USA Philatelic Features Airmail, StampShow and More

USA Philatelic, the “official source of current stamps and stamp products from the U.S. Postal Service,” delivers more than a colorful showcase of new issues in its summer 2018 issue. “The Thrill of the Chase” on page 40 examines the world of collecting stamps by topic ‒ one of the highlights of this year’s StampShow/National Topical Stamp Show in Columbus, Ohio.

This year’s show will be co-hosted jointly by the APS and the American Topical Association (ATA), and will host the first-day-of-issue ceremony for the release of a quartet of new Forever-rate Dragons stamps.

ATA Journal Topical TimeDawn Hamman has a unique perspective on topical philately. Although she only recently began collecting in 2012, she has become an ardent advocate for that popular branch of the hobby, rapidly becoming a vice president of its American Topical Association and a frequent contributor to the ATA’s highly regarded journal, Topical Time.

Although many collectors specialize in stamp topics related to their professions and passions, Hamman notes that topical collecting is “very creative and flexible,” with no limitation on what you can collect or how you can collect it. Topicalists can create stamp, cover and cancel collections tailored to their interests, tastes and budgets.

Hamman looks forward to meeting, exchanging ideas and learning from other collectors at the Aug. 9-12 StampShow/NTSS, beginning with the release of the Dragons stamps Aug. 9 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. The APS hopes to see you there, too.

Also of interest to U.S. collectors in this issue of USA Philatelic is a cover story on stamps celebrating the centennial of U.S. airmail service and the dauntless daredevils who flew those early American mails equipped with little more than a compass and a canvas map.

For free copies of the quarterly USA Philatelic, call 1-800-782-6724, or visit usps.com/philatelic.

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

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.

Celebrating Lunar New Year Stamp Series Continues with Year of the Dog

The U.S. Postal Service kicks off its 2018 stamp program in January with a Lunar New Year forever stamp celebrating the Year of the Dog.

The stamp will be formally issued January 11 at the Chinatown Cultural Plaza in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Year of the Dog begins February 16 and ends February 4, 2019.

This is the 11th of 12 stamps in the Celebrating Lunar New Year series, which features primary art from illustrator Kam Mak, a Hong Kong-born artist who grew up in New York City’s Chinatown and now lives in Brooklyn.

The stamps in the current series, designed by Ethel Kessler, also incorporate elements from a previous Lunar New Year series: Clarence Lee’s intricate cut-paper design of a dog, and the Chinese character for “dog,” drawn in grass-style calligraphy by Lau Bun. Those elements graced U.S. Lunar New Year stamps issued found in stamps issued from 1992 through 2004.

The Lunar New Year is the most important holiday of the year for many Asian communities around the world and is celebrated primarily by people of Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tibetan and Mongolian heritage.

The U.S. Postal Service introduced its Celebrating Lunar New Year series, with stamps featuring artwork from Mak, in 2008. The series will continue through 2019 with a stamp for the Year of the Boar. Year of the Dog is being issued as a souvenir sheet of 12 self-adhesive Forever stamps.

The Year of the Dog illustration, originally created using oil paints on panel, depicts an arrangement of lucky bamboo (Dracaena braunii). To the right is a lozenge-shaped piece of red paper with the Chinese character “fu,” meaning good fortune, rendered in calligraphy — a common decoration on doors and entryways during Lunar New Year festivities.

Previous Years of the Dog started in January or February of 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994 and 2006.