USPS Releases “Sneak Peek” of 2018 New Issues

Yesterday, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) offered a sneak peek of their planned new issues for 2018. In a press release including images of the issues announced, the USPS highlighted “a portion of its 2018 stamp program.”

The new issues include Forever stamp designs honoring Mister Rogers, Lena Horne, John Lennon and Sally Ride. Additional stamps will include:

– American landscapes to commemorate the song, “America the Beautiful”;

– Frozen treats that depict various popsicles and frozen confections;

– Four designs celebrating the role of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education;

– a celebration of Illinois statehood;

– the American sacrifices in World War I, and;

– much more including bioluminescent creatures, magic tricks and mythical dragons.

No issuance dates or other detailed information was released and the Postal Service did state that the designs and details are subject to change until the actual release of the stamps.

You can find even more information about the announcement, including stamp images on the APS Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/american.philatelic.society

You can also ready the full release from the U.S. Postal Service at: http://bit.ly/2AAync9

Smithsonian National Postal Museum Holds Holiday Card Workshop

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Postal Museum was bustling with visitors Saturday as the museum held its annual holiday card workshop.

Visitors of all ages attended the event, at which they could design their own holiday greeting cards.

NPM Attendees

As visitors entered the museum atrium, they started by choosing two pieces of cardstock, one large and one small. They then moved to embellish their cards with stickers, twine, and other materials available at the various craft stations. Visitors could sit at the tables in the atrium to assemble their cards with glue, scissors and other materials.

The museum’s Post Office was open for visitors to mail their cards affixed with the museum’s special postmark.

The museum also provided a photo booth for visitors to share their photos on social media using the hashtag #nationalpostalmuseum.

Sponge Bob MailboxIn addition to the card making, visitors had the opportunity to write holiday messages to families at The Children’s Inn, an organization that provides housing and support for families with children receiving care at the National Institutes of Health. Visitors wrote messages on Spongebob-themed postcards and deposited them in a special Spongebob-themed mailbox. Director of Education Matthew White said he saw both parents children deposit postcards.

Referring to the Spongebob postcards, Public Programs Manager Motoko Hioki noted in an email, “The letter writing set up is still there in the museum atrium…if anyone wants to participate in the letter writing, they are welcome to do so at the museum until Thursday, December 14th.”

The Postal Museum holds several public events throughout the year, including another card workshop around Valentine’s Day. Volunteer Coordinator Maggie Sigle said the museum also does letter writing campaigns around Veterans Day for Operation Gratitude, an organization that sends care packages and letters to U.S. troops and first responders.

Hioki, who organizes the museum’s public events, detailed their Wine and Design program, available as a once-a-month happy hour event. At these programs, people can come to the museum after hours and complete various postal-related arts and crafts. The events typically occur once a month.

Hioki was instrumental in starting the Wine and Design program at the museum. “People don’t write letters anymore,” she said. “Encouraging people to write is something important to me.”

The Postal Museum continues to provide educational activities for the general public to learn more about stamps, postal history, and the stamp collecting hobby. It is open seven days a week, from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm.

 by Tasos Kalfas, @TasosKalfasWRGW

All photos courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution National Postal Museum

YPL Fellow Dani Leviss Interviewed by Lloyd de Vries

Young Philatelic Leaders Fellow Dani Leviss was recently interviewed by Lloyd de Vries for The Virtual Stamp Club. The interview can be heard with the audio player below or on The Virtual Stamp Club interviews page.

The Young Philatelic Leaders Fellowship program was founded by the American Philatelic Society in 2009 to identify and support the best and brightest aspiring philatelists. The program coordinates and funds transportation to, lodging during, and activities at: APS national shows, Smithsonian National Postal Museum, and the American Philatelic Center for enthusiastic young collectors between the ages of 16 and 24. Additionally, YPLF connects participating Fellows with seasoned collectors, exhibitors, writers, and dealers to expand their perspectives and exposure in the philatelic world.

Alzheimer’s Semipostal Will Be Issued November 30

The U.S. Postal Service will issue its next semipostal – the Alzheimer’s stamp – November 30 at the Johns Hopkins Asthma & Allergy Center Atrium, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, in Baltimore, Maryland.

