33¢ Xreme Sports
Issue Date: June 25, 1999
City: San Francisco, CA
Printed By: Avery Dennison
Printing Method: Photogravure
Perforations: Serpentine die cut 11
Please note: Due to the layout of the pane, the se-tenant may or may not be provided in Scott Catalogue order.
The X Games, produced by sports network ESPN, is one of the largest extreme sports competitions in the U.S. The event brings together the top athletes in sports like skysurfing and bicycle stunt riding. The 1999 “Xtreme Sports” stamps were issued at the games in San Francisco.
Skateboarding developed in California in the 1930s from surfing, a sport that requires similar skills. Polyurethane wheels and flexible boards led to “trick” style skating, which can be performed on streets, ramps, or specially designed “half pipes” (U-shaped ramps).
BMX (bicycle motocross) became popular in the 1970s in an attempt to duplicate conditions faced by Motorcycle Motocross racers. Participants race on tracks that have bumps and sharp turns. BMX bikes have small frames, large, knobby wheels, and a high seat.
Inline skating began in 1980 as a training exercise for hockey players during the warm months of the off-season. The activity became a national craze in the 1990s, when the number of inline skaters increased from 12.6 million in 1993 to 29.1 million in 1997.
Snowboarding’s popularity has grown dramatically since its introduction in 1963, when Sherman Poppen bound two skis together. The sport gained world attention during the 1998 winter Olympics.
First U.S. Stamp With Scrambled Indicia
On September 18, 1997, the USPS issued the U.S. Air Force stamp, the first U.S. stamp to have a hidden image using Scrambled Indicia.
Over the years, the USPS had always sought ways to combat counterfeiting, with grills being one of the earliest examples. As technologies changed, they found new, more advanced ways to do this, including microprinting and tagging. Then in 1997, they introduced Scrambled Indicia.
Scrambled Indicia is a pre-press process invented by Graphic Security Systems Corporation. According to the company, it “scrambles, distorts, intertwines, overlaps, or otherwise manipulates images making encoded information on them unreadable by the naked eye, and non-copyable by current color copiers and digital scanners.” These images could then be viewed using a special decoder. In addition to thwarting counterfeiting, the USPS also hoped this interesting new technology could help arouse interest among collectors and inspire new ones.
Between 1997 and 2004 the USPS produced more than 40 stamps with Scrambled Indicia:
Click here to view the “decoded” stamps.
Click here to get your own decoder to see these neat hidden images in person.