Frozen Treats Stamps With That Sweet Smell of Summer

The first scratch-and-sniff U.S. postage stamps will be released later this summer, according to a news release today from the U.S. Postal Service. 

The first-class forever stamps will add “the sweet scent of summer to letters of love, friendship, party invitations and other mailings” the USPS said in its release.

A first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony, free and open to the public, will take place on June 20 at 6 p.m. local time the Thinkery Children’s Museum in Austin, Texas.

Frozen Treats StampsThe stamps feature illustrations of frosty, colorful, icy pops on a stick. Today, Americans love cool, refreshing ice pops on a hot summer day. The tasty, sweet confections come in a variety of shapes and flavors.

Ice pops are made by large manufacturers, home cooks and artisanal shops. In recent years, frozen treats containing fresh fruit such as kiwi, watermelon, blueberries, oranges and strawberries have become more common. In addition, flavors such as chocolate, root beer and cola are also popular. Some frozen treats even have two sticks, making them perfect for sharing.

There are 10 designs – each showing two different treats – that will be sold in booklets of 20. The artwork showcases is from Margaret Berg, of Santa Monica, California, who depicted the whimsical illustrations in watercolors. The words “Forever” and “USA” appear along the bottom of each stamp.

Art director Antonio Alcalá of Alexandria, Virginia, designed the stamps with Leslie Badani of Alexandria, Virginia.

A Postal Service spokesman declined to say if the 10 stamps would have the same or a variety of aromas, noting that information will be released when the stamps are issued. He also noted that the technology used for the stamps will also be explained at that time.

The Frozen Treats stamps represent the third time in a year that new U.S. stamps have featured innovative technology. One June 14, 2017, the USPS issued eight Have a Ball stamps. It was the first time the U.S. issued touch-and-feel stamps in which the stamps had the feel of the sports ball shown. Six days later, on June 20, the USPS issued the Solar Eclipse stamp in which an image of the Moon was hidden behind dark, thermochromic ink until it was warmed, such as by the heat of a thumb’s touch.

The U.S. is a bit behind the world in scratch-and-sniff technology on postage stamps. Bhutan issued the world’s first such stamps in 1973 with stamps that smell like roses, according to an article published May 1, 2015 in Linn’s Stamp News.

The American Topical Association lists 114 stamps on its check list of scented stamps. Roses remain a popular scent on the list along with such fragrances as chocolate, vanilla and coffee, according to the article in Linn’s. Other scents you can find on stamps include honey, cinnamon, pine, apple, lemon, sweet-and-sour pork and fire (burnt wood).

 

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.

Postal Service and Postal Museum Unveil New Stamp, Exhibit

There was no Blue Angels flyover, but there were still plenty of planes overhead in the atrium of the Smithsonian National Postal Museum, where dozens gathered Tuesday for the unveiling of the U.S. Postal Service’s “Air Mail Blue” stamp and the opening of the museum’s “Postmen of the Skies” exhibit.

The stamp, printed in blue and donning a classical look, celebrates the 100th anniversary of the U.S. airmail service and features a drawing of a Curtiss JN-4H biplane.

Another stamp with the same design but printed in red will be issued Aug. 11 in College Park, Maryland to commemorate the transfer of airmail service from the U.S. Army to the Post Office Department.

“Airmail service has been one of our organization’s most significant contributions to America’s growth,” said Postal Service Vice President of Supply Management Susan Brownell. “Single-person flights, carrying bags of mail from one city to another, eventually led to a world-shaping passenger aviation industry and transportation network.”

The Postmen of the Skies exhibit explores the beginning of the U.S. airmail service and the pilots who first flew the mail. The exhibit features items worn by the airmail pilots and tells their stories.

“Our new exhibition invites visitors to witness and experience the birth of commercial aviation,” Director of the National Postal Museum Elliot Gruber said. “Actually, one of the pilots featured in the exhibition flew the De Havilland DH-4 airplane that hangs above our heads right here.”

The exhibit also displays a 1929 airmail board game in which “players rolled dice to move forward and the first pilot to deliver their six letters won the game,” according to the exhibit.