The stamp, priced at 60 cents, will be available nationwide that day. The price includes the first-class single-piece postage rate in effect at the time of purchase plus an amount to fund Alzheimer’s research. By law, revenue from sales of the Alzheimer’s semipostal — minus the postage paid and the reimbursement of reasonable costs incurred by the Postal Service — will be distributed to the National Institutes of Health, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

2008 42-cent Alzheimer’s Awareness stampIf the stamp looks familiar, you’re correct. The artwork is an illustration that first appeared on the 2008 42-cent Alzheimer’s Awareness stamp. It shows an older woman in profile with a caring hand on her shoulder with the suggestion of sunlight behind her and clouds in front of and below her. On the 2008 stamp, she was facing left; the artwork for this stamp shows her facing right to help differentiate between the two stamps.

Stamp artist Matt Mahurin, of Topanga Canyon, California, created the stamp with the direction of art director Ethel Kessler of Bethesda, Maryland.

President Ronald Reagan designated November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month in 1983. At the time, fewer than 2 million Americans were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s; today, that number has soared to nearly 5.4 million.

The first-day event will be free admission and open to the public, though an RSVP is required to attend the ceremony. Those interested can RSVP at usps.com/alzheimers.

Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer Megan J. Brennan will dedicate the stamp. In attendance will be Kathy Siggins of Mount Airy, Maryland, who followed the discretionary semipostal program criteria for submitting the stamp suggestion. Siggins’ husband succumbed to the disease in 1999.

Customers may pre-order the stamps at usps.com/shop in early November for delivery shortly after the Nov. 30 issuance.

Semipostal Stamps

The U.S. Postal Service has issued four previous semipostals, starting with the Breast Cancer Research in 1998, which was reissued in 2014. Subsequent semipostals have been the Heroes of 2001 (2002), Stop Family Violence (2003) and Save Vanishing Species (2011).

The Semipostal Authorization Act grants the U.S. Postal Service discretionary authority to issue and sell semipostal fundraising stamps to advance such causes as it considers to be ‘‘in the national public interest and appropriate.’’ Under the program, the Postal Service intends to issue five semipostal fundraising stamps over a 10-year period, with each stamp to be sold for no more than two years.

The Alzheimer’s semipostal stamp will be followed by a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) semipostal in 2019. The next three discretionary semipostal stamps have not yet been determined.

Under the Act, the Postal Service will consider proposals for future semipostals until May 20, 2023.

USPS Board of Governors Gets First Nominations After Being Vacant for a Year

WASHINGTON, DC – On Monday, President Donald Trump made his first nominations to the United States Postal Service Board of Governors, which has been vacant since December 2016.

Nominees Robert Duncan, Calvin Tucker, and David Williams hope to join the Board, which is responsible for implementing an array of postal policies, including the USPS budget and long-term planning, according to the USPS website. Governors serve seven-year terms and cannot serve more than two terms.

Robert Duncan, a Republican from Kentucky, is a former chairman of the Republican National Committee (2007-2009) and currently serves as chairman of the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships. Calvin Tucker is from Pennsylvania, and David Williams is from Illinois.

To take office, the three nominees have to be confirmed by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and then by the entire Senate. Their confirmation hearings are not yet scheduled.

Postmaster General Megan Brennan welcomed the nominations in a statement saying, “The public interest and the Postal Service are best served by a fully constituted Board made up of well-qualified individuals with diverse perspectives and experience.

USPS contractors have also expressed delight at the new nominations. BCC Software, which builds software for the USPS, said on their website, “…we are hoping for a quick Senate confirmation. It is also worth noting that there are open positions on the Postal Regulatory Commission as well and the potential implications that could have.” The Commission is responsible for overseeing postal rate changes and has one vacant seat.

Six nominations are still needed to complete the Board of Governors, which has historically been comprised of nine members, the Postmaster General, and the Deputy Postmaster General.

It is unclear when further nominations will be made.

by Tasos Kalfas, @TasosKalfasWRGW