Christmas Carols Stamps October 5

Christmas Carols
Christmas Carols

The Christmas Carols forever stamps will debut October 5 nationwide. The first-day ceremony is scheduled to take place at noon at the American Stamp Dealers Association’s Fall Stamp Show. The ceremony will be in the Rheinlander Gallery of the New York Hilton Midtown,  1335 Avenue of the Americas, 6th Ave. and West 53rd St., New York, New York.

The ceremony participants include U.S. Postal Service Brand Marketing Executive Director Christopher Karpenko; American Philatelic Society American Philatelist Editor Jay Bigalke; and U.S. Postal Service Stamp Services Director Mary-Anne Penner.

Here is some additional information on the Christmas Carols stamps from the U.S. Postal Service:

The U.S. Postal Service celebrates the Holiday season with four new Forever stamps featuring images that illustrate a major theme of each of four beloved Christmas carols: “Jingle Bells,” “Deck the Halls,” “Silent Night” and “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas.” Familiar lines from each song highlight the individual stamps. The shades of blue in the backgrounds of the stamps evoke the evening scenes from the four carols. This booklet of 20 stamps includes five of each design. The late Howard E. Paine was the art director. Artist Steve McCracken of Winchester, VA, created original art for the project.

Snowy Day Forever Stamps October 4

“The Snowy Day”
“The Snowy Day”

The United States Postal Service will issue The Snowy Day forever stamps October 4 nationwide. The stamps are based on a children’s book by Ezra Jack Keats.

The first-day ceremony will take place at 10:30 a.m. at the Brooklyn Public Library Central Library, 10 Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, New York. The event is free and open to the public.

The following individuals are scheduled to participate in the ceremony: U.S. Postal Service Government Relations and Public Policy Acting Executive Director Roderick N. Sallay; Brooklyn Public Library President and CEO Linda E. Johnson; Award-winning children’s and young adult author Andrea Davis Pinkney; and Ezra Jack Keats Foundation Executive Director Deborah Pope.

Here is some additional information on the stamp issue from the U.S. Postal Service: The U.S. Postal Service showcases Ezra Jack Keats’ most beloved story, The Snowy Day. Written and illustrated by the celebrated children’s author, it was one of the first prominent 20th-century picture books centered on an African-American child. Each of the four new stamps in this 20-stamp booklet features a different illustration of main character Peter exploring and playing in his neighborhood while wearing his iconic red snowsuit. The images include Peter forming a snowball; sliding down a mountain of snow; making a snow angel; and leaving footprints in the snow. Art director Antonio Alcalá of Alexandria, VA, designed the stamps.

Release of African American History
and Culture Stamp Postponed

Celebrating African American History and Culture
Celebrating African American History and Culture

The Postal Service has postponed the release of its Celebrating African American History and Culture stamp to sometime later this year, a spokesman said today.

No reason was given for the postponement of the release of the forever stamp, which originally was to be issued September 24. In an e-mail to philatelic media, Roy Betts did note the stamp will be issued “later this year.”

This stamp recognizes the richness of the black experience by celebrating the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture on a 5-acre site on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The stamp’s original release date coincided with the first anniversary of the museum’s formal opening.

The stamp, designed by art director and typographer Antonio Alcalà, features an existing photo of the museum’s front taken by Alan Karchmer.

Father Theodore Hesburgh Stamp September 1 Nationwide

Father Theodore Hesburgh
Father Theodore Hesburgh

The U.S. Postal Service will honor Father Theodore Hesburgh with a commemorative forever stamp issued in two formats (a pane of 20 and a coil of 50) on Friday, September 1.

The ceremony will take place at 1 p.m. at the University of Notre Dame in the Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center in Notre Dame, Indiana.

The first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony event is free and open to the public. Scheduled to participate are Megan J. Brennan, Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer of the United States Postal Service; The Honorable Condoleezza Rice, 66th Secretary of State of the United States; Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. President, University of Notre Dame; Rev. Austin I. Collins, C.S.C. Religious Superior of Holy Cross Priests and Brothers, University of Notre Dame; Rev. Thomas J.O’Hara, C.S.C. Provincial Superior, Congregation of Holy Cross; and Richard “Digger” Phelps, Former Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee Member.

Here is some additional background on the stamp issue from the U.S. Postal Service:

The Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, (1917–2015), longtime president of the University of Notre Dame, is considered one of the most important academic, religious and civic leaders of the 20th century.

Appointed to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in 1957, Hesburgh helped to compile reports on racial discrimination and the denial of voting rights that resulted in the Omnibus Civil Rights Act of 1964. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom the same year, and later founded the Center for Civil and Human Rights at Notre Dame.

A champion of causes ranging from education to immigration reform to the plight of underdeveloped nations, Hesburgh worked with many organizations that reflected his beliefs, including the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, the National Science Board, the Overseas Development Council, and the Select Committee on Immigration and Refugee Policy. An advocate for limiting nuclear arms, he was the Vatican’s representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency from 1956-1970.

