National Park Week 2017
Philatelic Reflections

As National Park Week in America concludes Sunday, many stamp collectors have reflected on the parks that have been so beautifully portrayed over the years on U.S. stamps.

Yellowstone National Park commemorative forever stamp issued in June 2016.

From Mike DePaz: The National Park Stamps from 2016 actually made me go to Yellowstone. I always wanted to see the buffaloes roaming free.

Bandalier National Monument commemorative forever stamp issued in June 2016.

From Melanie G. Rogers: The Bandalier National Monument stamp issued last year is special to me. I have visited that site.

10-cent Great Smoky Mountains commemorative stamp from 1934.

From Jeff Stage: The Great Smoky Mountains of 1934 always seemed pretty majestic to me. I easily remembered the stamp when I finally was able to visit there at the border of North Carolina and Tennessee.

Message in a bottle sent on the first day of issue for the 94-cent U.S. Virgin Islands airmail stamp issued in May 2008.

From Jay Bigalke: In May 2008, I traveled to the U.S. Virgin Islands for the first-day-of-issue ceremony for the St. John’s USVI airmail stamp (Scott C145). I wasn’t going to pass the opportunity up for creating cool souvenirs and I went all out. Taking advantage of the first-class parcel rate, I sent a message in a bottle to about 30 individuals complete with a drink umbrella, a rolled up message, and other island inspired decorations. Each bottle was franked with two of the new 94-cent stamps and received a first-day cancellation. The bottles then traveled through the mailstream to get to their destinations.

Stamp Madness — The Philatelic Final Four

The field in the American Philatelic Society’s 2017 Stamp Madness contest has been cut to just four stamps after an Elite Eight round that saw a couple of upsets, including a result that was tied online and broken by in-house votes at the American Philatelic Center.

The Stamp Madness Final Four pits the U.S. World’s Fair stamp of 1964 vs. Canada’s Eastern Farm of 1946 and the Elephant of Laos from 1958 against Southern Alps and Chapel from New Zealand.

Please vote via Facebook or Twitter to send your favorites to the championship round!

There were four brackets with four seeded contestants in each. The entire Europe and Afro-India fields have been eliminated, leaving stamps from the Americas and the Pacific divisions.

All of the second round matchups were close, including one — Laos vs. Japan — that was a tie in its online voting and was decided by live voting at APS headquarters. In another second-round matchup, No. 4 seed New Zealand turned back the pre-tournament favorite, U.S. Project Mercury, in a close battle.

Philatelic prizes will be awarded on a random drawing based on both our preview contest in which contestants picked the stamp they thought would win the game and from voting in the championship match.

But don’t hold back until the final to vote. Voting in the Philatelic Final Four will start tomorrow and is open through midnight, April 5.

Here are the capsule summaries of the Final Four contestants.

The Americas
United States (Seeded No. 1 in the Americas) – The artwork for the New York World’s Fair stamp of 1964 (Scott 1244) was created using the artwork of architectural illustrator John C. Wenrich, who worked on both the 1939 and 1964 New York fairs. The stamp features two of the fair’s prominent icons – “The Rocket Thrower” sculpture and the Unisphere globe. The World’s Fair stamp defeated UAR in Round 1 and Greece in Round 2.

Canada (Seeded No. 2 in the Americas) – The Eastern (sometimes Ontario) Farm scene stamp (Scott 268) of 1946 defeated Chad in the first round and India in the second. The stamp illustrates vital farm products and activities. The scene is a composite from four photographs. The farm house is from a photograph taken in Eastern Ontario, the barn from a farm in Western Ontario, the silo from Central Ontario, and the ploughmen and horses from Quebec. Designed by Herman Herbert Schwartz, vignette engraved by Warrell Hauck, and printed by Canadian Bank Note Co.

Pacific
Laos (Seeded No. 3 in the Pacific) – A set of seven Asian Elephants (Scott 41-47), including this handsomely dressed pachyderm (Scott 42), was issued in 1958. That year, engraver Jean Pheulpin (see French entry) received first prize for best French philatelic art for a stamp in this set.

New Zealand (Seeded No. 4 in the Pacific) – Southern Alps and Chapel (Scott 256) is part of the New Zealand Peace and Victory stamps of 1946, a set of 11 produced by Bradbury Wilkinson. The 9-cent stamp, dubbed A Spirit of Thankfulness, shows the chapel window at Waiho Gorge. The Franz Josef Glacier can be seen through the window.