The U.S. airmail service began May 15, 1918 when “a small group of Army pilots delivered mail along a route that linked Washington, Philadelphia, and New York City,” according to the Postal Service.

Head Curator Nancy Pope detailed the story of the first airmail flight.

“Unfortunately for the Post Office, [pilot George] Boyle didn’t head north. He headed southeast and crashed in Waldorf, Maryland,” she said. “His mail was put on a truck to DC and unceremoniously put on a train to New York City. Fortunately, for the Post Office Department, the other three pilots did a magnificent job that day.”

Those three delivered the mail successfully.

Bill Harris, deputy director of Air Force history and museums policies and programs at the Pentagon, noted, ““[The airmail operation] helped redefine the use of aircraft and its role in military doctrine that would be sorely tested in the skies above Europe and the Pacific during the second world war and beyond.”

Today, the Postal Service still uses planes to fly the mail but does not have an official airmail service. The organization uses contractors to carry airmail.

 by Tasos Kalfas, @TasosKalfasWRGW

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.

Postmaster General Calls on Congress to Enact Postal Reform

WASHINGTON—Postmaster General Megan Brennan called for sweeping postal reform at the U.S. Postal Service’s Temporary Emergency Committee meeting Friday morning, as the Postal Service faces another year of financial losses.

“Despite our best efforts, under the current legal framework we will not be able to stem the tide of our ongoing losses and return to financial stability without legislative change,” she said.

Brennan called on Congress to pass the Postal Reform Act of 2017 and to confirm President Trump’s nominees to the currently-vacant Postal Service Board of Governors.

According to the Postal Service’s website, the board is responsible for implementing an array of postal policies, including the company’s budget and long-term planning.

President Trump made three nominations to the board in October, but the Senate has yet to confirm them.

The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, which oversees postal policy and is responsible for initial confirmation of the Board nominees, did not respond to our emails asking when nominee confirmations might occur.

Nonetheless, Brennan was hopeful that the nominees would be confirmed soon.

“We’re encouraged, in talking with some of our key public officials, that they understand the urgency of this,” she said in a web conference. “As we’ve said from the outset…we are best served, as is the American public, by having a fully constituted board, so I’m optimistic we’ll have them confirmed and on board by our next scheduled meeting.”

As for the Postal Reform Act of 2017, former Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, introduced the bill in January of last year, but Congress has made no recent move to approve the bill.

If passed, the bill would amend the Postal Service’s employee and retiree health benefits and revise rules surrounding postal rate changes. The bill would also allow the Postal Service to work with state and local authorities to provide government goods and services and would encourage the use of centralized delivery, through which customers can opt to pick up their mail at a centralized location instead of at their front door.

The bill establishes a Postal Service “Chief Innovation Officer” to focus on innovation within the company and would reduce the number of seats on the Board of Governors to five, which has historically consisted of nine governors, who serve seven-year terms.

At Friday’s meeting, Chief Financial Officer Joe Corbett outlined the Postal Service’s financial results in quarter one of fiscal year 2018. The Postal Service faced a net loss of $540 million, as first class mail revenues declined about four percent and marketing mail revenues declined about five percent. With the holiday season, package revenues increased around nine percent and international mail revenues increased around the same amount. However, this was not enough to offset the losses.

Brennan attributed the Postal Service’s financial troubles to the high cost of employee benefit programs and to the Congressional mandate to deliver to every American home and business. She suggested that the price cap on stamps and mail services prevents the Postal Service from earning enough revenue to cover costs. She also noted that current regulations limit the Postal service’s “ability to pursue new sources of revenue.”

The National Association of Letter Carriers, the national labor union for city-delivery mail carriers, released a statement on the Postal Service’s first quarter results, echoing the Postmaster General’s call for action from Congress.

“Congress should address the pre-funding burden it imposed in 2006, which requires USPS — alone among all public and private entities — to prefund future retiree healthcare benefits decades into the future,” they wrote. “This produces an onerous annual burden of billions of dollars.”

The only current postal legislation being considered by Congress is the renaming of post offices, a common practice to honor community leaders and other important officials.

by Tasos Kalfas, @TasosKalfasWRGW