Goodbye 2016 and Welcome 2017! The year 2016 was a very special year for the American Philatelic Society. Two blockbuster events occurred, one expected and one not.
The unexpected was the discovery and successful return in June of an Inverted Jenny airmail stamp (Scott C3a). The stamp, known as Position 76 for its location in an original 1918 sheet of 100, is one of four once owned by Ethel McCoy and stolen in 1955. Though two others had previously been located and another is still missing, it was a pleasure for this stamp to return to the American Philatelic Research Library, which received the rights to the stolen stamps via McCoy’s will.
The expected event was years in the planning and creating. The new 9,000-square-foot American Philatelic Research Library opened at the American Philatelic Center in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. A grand opening for the state-of-the-art facility was held in October.
The APS, celebrating its 130th anniversary, again sponsored two major shows and conventions — the AmeriStamp Expo in Atlanta and StampShow in Portland, Oregon. In addition, the APS played a major role and held a prominent presence at World Stamp Show-NY 2016, the international show held in the United States every 10 years.
The United States Postal Service announced another grouping of stamps to be issued in 2017. Here are links to the other 2017 stamps previously revealed in September and another batch in November. No issue dates have been announced for these newly revealed 2017 stamps.
Here is the USPS press release on the new stamps:
Additional 2017 Stamps Announced Renowned fashion designer Oscar de la Renta,
St. Louis’ Gateway Arch Featured
WASHINGTON — The Postal Service today announced more stamps to be issued in 2017.
“The new year is shaping up to be exceptional as the Postal Service continues to produce stamps that celebrate the people, events and cultural milestones that are unique to the history of our great nation,” said Mary-Anne Penner, U.S. Postal Service Director, Stamp Services. “We are very excited to showcase these miniature works of art to help continue telling America’s story as we add to the lineup of 2017 stamps announced earlier.”
The January issue of The American Philatelist is now online for members to view. Here are some of the highlights:
Alaskan Interrupted Mail by Steven Berlin. Uncommon and rare covers include those delayed by floods, earthquakes, ship mishaps, airplane crashes, and robberies.
Federal Use of Confederate Design Patriotic Covers of Northern Manufacture by James Milgram. A look at covers displaying Confederate designs that were manufactured and used in the North.
Superheores on Stamps by Timothy M. Bergquist. After spending decades on the pulp pages of comic books, popular superheroes have burst onto the stamp scene with a POW! BAM! and SPLASH!
1919 Texas Recruiting Flight by Don Jones. After World War I, the military found itself short of soldiers so it conducted a major recruitment campaign by dangling the new air service as a carrot.
Featured Columns Stamp Classics by Joseph Iredale. A new column reviews some stamps from the golden era described by many as the first hundred years, 1840 to 1940. This month, a look at Thailand’s first official postage stamps and some provisionals that preceded them.
Collecting Coast to Coast: A Little Something Extra On That Cover by Wayne L. Youngblood. Messages from the Captain of the Watch, the Fiscal Director and others of interest are found in a review of private auxiliary markings that sometimes amuse or confound postal clerks, customers, and collectors.
Worldwide in a Nutshell: Antigua and Barbuda by Bob Lamb. The Caribbean islands of Antigua and Barbuda had separate philatelic histories until they were joined together as one country.
Not many nations — even those with a strong Christian base — put an image of the Nativity on their stamps much before the 1970s. As we saw in our Christmas Firsts blog, Hungary first put Nativity imagery on a stamp in 1943. (For argument’s sake, we’re calling the Nativity as depicting the Holy Family — Mary, Joseph, and the Baby Jesus in a manger-like setting.)
The United States has rarely put an image of a manger scene or Holy Family on a stamp, instead for a religious motif at Christmas opting for master artworks of the Madonna and Child, along with the occasional angel. The first full Madonna and Child stamp was in 1966, followed quickly by a second in 1967. Two more were issued in 1973 and 1975, and in 1978, the Postal Service started a run of 22 consecutive years showing a Madonna and Child master artwork. No Christmas stamps were issued in 2000, and although it’s been more sporadic, the Madonna and Child imagery has appeared on 10 more stamps.
In 1970, the religious U.S. stamp showed a manger scene, presenting Nativity (1523), by Lorenzo Lotto, and in 1971, the stamp showed a detail from Adoration of the Shepherds (c. 1505) by Giorgione, followed in 1976 by Nativity (c. 1777), by John Singleton Copley. Not until this year, did another manger/Nativity scene show up on a U.S. Christmas stamp. Interestingly, this year also saw a new Madonna and Child stamp.
It’s interesting to see how other nations present the Madonna and Child, some in traditional forms, sometimes in modernized images, and some depicting the Holy Family in that country’s traditional stylings.
Great Britain’s Royal Mail in 2015 offered a minimalist setting for the manger.
Peru issued two Christmas stamps showing the manger in 1977.
This stamp from Kenya in 1986 is one in a set of four.
This stamp from Ireland in 1991 is one of a set of three.
This Canadian 1977 Christmas stamp showing First Nation figures is part of a set of three.
One of the best-loved Christmas songs of all time originated in 1818 in Austria.
Joseph Mohr, then assistant pastor at the church of St. Nicholas in Oberndorf, had written a poem called “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht” (“Silent Night, Holy Night”) several years earlier, and he asked the St. Nicholas choir director and organist, Franz Gruber, to compose music for the words, for two solo voices accompanied by a guitar and choir.
Legend has it that the music was composed in a short time because the church organ was not working and Christmas Eve was at hand. A more recent look at the history suggest that the song was unlikely composed in an afternoon or two, as the oft-repeated story says. No matter where the truth lies, “Silent Night” (“Stille Nacht”) was sung for the first time for midnight mass on December 24, 1818 with Mohr, Gruber, and the choir.
The church was damaged several times, particularly by flooding and was torn down in 1913. A replica — the Silent Night Chapel with seating for no more than 20 — was built in its place and opened in 1937. A pink building next to the chapel is the vicarage in which Joseph Mohr lived while serving in Oberndorf between 1817 and 1819.