Statue of Freedom Stamps to be issued at APS headquarters

First responders – firefighters, law enforcement officers and emergency medical service professionals – will be honored sometime this year on a single commemorative stamp, according to a new schedule and announcement of new stamps from the U.S. Postal Service. The date and location of the stamp’s release was not announced.

A group of three high value stamps – $1, $2, $5 – featuring an image of the Statue of Freedom which stands atop the Capitol Dome also were announced. The stamps will have a formal first-day ceremony June 27 at the American Philatelic Center in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. The date – a Wednesday – coincides with the midway point of the American Philatelic Society’s annual Summer Seminar on Philately.

The new stamps were announced, along with a full calendar of release dates for other stamps from June through September.

Also newly released was a full design of the previously announced John Lennon stamp pane, which will be part of the Music Icons stamp series, whose previous releases have included stamps for Johnny Cash and Janis Joplin. The John Lennon pane of 16 features the same basic image design, but each of four rows features different colorations. Ablack-and-white photograph of Lennon seated at his white piano appears on the reverse side of the stamp pane, along with Lennon’s signature and the Music Icons series logo.

The complete summer release schedule is as follows (all stamps are first-class forever stamps unless noted):

$1, $2, $5 Statue of Freedom  June 27            Bellefonte, Pennsylvania

O Beautiful (pane of 20)         July 4  Colorado Springs, Colorado

WWI: Turning the Tide          July 27            Kansas City, Missouri

The Art of Magic (strip of 5)  August 7         Las Vegas, Nevada

Dragons (block of 4)   August 9         Columbus Ohio (StampShow)

U.S. Air Mail (red)     August 11       College Park, Maryland

John Lennon (Music Icons series; 4 colors)   September 7    New York City

Birds in Winter (block of four)           September 22 Quechee, Vermont

The Statue of Freedom Stamps to be formally issued at the headquarters of the American Philatelic Society feature the head of the statue that tops the United States Capitol dome, in a modern interpretation of an engraved vignette originally created for a 1923 stamp ($5 Head of Freedom Statue). The engraved artwork was originally created for the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing by John Eissler (1873–1962). Rendered in emerald green ($1), indigo ($2) and brick red ($5), the tightly cropped enlargements highlight the solid and dashed lines and the crosshatching characteristic of engraved illustrations. The $1 and $2 stamps will be sold in panes of 10; the $5 stamp in panes of four.

American sculptor Thomas Crawford (1814–1857) created the allegorical Statue of Freedom during the mid-1850s. She wears a variation on a Roman helmet — circled by stars, topped with an eagle head, and embellished by feathered plumes meant to evoke Native American headdress. Installation of the statue onto the new Capitol dome was completed in 1863.

All three stamps are printed in intaglio and were designed by Art Director Greg Breeding.

Likewise, the First Responders stamp was previously unannounced. The digital illustration is a symbolic scene that shows three first responders in profile, facing right, as they race into action. From left to right, the first figure is a firefighter carrying an axe. The second figure is an EMS worker, with the EMS Star of Life visible on her cap, upper arm and emergency bag. The third figure is a law-enforcement officer shining a flashlight toward unknown danger ahead.

The firefighter is in red, the EMS worker in white and the police officer in blue, colors that are both patriotic and symbolic of the profession. The dark background and signs of smoke in around the figures suggest the wide range of situations that demand the immediate attention of a first responder.

Artist Brian Stauffer worked with art director and designer Antonio Alcalá and designer Ricky Altizer to create this stamp.

USPS to Celebrate 100th Anniversary of U.S. Airmail Service

The U.S. Postal Service celebrates the centennial of official airmail service in the U.S. this year with a pair of new stamps, one of which will be issued today (May 1) in a ceremony at the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C.

Airmail service officially started May 15, 1918 with flights between Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as well as flights between Philadelphia and New York City.

The new blue-and-white United States Air Mail stamp – which is a forever first-class domestic commemorative – features a drawing of the type of plane typically used in the early days of airmail, a Curtiss JN-4H biplane. The stamp is printed in intaglio — a design engraved into the stamp paper – and has been produced in panes of 20. A stamp in dark red with the same design will be released this summer, also likely in Washington, D.C.

The first-day ceremony at 11 a.m. will be part of a day filled with events at the National Postal Museum.

The museum will open an exciting new exhibit – “Postmen of the Skies” – which also celebrates the centennial of airmail.

