s production capacity and its ability to produce ever more colorful postcard designs.

Until then, multi-color printing was limited to two colors in a single pass. More colors required another time consuming pass. Since the U.S. Postal Service planned in the 1980s to expand the postcard program to cover more subjects and more colorful art, the GPO needed to update its production and processing equipment, some of which dated from 1925.

This led to the installation in 1987 of a Roland Man 800 five-color offset press at the GPO.

Another acquisition at the same time was a UNO packet cutter system which processed sheets of 80 subjects produced by the five-color press and converted them into complete product packs to be sent to the 49 regional distribution centers serving 6,300 post offices in all the countries.

The cut-pack system was capable of processing up to 7,000 sheets of 80 postcards per hour. The machine gathered, cut, strapped, stacked, shrink wrapped and labeled the packages for delivery.

The first card fully produced on the new equipment was the 1787 Constitutional Convention 14 ¢ card issued May 25, 1987 (Scott UX116). The map shown on the front and back of Figure 1 was canceled on August 27, 1987, to commemorate the acceptance and unveiling of the new system.

The back of this card quotes some of the facts mentioned in this column.

The GPO continued to use this system until 2006, when the USPS began contracting with outside companies exclusively to produce postcards.

The last postcard produced by the GPO was the 2006 24 ¢ Pikes Peak card shown in Figure 2. This is the last of approximately 60 cards produced by the GPO on the new equipment.

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