Martin Luther King Jr. on Worldwide Stamps

Today’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day is the 32nd annual federal holiday first honoring the slain civil rights leader, who has appeared on more than 100 stamps worldwide.

King (January 15, 1929–April 4, 1968) was a prime force in the civil rights who was awarded the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize and posthumously the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1977) and Congressional Gold Medal (2004).

Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established in 1983 and first celebrated in 1986. It is annually on the third Monday of January to coincide with actually birthday — January 15 — of the slain civil rights leader. King has been honored on two U.S. stamps and as image is used as the central focal point on a 10-stamp pane dedicated to the civil rights movement.

King was first honored on a U.S. stamp as the second subject of the then-new Black Heritage series (Scott 1771). His stamp, a year after a Harriet Tubman commemorative, was issued January 13, 1979.

King and his “I Have a Dream Speech” are honored on the top-left stamp (Scott 3188a) of the 15-stamp Celebrate the Century 1960s pane of 15, issued September 17, 1999. The dynamic speech — delivered August 28, 1963 from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. — is considered a masterpiece by many. Like the U.S., in 1999, Belgium included an image of King with text from the speech in the background (Scott 1779f).

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Canada 150 Celebration Starts With Year of the Rooster Stamp

This year marks Canada’s 150th celebration and the nation started honoring the anniversary with its first stamp issue, the Year of the Rooster stamps issued on January 9. “Canada 150” appears in the tagging on the stamp issue. Collectors should pay attention closely to future Canadian stamp issues this year because the sesquicentennial will be incorporated somehow into future releases.

Here is Canada Post’s press release on the new stamp issue:

Canada Post welcomes Lunar New Year with stamp issue
Year of the Rooster stamps shine with gold accents

OTTAWA – Canada Post will greet the Year of the Rooster with a two-stamp issue, the ninth in its most recent series honoring the Lunar New Year. A Permanent™ domestic-rate stamp featuring a rooster image, with its chest proudly puffed out, is paired with an international-rate stamp offering a close-cropped profile view of the rooster’s stately face. Both images are created from lines of gold foil.

“Canada Post is proud to celebrate the vibrant and festive occasion that is the Lunar New Year, which is marked by Canadians of Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and other East Asian heritage,” says Canada Post President and CEO Deepak Chopra. “The annual unveiling of this stamp issue has become a much-anticipated event, with the artistry of the series praised by both collectors and mailers.”

Designed by Paprika, a firm in Montréal, the stamps include several features:
•    The pane of 25 domestic-rate stamps includes four Chinese blessings, presented in calligraphy by Albert Ng.
•    While all 2017 stamps include elements that point to Canada’s sesquicentennial, this issue’s reference is two-fold. “Canada 150” appears dropped out of the tagging that surrounds the stamps, an effect visible only under a black light. However, on the uncut press sheet and pane of 25 domestic stamps, a gold foil sesquicentennial logo is visible to the naked eye.
•    The international-rate official first day cover (OFDC), which also features a traditional Chinese blessing, is unsealed to enable the Chinese New Year tradition of giving money in a red envelope.

The Year of the Rooster arrives on January 28, 2017, and runs until February 15, 2018. Those born under this sign are honest, courageous and confident. Marked for success, they achieve their goals through a combination of wit, charm and hard work.

Both the domestic and international rate stamps are self-adhesive and measure 32 mm x 32 mm. The domestic stamp is available in booklets of 10 and panes of 25, and the international stamp in booklets of 10. The issue also includes a gummed souvenir sheet of both stamps, a gummed transitional souvenir sheet featuring both the 2016 Year of the Monkey and 2017 Year of the Rooster international stamps, an uncut press sheet and Official First Day Covers for both stamp denominations.

Royal Mail Announces Special 2017 Stamps

Royal Mail has announced its schedule for its “special stamp program” for 2017. Stamps to be issued include castles, birds, windmills, and more. A tentative issuance schedule is found below the press release. Additional stamp issues are anticipated to be announced at a future date.

[Royal Mail January 2, 2017 Press Release]

ROYAL MAIL REVEALS ITS SPECIAL STAMP PROGRAM FOR 2017
•    Royal Mail’s Special Stamp program commemorates anniversaries and celebrates events relevant to UK heritage and life
•    Windsor Castle, the world’s oldest and largest occupied castle and an official residence of HM The Queen, will be celebrated with a set of 10 stamps launched in February
•    The 1989 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Desert ‘Dessie’ Orchid is included in Racehorse Legends. The stamp set features original artwork of eight champion horses achieving their greatest wins on UK race courses over six decades
•    The Wren, the most common UK breeding bird, is included in the  Songbirds issue – featuring 10 beautiful birds that herald spring and summer

Royal Mail’s 2017 Special Stamp program is set to showcase the “Best of British” in a range of subjects from some of the greatest racehorses from the past six decades to beautiful birds that herald spring and summer in the UK.

Windsor Castle, the oldest inhabited castle in world and an official residence of HM The Queen, is celebrated with iconic views of both the interior and exterior of the castle. Featured in the set is an image of the world-famous Round Tower that has dominated the Berkshire skyline for over 800 years.

Racehorse Legends will feature eight champion horses that achieved their greatest wins on UK race courses over the last six decades. The stamp issue features original artwork commissioned by Royal Mail of four flat racers and four national hunt horses captured in action during the course of their iconic wins. Included in the stamp issue is Desert ‘Dessie’ Orchid winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1989.

The Songbirds issue in May will present 10 beautiful birds that herald spring and summer in the UK.

2017 Special Stamp Program
January                       Ancient Britain
February                     Windsor Castle
April                            Racehorse Legends
May                             Songbirds
June                             Windmills and Watermills
July                              First World War: 1917
July                              Landmark Buildings
August                         Classic Toys
November                    Christmas

Happy New Year! Goodbye 2016 and Welcome 2017

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.

Inverted Jenny, Position 76.
Inverted Jenny, Position 76.

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.

American Philatelic Research Library.
American Philatelic Research Library.

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.

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The Nativity — The Manger

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 2016 stamp with a silhouette design was just the third U.S. stamp showing a manger scene.
The 2016 stamp with a silhouette design was just the third U.S. stamp showing a manger scene.

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.