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NEW YORK (Reuters) - After printing 3 billion copies of a new postage stamp bearing an image of the Statue of Liberty, the United States Postal Service received a strange question from a stamp collector.
Did postal officials realize the photograph was not of the famed statue in New York Harbour, but of a less-feted fibreglass and Styrofoam replica outside a Las Vegas casino?
They did not.
"We certainly regret having made the error," Roy Betts, a USPS spokesman, said on Friday.
The first-class postage stamp, which shows a low-angled close-up of Lady Liberty's face and crown, was issued in December, according to an announcement about the "world-recognized" symbol of the United States.
The statement described the statue as a gift from the people of France, designed by sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, which stands 305 feet (93 meters) tall on Liberty Island off the tip of Manhattan, "a symbol of political freedom and democracy for millions of people around the world."
None of which is quite true of the half-sized replica outside the New York-New York Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
The USPS became aware of what it is calling a "mischaracterization" about a month ago, Betts said.
MGM Resorts International, which owns the New York-New York Hotel, seemed pleased with the mix-up.
"We all thought that the Post Office was honouring just one great American institution, but in reality it was honouring two -- The Statue of Liberty and Las Vegas -- with just one stamp," said Yvette Monet, a spokeswoman for the company. "Regardless of how it came about, New York-New York is honoured to be the first Las Vegas casino resort to be on a U.S. stamp."
The USPS said it will correct the catalogue information connected with the stamp and live with the error, and has no plans to issue a recall. "Our track record is excellent for this as far as we're concerned," Betts said. "We've been issuing stamps since 1847. Very few errors have occurred over the years." (Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Greg McCune)