Pilot goggles, leggings, helmets and logbooks, along with route maps, telegrams and airmail-related pop culture artifacts, will invite visitors to witness and experience the birth of commercial aviation. Visitors will also experience rare historic photos and see an archival “you-are-there” video that tells the story of the origins of airmail.

The American Philatelic Society and the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum will host the launch of Stamp of the Century, a book about the famous philatelic error, the Inverted Jenny. The authors, Kellen Diamanti and Deborah Fisher, will be on hand from noon to 2 p.m. to talk with museum visitors and sign copies of their book, which will be for sale in the museum gift store. From 6 to 8 p.m. the next evening, the authors will be part of the museum’s History After Hours program for an evening book talk and signing. The book is also available from the APS at www.stamps.org/publications.

Two interactive events take off that day, as well. There will be an airmail-themed scavenger hunt and visitors can try their luck at an airmail board game.

After a series of experimental flights in previous years, the Post Office Department and U.S. Army worked cooperatively to launch official airmail service in 1918. Army planes and pilots were used to fly the first mail runs. The Post Office Department took charge of service later that summer, operating it from Aug. 12, 1918, through Sept. 1, 1927. The first east-west route (New York to Chicago) started December 18, 1918.

The stamp celebrates the courage of the pioneering airmail carriers and the foresight of those who fostered the new service and made it a success. Airmail delivery, daily except Sundays, became part of the fabric of the American economy and spurred the growth of the nation’s aviation industry.

Dan Gretta designed the stamp while Greg Breeding was art director.

Scheduled to speak at the first-day ceremony are Bill Harris, deputy director, Department of the Air Force; Susan Brownell, vice president of supply management for the United States Postal Service; Elliot Gruber, director, and Nancy Pope, head curator, both of the Smithsonian National Postal Museum.

Postal Service Hails Importance of STEM with New Stamps

The importance of education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics – known by the acronym STEM – is celebrated on a set of four new U.S. postage stamps issued April 6.

The stamps were dedicated during the 2018 USA Science & Engineering Festival at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.

The collage-style stamps are designed to pique the curiosity of the viewer, with each featuring a collage of faces, symbols, drawings and numbers that represent the complexity and interconnectedness of the STEM disciplines. The name of the discipline appears in white across a red field at the top left of each stamp. At the bottom left, the first letter of the discipline is found in a blue box with three stars to its left. The 20-stamp pane shows Science (S) stamps in a row of five across the top, following downward by Technology (T), Engineering (E) and Mathematics (M).

“In an increasingly competitive world, proficiency in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics — collectively known as STEM — is more critical than ever,” said U.S. Postal Service Marketing Vice President Steve Monteith, who dedicated the stamps.

Monteith also referenced the importance of STEM in the development of Informed Delivery, one of the Postal Service’s latest innovations. Informed Delivery allows customers to see a digital preview of their incoming physical mail and also allows customers to track packages and reschedule deliveries — all from the convenience of the user’s computer, tablet or mobile devices.

“Informed Delivery is one of our most exciting innovations and it’s already very popular with nearly 9 million users so far,” said Monteith.

Joining Monteith to unveil the stamps were Marc Schulman, executive director, USA Science & Engineering Festival; Kris Brown, deputy associate administrator for education, NASA; C. Mark Eakin, Ph.D., coordinator of Coral Reef Watch, NOAA; Kavya Kopparapu, finalist, Regeneron Science Talent Search; and Courtney Pine,kid reporter, Scholastic News Kids Press Corps. Danni Washington, of the USA Science & Engineering Festival, served as the ceremony’s emcee.

The stamp comes in pane of 20, including four different designs, one for each of the four STEM disciplines.

Artist David Plunkert worked with art director Antonio Alcalá to create these stamps.

APS Interview: A Youthful Perspective on Philately

At the First Day Ceremony for the Mister Rogers forever stamp, APS Editor Martin Miller had the opportunity to talk with Jessica Manack. Jessica, in attendance with her husband and their children, offered a modern perspective on Mister Rogers, stamps and collecting.

Listen to that interview here:

After the event, Jessica explored the APS website (www.stamps.org) and became one of the newest members of the APS. She has become a vocal proponent for both the hobby and the society.

Soakable Stamps Return As Postage Rates Fall!!!

The U.S. Postal Service announced today it will return to producing only soakable stamps by next year and it expects postage rates to drop 10 percent!!! Haha! April Fools!

I don’t suppose we caught too many of you with that one. How about the return of the penny postcard? Maybe stamps that are mini-drones and will fly special delivery letters to their destinations? Hey, we tried.