Ordained into the priesthood of the Congregation of Holy Cross in 1943, Hesburgh was appointed to the faculty at Notre Dame in 1945. He became Notre Dame’s 15th president in 1952, a position he held for 35 years, the longest presidential term in the university’s history. Hesburgh spearheaded successful efforts to strengthen the faculty and administration, improve academic standards and increase the university’s endowment.

In 1987, Hesburgh stepped down as Notre Dame’s president, devoting his time in retirement to supporting university initiatives, in particular the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, and serving on various boards and presidential commissions.

Hesburgh was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2000, one of many awards and honors received during his lifetime.

Total Solar Eclipse Stamp Product of Several Voices

The United States Postal Service’s Total Eclipse of the Sun stamp is the collaboration of several interested voices, according to Antonio Alcalá, the stamp’s art director for the USPS.

The stamp was issued in June in anticipation of the August 21 eclipse, which will travel the length of the United States from the Pacific Northwest to the Southeastern Seaboard.

On June 20, the Summer Solstice, the USPS issued a first-ever stamp with changeable ink. The forever stamp, currently sold at 49 cents and forever valid for first-class domestic mail, has a darkened orb — such as an eclipsed sun — but when heated (such as under a thumb) turns into the face of the moon.

The stamp uses thermochromic ink to create its special effect. The dark, round image of the eclipse on the stamp transforms into the illuminated moon from the heat of a finger. The image turns black again when it cools. This is the first time such ink has been used on a U.S. stamp, according to the Postal Service.

The Postal Service warns that thermochromic inks are vulnerable to UV light and should be kept out of direct sunlight as much as possible to preserve this special effect.

The forever stamp is issued in a pane of 16. Alcalá of Alexandria, Virginia, designed the stamp. The stamp features a photograph of an eclipse taken by Fred “Mr. Eclipse” Espenak on March 29, 2006 in Jalu, Libya. Espenak, of Portal, Arizona, is a retired NASA astrophysicist and is considered by many to be the world’s leading authority on total solar eclipses with 27 under his belt.

“I’m honored to have my images on this unique stamp,” Espenak said. “But more importantly, the stamp will spread the news about America’s great eclipse to many more people than I could ever reach,” said Espenak, who began collecting eclipse stamps after witnessing his first as a teenager. “A total eclipse of the sun is simply the most beautiful, stunning and awe-inspiring astronomical event you can see with the naked eye.”

On the back of the pane is a map of the United States showing the path of totality, those places where the sun will be completely blocked as the moon passes between it and Earth. “The 70-mile-wide shadow path of the eclipse, known as the path of totality, will traverse the country diagonally, appearing first in Oregon (mid-morning local time) and exiting some 2,500 miles east and 90 minutes later off the coast of South Carolina (mid-afternoon local time),” the pane says.

Major cities in the path that are identified on the map are Salem, Oregon; Idaho Falls, Idaho; Casper, Wyoming; Lincoln, Nebraska.; Kansas City, Kansas.; St. Louis, Missouri.; Nashville, Tennessee; and Charleston, South Carolina.

We asked Alcalá a few questions about creating the stamp and the pane.

When did you start working on this stamp?
Spring 2016

Can you give us any background on how an eclipse stamp came to be? Did a specific group or groups promote it through Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee? Was it a CSAC idea?
It was a combination of both CSAC and USPS interest in the event based on our research.

Please tell us how and when this unique printing concept came about? Who suggested it?
I was investigating various ways to represent the eclipse on a stamp while simultaneously exploring different printing techniques. I suggested thermochromic ink as a way to represent the event in a way that would engage the public and also provide educational content. USPS supported this idea and printing technique from the moment it was first proposed.

Which came first, the concept of thermochromic ink or Mr. Espenak’s images?
As mentioned, I was exposed to the images and the printing technique as a possibility fairly simultaneously.

How did the testing (or trial and error) phase go? Did the stamp work as expected immediately or did adjustments have to be made? If so, what kind of adjustments?
There was a bit of testing to gauge how much ink to lay over the moon image to get the desired effect.

Were there any specific challenges in the printing process involving this special ink?
Though it wasn’t really a challenge, the printing of the underlying image and the thermochromic disc happened at two different locations.

What kind of imagery did Mr. Espenak supply?
Mr. Espenak provided a high resolution electronic file of the image shown on the stamp. 

The stamp has the wording in a tone of white. Was there any thought to use a different color, especially with white as the dominant color of the sun’s corona?
No, I did not consider a different color. In part, I envisioned this stamp as a companion to the previously released stamps featuring the planets and Pluto. Therefore, I used the same format. But I also think the type is quite legible without being intrusive.

Is there anything else interesting you would like to share about this stamp?
I’m thrilled that it turned out so well. The stamp is exactly as originally envisioned. A real success!