A government engraver etched a tiny Star of David onto the die of a $1 stamp last year, the first time a symbol has been etched surreptitiously on a U.S. stamp, postal officials said.

Officials of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing said yesterday that the mark was added by Kenneth Kipperman, who was arrested by D.C. police June 17 and charged with threatening to blow up the site of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The star, first disclosed by Linn's Stamp News, a weekly philatelic publication, has alarmed bureau officials. The bureau long has prided itself on printing postage stamps at its 14th Street plant under the same strict security that covers production of U.S. currency.

The agency, part of the Treasury Department, ordered an immediate review of hand-engraved stamp dies after the star was discovered following a telephone tip earlier this month. The dies are the metal plates from which most U.S. stamps are reproduced.

The review does not focus solely on stamps engraved by Kipperman although bureau spokesman Ira Polikoff said several of his designs are under scrutiny. As of yesterday, no secret marks had been found on other stamps, Polikoff said.

Shortly after the anonymous call, officials found the six-pointed star in the beard of Hebrew educator Bernard Revel, founder of New York's Yeshiva University, the spokesman said.

The tiny star, to the right of Revel's lips on the stamp, is not visible to the naked eye. But Polikoff said it is clearly visible on the die from which the light green stamp, part of a series honoring famous Americans, was printed.

Millions of the Revel stamps have been printed. Because the Star of David is on all of them, it is not expected to change the stamp's value, postal officials said. Postal officials said they had no plans to call for reengraving the stamp to eliminate the star, which Polikoff described as an "unauthorized" addition to the stamp.

Kipperman described himself as being Jewish to arresting officers in June. "Since Revel is Jewish, {Kipperman} might have thought this would have added to the design," Polikoff said. "Who knows?"

Peter Davidson, manager of stamp and philatelic information for the U.S. Postal Service, said the agency has "not a clue" as to Kipperman's motive. Postal officials learned of the star when a Linn's reporter called, Davidson said.

Asked whether the discovery troubled postal officials, Davidson said, after a pause, "The Postal Service has noted this with more than usual interest."

Polikoff said he understood that officials discovered the star after receiving an anonymous telephone call. "The caller said: 'Did you know that there is a Star of David on the stamp?' or 'Did you deliberately place the Star of David on the stamp?' "

Kipperman, who is charged with making a threat to cause bodily injury in connection with the museum incident, could not be reached for comment. Two days after his three-hour standoff with police June 17, he held a news conference and apologized, saying that he only Because the Star of David is on all the $1 stamps, it is not expected to change the stamp's value.

wanted to call attention to "what was the remains of a beautiful old historical building" being razed for the new museum.

The engraver, one of 16 artisans classified as "bank note engravers" by the Treasury Department, has returned to work, but he has been placed on administrative duties away from the guarded area where stamps and currency are etched into metal. Kipperman's building pass has been coded to bar him from the area, Polikoff said.

At the time of his arrest, Kipperman, a resident of Silver Spring, was described by a bureau spokesman as a "highly regarded, skilled craftsman" who had joined the agency in 1974 as an apprentice picture engraver and was promoted five years later to journeyman. He was described as responsible for engraving stamps and touching up the plates used to print currency.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office said the case has been turned over to a grand jury.