Scooby-Doo Stamp Ceremony held in Bloomington, Minnesota

By Steven J. Bahnsen

Scooby-Doo First Day Ceremony ProgramThe U.S. Postal Service used a very large venue – The Mall of America – to host the first-day dedication ceremony for its Scooby-Doo forever commemorative stamp. The big event was held at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 14. A crowd of about 100 people gathered for the event near the Sears store inside the megamall in Bloomington, Minnesota.

Scooby-Doo is a cartoon character seen on television since 1969 and direct-to-video movies. The stamp was created in conjunction with two partners – Warner Bros. Consumer Products, which owns the right to the cartoon character and the Scooby-Doo Doo Good project, a social awareness and action campaign for youth led by Generation On. There is no mention of the campaign on the stamp, but the selvage of the 12-stamp pane includes the campaign logo.

The first-day event was well planned and organized. Everyone got a program with a stamp cancelled on the envelope, but there were none to spare.

Postal operations were top notch.  Stamp sales and cancellations were conducted at different tables. The clerks were quite experienced, friendly and knew what they were doing and envelopes with the color first-day postmark on the stamp were available for sale.

The dedication ceremony was a fast-paced one lasting less than 15 minutes. Reporters Kiya Edwards, of television station KARE, Minneapolis, was the master of ceremonies. The Minnesota National Guard presented the colors. Postal employee Cheryl Reko sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

The principal speaker was Gary C. Reblin, Postal Service vice president of product innovation in Washington, D.C. Josh Hackbarth, vice president of franchise management and marketing for Warner Bros. Consumer Products offered his greetings and thanks for the stamp.

Scooby-Doo himself next came on stage and joined everyone else to unveil the stamp to the delight of the crowd.

All of this went off without a hitch as everyone had a good time.

Festivals and Flowers Usher in Second Quartet of 2018 US Holiday Stamps

On July 24, the United States Postal Service unveiled four more stamps for the 2018 holiday season, to be dedicated at first-day-of-issue events to be announced soon.

2018 PoinsettiaFirst of these is a Poinsettia Global Forever stamp that prepays a one-ounce letter to any country where First-Class Mail International service is available. As with all Global Forever stamps, this stamp will have a postage value equivalent to the price of the single-piece First-Class Mail International 1-ounce machineable letter in effect at the time of use (currently $1.15). These stamps can also be used domestically to prepay postal service of the same or lesser value..

The stamp features a view of a poinsettia from above, capturing the beauty of the green leaves, red bracts and yellow flowers in the center of this seasonal favorite. Poinsettias are now as much a part of the holidays as evergreens and mistletoe, with tens of millions sold annually.

The art director for this stamp was William J. Gicker, with design by Greg Breeding and a photograph by Betsy Pettet. The stamps will be issued in self-adhesive panes of 10.

2018 Madonna & Child StampA tradional holiday stamp at the domestic Forever rate depicts the Madonna and Child by Francesco d’Ubertino Verdi (1494–1557), the Florentine Italian Renaissance painter known as Bachiacca. This stamp features a detail of Bachiacca’s oil-and-gold-on-panel painting “Madonna and Child,” which dates from the early 1520s, showing the Christ child clutching a bouquet of jasmine, a symbol of divine love, alongside the Virgin Mary.

This painting is part of the Jack and Belle Linsky Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. William J. Gicker served as art director for this stamp, and Greg Breeding was the designer. Like all U.S. Forever stamps, it will always be equal in value to the current First-Class Mail single-ounce rate.


A new Forever-rate stamp celebrating the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah will be the U.S. contribution in a joint issue with Israel Post. Details of the Israeli stamp were not yet available when this report was compiled.

2018 Hanukkah Stamp

Hanukkah recalls the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem in the second century B.C. Tradition relates that during that event, the Jews had only enough sacramental oil to light the Temple lamps for a single day, yet the lamps burned for eight full days. Celebrations marking this miracle include the ritual lighting of the nine-branched menorah used only during Hanukkah. Eight branches hold candles representing each of the eight nights and days of Hanukkah, and the ninth is used to light the other candles.