The Guidelines
Choosing the field of just 16 special stamps for 2017 Stamp Madness wasn’t easy. Think about it: hundreds of thousands of stamps created worldwide since 1840. We needed a few guidelines to narrow the field. Here were the basic guidelines we used:
• Standard postage stamps only; no airmail, express mail, revenue stamps, etc.
• No specific images of individuals – kings, queens, scientists, musicians, etc.
• Avoid masterwork paintings and photos (statuary and buildings OK).
• Tried to be diverse to designs, colors, topics, and countries. Independent countries only, no colonies.
• No rarities – common stamps only.
• Stamps chosen are from post-WWII through 1970.

As it worked out, there are four general brackets based on geography: the Americas, Europe, Pacific, and Africa-to-India. The first two rounds have the Americas vs. Europe and Pacific vs. Africa-to-India. The top seeds will play the lowest seeds from the opposing bracket in Round 1.

Mississippi Statehood Stamp March 31

Mississippi Statehood
Mississippi Statehood

The United States Postal Service will honor the 200th anniversary of Mississippi Statehood with a new commemorative forever stamp being issued March 31 in Gulfport, Mississippi and nationwide.

Details on the ceremony in Gulfport and additional information on the stamp are provided in the USPS press release below.

[USPS Press Release]

Postal Service Saluting 200th Anniversary of Mississippi Statehood
New Forever Stamp Debuts at South Mississippi Bicentennial Celebration

What: The U.S. Postal Service commemorates the 200th anniversary of Mississippi becoming the 20th state on December 10, 1817. The Mississippi Statehood Forever stamp features a photograph taken by Lou Bopp in 2009. It shows a close-up of a musician’s hands as he plays his guitar. Mississippi is the birthplace of many legendary blues artists who created a uniquely American genre of music.

Continue reading “Mississippi Statehood Stamp March 31”

Protect Pollinators Stamps at APS StampShow in Richmond

The United States Postal Service announced in mid-March that it will issue the Protect Pollinators commemorative forever stamps August 3 in Richmond, Virginia. The ceremony for the stamps will take place during the American Philatelic Society’s StampShow. An exact time for the ceremony has not been determined.

The five stamps, to debut nationwide the same day, will be sold in a pane of 20 format with decorative selvage. Nearby is a preliminary image of the pane layout.

Here are some additional details about the stamp issue from the U.S. Postal Service:

Protect Pollinators
Protect Pollinators

Protect Pollinators
This stamp pays tribute to the beauty and importance of pollinators with stamps depicting two of our continent’s most iconic, the monarch butterfly and the western honeybee, each shown industriously pollinating a variety of plants native to North America. These particular species exemplify the ecological service provided by all pollinators, which include other insects, birds, and bats. Crop pollination by insects contributes approximately $15 billion of produce to the U.S. economy each year. Trending declines in their populations alert us that pollinators are helped by planting pollinator gardens with native flowers or heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables. Art director Derry Noyes designed this stamp pane with existing photographs.

Depression-Era Poster Art Featured on New U.S. Stamps

Striking imagery from Depression-era posters are featured on 10 new U.S. forever stamps formally issued today, March 7, in a first-day ceremony at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, New York. The stamps were produced in double-sided panes of 20 (convertible booklet format).

The posters depicted on the stamps were created by artists employed by the Work Projects Administration’s Federal Art Project’s Poster Division and created to support the civic-minded ideals of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal programs.

WPA Posters
WPA Posters

“It is undeniable that Franklin Delano Roosevelt understood the importance of visual design and how it could communicate powerful messages of optimism, hope and perseverance,” Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer Megan J. Brennan, who dedicated the stamps. “It is also fitting that these WPA posters are being memorialized on postage stamps, because President Roosevelt had a lifelong fascination with stamps as artwork.”

Brennan was joined at the stamp dedication ceremony by Paul Sparrow, director of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum; Anthony Musso, author and historian; and David B. Roosevelt, grandson of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.

“These stamps commemorate the work of my grandfather’s most ambitious New Deal program and the artwork generated from the WPA artists,” said Roosevelt. “Much of the artwork adorned public buildings built by WPA employees.”

The stamps feature 10 illustrative posters from the Library of Congress collection.

Formed in 1935 as the Works Progress Administration — renamed Work Projects Administration in 1939 — the WPA provided millions of jobs during the Great Depression. Lasting until 1943, the WPA’s Federal Art Program’s Poster Division was absorbed into World War II programs.

Antonio Alcalá served as the art director of the project and designed the stamps with Maribel O. Gray.