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.

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.

Illinois Bicentennial Stamp Ceremony

by Steven J. Bahnsen

The U.S. Postal Service had a splendid ceremony for the Illinois Statehood forever stamp on March 5. Everything seemed to go right at the event held in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in downtown Springfield, Illinois.

In 1818, Illinois gained statehood. This stamp features a multicolored outline of the state with sun beams within the map rising from the bottom to the top. The stamp was issued in panes of 20.

More than 125 people attended the first-day ceremony, which started with dozens of students from the Glenwood High School chorus in Chatham, Illinois singing The Star-Spangled Banner and America the Beautiful.

The Postal Service had a roomy sales area staffed with friendly clerks in uniform. Other nearby clerks affixed postmarks onto covers with the new stamp. Museum volunteers handed out programs with a cancelled stamp on the outer envelope.

The master of ceremonies was John Reger of WICS-TV. Welcome and greetings were extended by Alan Lowe, executive director of the library and Randy Dunn, co-chairman of the Illinois Bicentennial Commission.

A group of volunteer firefighters presented the colors prior to the National Anthem and Invocation.

The stamp was dedicated by Jacqueline Strako, acting chief customer and marketing officer from the U.S. Postal Service.

Illinois Deputy Governor Leslie Munger gave a talk that preceded a video from Governor Bruce Rauner, who was in Chicago that day.

Springfield Mayor James Langfelder spoke, followed by Illinois State Historian Sam Wheeler, who had the closing remarks.