The stamp shows a menorah created using Jewish folk art papercutting techniques. Artist Tamar Fishman made a pencil sketch, then cut the two-dimensional image on white paper, highlighting the design by using blue-purple and green papers for the background. Outlining the menorah, a shape reminiscent of an ancient oil jug alludes to the Hanukkah miracle. Also included near the bottom of the stamp are two small dreidels — spinning tops used to play a children’s game during the holiday — and a stylized pomegranate plant with fruit and flowers. Art director Ethel Kessler was the designer.

A family-centered celebration, Hanukkah games, songs, gifts and food all contribute to making the holiday festive and fun for family and friends. Hanukkah begins on the 25th of Kislev in the Hebrew calendar, a date that falls in late November or December. In 2018, Hanukkah begins at sundown Dec 2.

2018 Kwanzaa StampThe USPS also has announced its seventh Kwaanza stamp in the last 21 years. Kwanzaa takes place over seven days from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, celebrated by many African-Americans.

According to the USPS, “The stamp depicts a man, woman and child adorned in a mixture of western and traditional clothing, paying tribute to the holiday’s focus on the contemporary African-American experience, while also drawing on African roots. The family is gathered around a kinara (candleholder), the warm light from seven candles (mishumaa saba) illuminating their faces.”

Other important Kwanzaa symbols on the table include ears of corn (muhindi) and various fruits and vegetables (mazao); the unity cup (kikombe cha umoja); and the mkeka, (the straw mat on top of which everything is placed).

Created in 1966, Kwanzaa was conceived as a unifying holiday, drawing on African traditions, taking its name from a Swahili phrase meaning “first fruits.” With origins in Africa’s first-harvest festivities, Kwanzaa combines elements of many of these communal traditions in a contemporary celebration of African-American culture.

Artist Floyd Cooper worked with art director Derry Noyes, who designed the Forever-rate stamp.

On July 26, the USPS delivered first day of issue details on the preceding stamps. The Global Poinsettia will be issued August 26 in Kansas City, Missouri, although no first-day event is planned. The “Madonna and Child” stamp will be released October 3 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The Kwanzaa stamp will be released October 10 in Raleigh, Virginia, and the new Hanukkah stamp October 16 in Newport, Rhode Island.

Sparkling Santas

A se-tenant issue of four “Sparkling Holidays” Forever-rate stamps depicting classic images of Santa Claus painted by famed commercial artist Haddon Sundblom was previously announced and featured on the APS Blog on June 26 (“US Postal Service to issue Iconic Santa Stamps“). These four stamps will be issued October 11 in Pigeon Ford, Tennessee.

Additional information about the availability of these stamps and first-day-of-issue events will be provided by the USPS at a later date.

First Responders Stamp to be Dedicated

This year’s First Responders forever commemorative stamp from the U.S. Postal Service will be formally dedicated at aerial firefighting center in Montana.

The dedication will be at 11 a.m. Mountain Time September 13 at the Aerial Fire Depot and Smokejumper Center in Missoula, Montana. The base is located next to the Missoula International Airport.

Smokejumpers are a highly skilled, rapid response and operationally focused fire resource that provide initial attack suppression on emerging fires, according to the Missoula Smokejumpers Center website (

Currently, there are 75 smokejumpers, consisting of men and women from diverse backgrounds, stationed at the base. The range in age from the early 20s to the 50s, and considered “highly trained and experienced firefighters.”

Chief U.S. Postal Inspector Guy Cottrell, of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, will lead the dedication ceremony.

Artist Brian Stauffer worked with art director and designer Antonio Alcalá and designer Ricky Altizer to create the stamp, the first U.S. stamp to specifically honor firefighters, police officers and emergency medical personnel. Images of individuals from all three of those services are rendered in red, white and blue on the stamp.

