Hoping to nip what could become a public relations disaster in the bud, postal officials have decided to rename the stamp they plan to issue early next year when higher postal rates are expected to become effective.

The stamp, already printed and stored in postal vaults around the country, is officially known as the "F-stamp." It would be the latest in a series of rate-change stamps that began with an "A-stamp" in 1978.

The last rate-change stamp was the "E-stamp," and featured a view of the planet Earth.

Postal officials are fearful of what hordes of customers -- not to mention Jay Leno and David Letterman -- will say about "that F-stamp."

"Strike that word from your vocabulary," one postal spokesman said. "We're calling it the 'flower stamp.' "

The stamp -- which flower is depicted hasn't been announced -- will go on sale early next year after the Postal Rate Commission, an independent federal agency, acts on the Postal Service's request to boost the cost of a first-class letter from 25 cents to 30 cents.

The Postal Service began issuing rate-change stamps bearing letters instead of a specific price because it could never be certain what rate the commission would set.