How about this: With the multitude of castles, knights and heraldry on stamps, we wondered if perhaps the best known symbol of April Fool’s – the jester – is found on our commemoratives.

Like fools, we rushed into our hunt and started scanning page after page of our favorite catalog. You can call us foolish, but we found a few. (If you like the idea of jesters or fools on stamps, don’t forget this year’s American Philatelic Society StampShow in Columbus, Ohio will be co-hosted by the American Topical Association, the go-to society for ALL collecting themes.)

So let’s get to our jesters. The jester – the king of fools – was the one character in a royal court that could get away with clowning around about the monarchy and its ways. But he’s not a real clown, so we disregarded clown stamps. Medieval court jesters wore bright, gaudy clothing – the color of the leggings are often different – and often wears a signature three-point Fool’s Hat with a bell on each point. He also carries a mock scepter called a bauble, which was adorned by a carved head or the inflated bladder of an animal (yuck, no foolin’).

Spani - Jester
Spain, Scott 3009

We start with a couple of real-life jesters, the first from Spain. A masterpiece painting by Diego Velázquez (1599-1660) – Portrait of Sebastián de Morra (1645) – appears on a 1999 stamp (Scott 3009) from Spain. De Morra was a court dwarf and jester in the court of Philip IV of Spain. The painting is in the Prado in Madrid.

Poland Jester Stamp
Poland, Scott 1607

Let’s stick to masterpieces, where we turn to a Polish stamp issued in 1968. The stamp features the 1862 painting known in short as Stańczyk, or The Jester, by Jan Matejko (1838-1893). Stańczyk (c. 1480-1560) was a popular figure who was jester to three kings. The painting shows the jester at a ball where he has just learned that the Russian army has captured Smolensk. Matejko created at least one other painting of him and there is a monument of the jester sitting on a bench in Niepołomice‎. The stamp (Scott 1607) is part of a set of eight stamps featuring Polish artworks.

Belgium Jester Stamp
Belgium, Scott B658

In 1959, Belgium issued a semipostal (a charity stamp) featuring a jester and cats (B658). The stamp raised money to fight tuberculosis. (Yes, we noticed the single-pointed hat; he’s a true fool to be misdressed.)

We may be foolhardy but we think Germany is king of jester stamps.

Germany, Scott B463

In 1970, Germany released a set of four marionettes semipostal stamps with one of them (B463) depicting a jester puppet.

Next comes the 1977 issue (Scott 1230) showing Scenes from the Till Eulenspiegel Folk Tales (c. 1350). Four scenes are shown with the jester-like Till in all four. In 2011, Germany commemorated the 500th anniversary of the first printing of the Till tales with another stamp, this one showing a jester in the center of the diamond-shaped stamp (Scott 2633) surrounded by other iconic items from the stories.

Germany, Scott 2633
Germany, Scott 1230
Germany, Scott 1544

Germany in 1988 issued a stamp (Scott 1544) honoring the 150th anniversary of the Mainz Carnival. The character does look a bit more like a clown than a jester, but we’ll accept him because of his Fool’s Hat.

 

Germany, Scott 2070

In 2000, the 175th anniversary of the Dusseldorf Carnival, is honored with a jester doing a cartwheel (Scott 2070).

Great Britain may have been home to several foolish monarchs over the centuries, but we really couldn’t find any pure jester stamps from the Brits.

Britain has, however, honored the jester-like figure of a puppet – Punch, from Punch and Judy fame – on a few occasions.

Great Britain, Scott 1306

The famous puppet and his cast of characters date back to 16th-century Italian commedia dell’arte, where it eventually moved and morphed. The figure who later became Mr. Punch made his first recorded appearance in England on May 9, 1662, traditionally reckoned as his birthday in the U.K. His outfitted like a jester, though his hat has but a single point with a tassel that flops over the front.

Great Britain booklet cover, 1991
Great Britain booklet cover, 1991

In 1990, Mr. Punch is one of eight stamps (Scott 1306) in the Smiles set, which also includes the Queen of Hearts and Stan Laurel. In 1991-92, an image of Punch showed up on the covers of a couple of booklets marking the 150th anniversary of Punch magazine. Mr. Punch is featured along with five other puppet characters on Punch & Judy set of 2001. Punch is listed as Scott 1987. The stamps came in various formats, including a presentation pack.

Great Britain, Scott 1985-1990

Thanks for playing along with our fool’s game. Next time we’ll tell you all about…