US Postal Service to Issue Iconic Santa Stamps

WASHINGTON — It’s beginning to look like a classic Christmas! This October, the Postal Service will ring in the 2018 holiday season with four Sparkling Holidays stamps featuring character-rich close-ups of Santa Claus.

The Santa images are from Haddon Sundblom paintings created for The Coca-Cola Company holiday advertisements that ran from the1940s through the early 1960s. Sundblom, a famed commercial artist, depicted a rosy-cheeked, smiling, grandfatherly man in a red suit that came to embody the very essence of “Santa.”

The Sparkling Holidays stamps will be issued as Forever stamps. Forever stamps are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail 1-ounce price.

Additional details will be announced before the stamps’ release.

Blockbuster Annual Seminar for Philatelists Underway

For philatelists, the American Philatelic Society’s Summer Seminar on Philately is an annual touchstone event worthy of attention, respect and good times, and this year’s 39th annual gathering has the looks of one to remember.

More than 100 philatelists – including 83 enrolled in classes, 29 of them first-timers – will participate in the seminar, which runs from Sunday through June 29 at the American Philatelic Center in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.

Participants can partake in more than 20 classes, attend a first-day-of-issue stamp ceremony, bid on items at an auction, hear keynote speakers and enjoy meals and social events. They also will have time to visit, learn about and use the American Philatelic Research Library, which, like the APS, is housed in the center.

Here’s a summary of seminar highlights.

Randy Neil
Randy L.Neil, 2018 Distinguished Philatelist

Randy L. Neil will be honored at a dinner on Thursday, June 28 as this year’s Distinguished Philatelist. Neil – a longtime collector, author, editor and past president of the APS – is a 2000 recipient of the APS Luff Award.

Stamps to be Issued at APCA hobby that often makes the most of rarities will enjoy a rare in-person event at this year’s seminar – a first-day ceremony for a new U.S. stamp; well, actually three new stamps. The new $1, $2, and $5 Statue of Freedom stamps will be during the seminar at 11 a.m. Wednesday, June 27. There are a few dozen first-day ceremonies a year, but only a few have ever been held in Central Pennsylvania, the last being the nonprofit Lamb envelope of 1995.

Mary-Ann Penner, Director Stamp Services, USPS.
Mary-Ann Penner, Director Stamp Services, USPS.

On that same day, Mary-Anne Penner, director of Stamp Services for the U.S. Postal Service, will speak during a general session. Other general session speakers are Michael Baadke, editor of Linn’s Stamp News, on Monday; Bill Schultz, nationally accredited philatelic judge, on Tuesday; Justin Gordon, author and Holocaust postal historian on Thursday; and philatelic writer and author Kitty Wunderly, on Friday.

Variety is the keyword when it comes to course. There are more than 130 hours of instruction, including four- and two-day classes, plus electives. Major courses range from Stamp Technology and Intermediate Exhibiting to Washington-Franklins Expertizing and A Comprehensive Postal History of Great Britain, 1510-1850. Electives include King George V and the Royal Collection, First Day Covers in the Mailstream, WWI at the National Postal Museum and Spain’s Quinta de Goya Stamps of 1930.

Members of the Class of 2018 Young Philatelic Leaders Fellowship will be on hand, as well Class of 2017 member Ian Hunter, who received a youth scholarship in honor of Gerhard S. Wolff, sponsored by the Wolff family.

APS Executive Director Scott English will address participants at the opening night dinner, which will be followed by a scavenger hunt.

An in-house auction with more than 250 lots will be held Tuesday evening and a Buy, Sell and Trade Night is set or Wednesday.

The APRL offers a station-by-station tour after hours on June 25. Throughout the week, there are extended hours for the APRL, Circuit Sales Division, the APS gift shop and Stamp and Cover store.