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Sheet notes anniversary of bureau printing

The U.S. Postal Service will issue a souvenir postage stamp sheet Thursday honoring the 100th anniversary of stamp printing by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The new sheet will consist of four identical $2 stamps.

The new stamps will show a portrait of President James Madison. At the top of the sheet, centered, is an engraved image of the original home of the bureau, a red brick building at the corner of 14th Street and Independence Avenue in Washington, D.C. The building is flanked by the dates 1894 and 1994. The artwork used on the stamps first appeared on stamps issued in 1894.

Before the bureau began producing U.S. postage stamps a century ago, the printing was done by private banknote companies.

The first day of issuance is scheduled at the New York MEGA Stamp Show sponsored by the Stamp Dealers Association of America.

For first-day postmarks, send stamps to Customer Affixed Stamps, BEP/James Madison Stamps, Postmaster, New York, NY 10199-9991. Deadline is Dec. 2.

Information from the U.S. Postal Service was used in this story.

St. Brendan stamps

An Irish monk named St. Brendan is the reason Ireland, the Faroe Islands and Iceland have issued a joint series of stamps celebrating the achievements of this pious, seafaring cleric.

St. Brendan was credited with the discovery of Iceland and the Faroes about A.D. 500. However, historians say a number of his fellow monks also participated in the discoveries. Many legends have been written about him _ some true, others pure fantasy _ including one about his reputed landing in America.

The objective of St. Brendan in setting out on these hazardous journeys was to spread the Christian faith. The Irish monks sailed across the seas without benefit of compass or charts, navigating only by the stars.

The new stamps are identical in design and feature a sketch of ancient drawings of St. Brendan and his companion monks on their difficult journeys of discovery. The names of the countries and denominations differ.

The two stamps from each country can be obtained for $10.95, first-day covers for $12.95 and both for $19.95 (per country) from the Explorers Collectors Society, P.O. Box 56562, Sherman Oaks, Calif. 91413.

Classic catalog

Here's a new catalog that features only the old stamps, not the new. It's the Scott 1995 Classic Catalogue devoted exclusively to the first 100 years of stamps _ from 1840 to 1940.

There are more than 32 countries listed in the Classic, beginning with the United States. The remaining countries are listed in alphabetical order. Starting with the 1840 Penny Black, stamp listings run to the start of the World War II era.

The cover price is $33. It is available from stamp dealers or Scott Publishing Co., P.O. Box 828, Sidney, OH 45365.