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.

Soakable Stamps Return As Postage Rates Fall!!!

The U.S. Postal Service announced today it will return to producing only soakable stamps by next year and it expects postage rates to drop 10 percent!!! Haha! April Fools!

I don’t suppose we caught too many of you with that one. How about the return of the penny postcard? Maybe stamps that are mini-drones and will fly special delivery letters to their destinations? Hey, we tried.

How about this: With the multitude of castles, knights and heraldry on stamps, we wondered if perhaps the best known symbol of April Fool’s – the jester – is found on our commemoratives.

Like fools, we rushed into our hunt and started scanning page after page of our favorite catalog. You can call us foolish, but we found a few. (If you like the idea of jesters or fools on stamps, don’t forget this year’s American Philatelic Society StampShow in Columbus, Ohio will be co-hosted by the American Topical Association, the go-to society for ALL collecting themes.)

So let’s get to our jesters. The jester – the king of fools – was the one character in a royal court that could get away with clowning around about the monarchy and its ways. But he’s not a real clown, so we disregarded clown stamps. Medieval court jesters wore bright, gaudy clothing – the color of the leggings are often different – and often wears a signature three-point Fool’s Hat with a bell on each point. He also carries a mock scepter called a bauble, which was adorned by a carved head or the inflated bladder of an animal (yuck, no foolin’).

Spani - Jester
Spain, Scott 3009

We start with a couple of real-life jesters, the first from Spain. A masterpiece painting by Diego Velázquez (1599-1660) – Portrait of Sebastián de Morra (1645) – appears on a 1999 stamp (Scott 3009) from Spain. De Morra was a court dwarf and jester in the court of Philip IV of Spain. The painting is in the Prado in Madrid.

Poland Jester Stamp
Poland, Scott 1607

Let’s stick to masterpieces, where we turn to a Polish stamp issued in 1968. The stamp features the 1862 painting known in short as Stańczyk, or The Jester, by Jan Matejko (1838-1893). Stańczyk (c. 1480-1560) was a popular figure who was jester to three kings. The painting shows the jester at a ball where he has just learned that the Russian army has captured Smolensk. Matejko created at least one other painting of him and there is a monument of the jester sitting on a bench in Niepołomice‎. The stamp (Scott 1607) is part of a set of eight stamps featuring Polish artworks.

Belgium Jester Stamp
Belgium, Scott B658

In 1959, Belgium issued a semipostal (a charity stamp) featuring a jester and cats (B658). The stamp raised money to fight tuberculosis. (Yes, we noticed the single-pointed hat; he’s a true fool to be misdressed.)

We may be foolhardy but we think Germany is king of jester stamps.

Germany, Scott B463

In 1970, Germany released a set of four marionettes semipostal stamps with one of them (B463) depicting a jester puppet.

Next comes the 1977 issue (Scott 1230) showing Scenes from the Till Eulenspiegel Folk Tales (c. 1350). Four scenes are shown with the jester-like Till in all four. In 2011, Germany commemorated the 500th anniversary of the first printing of the Till tales with another stamp, this one showing a jester in the center of the diamond-shaped stamp (Scott 2633) surrounded by other iconic items from the stories.

Germany, Scott 2633
Germany, Scott 1230
Germany, Scott 1544

Germany in 1988 issued a stamp (Scott 1544) honoring the 150th anniversary of the Mainz Carnival. The character does look a bit more like a clown than a jester, but we’ll accept him because of his Fool’s Hat.

 

Germany, Scott 2070

In 2000, the 175th anniversary of the Dusseldorf Carnival, is honored with a jester doing a cartwheel (Scott 2070).

Great Britain may have been home to several foolish monarchs over the centuries, but we really couldn’t find any pure jester stamps from the Brits.

Britain has, however, honored the jester-like figure of a puppet – Punch, from Punch and Judy fame – on a few occasions.

Great Britain, Scott 1306

The famous puppet and his cast of characters date back to 16th-century Italian commedia dell’arte, where it eventually moved and morphed. The figure who later became Mr. Punch made his first recorded appearance in England on May 9, 1662, traditionally reckoned as his birthday in the U.K. His outfitted like a jester, though his hat has but a single point with a tassel that flops over the front.

Great Britain booklet cover, 1991
Great Britain booklet cover, 1991

In 1990, Mr. Punch is one of eight stamps (Scott 1306) in the Smiles set, which also includes the Queen of Hearts and Stan Laurel. In 1991-92, an image of Punch showed up on the covers of a couple of booklets marking the 150th anniversary of Punch magazine. Mr. Punch is featured along with five other puppet characters on Punch & Judy set of 2001. Punch is listed as Scott 1987. The stamps came in various formats, including a presentation pack.

Great Britain, Scott 1985-1990

Thanks for playing along with our fool’s game. Next time we’ll tell you all about…

Dragons Will Invade American Philatelic Society’s StampShow

You may want to consider packing some heavy armor, shields, crossbows, magic potions or anything else that might tame or slay a dragon if you plan on visiting Columbus, Ohio this August.

The U.S. Postal Service will issue four new Dragons stamps during StampShow, scheduled for August 9 to 12 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio.

StampShow – sponsored by the American Philatelic Society – is the nation’s largest annual philatelic show and promises to be more exciting than ever. This is first time the show will be co-sponsored with the American Topical Association, the group that helps collect stamps by topics, such as heraldry, legends and dragons.

The show will offer philatelic activities, exhibits and experiences, making it an event for collectors and non-collectors of all ages. There will be hundreds of exhibits, stamp rarities on display, specialty societies on hand, presentations, youth and beginners’ activities and dozens of dealer booths. The U.S. Postal Service plans to be at the show with an extraordinary booth.

Something sure to make the show more enjoyable will be the society’s new mobile app for the show, scheduled for release May 1.

StampShow, which moves among locations annually, will serve as the 132nd convention of the society, which has about 29,000 members worldwide.

The four new U.S. stamps will be issued in panes of 16.

“The high-flying, fire-breathing mythological creatures … have roamed our imaginations for millennia,” the Postal Service said in a news release.

The stamps feature digital illustrations created by artist Don Clark of Invisible Creature studio. Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamps.

The designs show:

A green fire-breathing dragon towering over a medieval-inspired castle.

A purple dragon with orange wings and sharp black armor on its back snaking around a white castle that evokes Camelot.

A black dragon with green wings and green armor on its back swooping past a ship on the sea.

A wingless orange dragon, inspired by creatures from Asian art, architecture and ancient religion and lore, weaving its way around a pagoda.

“We’re very excited to bring these beautiful stamps to the 132nd annual APS convention,” said U.S. Postal Service Stamp Services Director Mary-Anne Penner. “This is one of the premier stamp shows in America and serves as an excellent platform to showcase these special stamps.”

“We’re thrilled to have USPS unveil these great stamps with us in Columbus,” said Scott English, APS executive director. “There will be something for the whole family highlighting this cool theme. No experience necessary, so we hope you will join us!”

The U.S., not home to many dragons of lore, has not issued many stamps with dragons; maybe just a couple from Lunar New Year series. The 2000 Lunar New Year stamp (Scott 3370) features a paper-cut styled dragon to mark the Year of the Dragon. The 2012 Lunar New Year stamp (Scott 4623) features a colorful dragon head of the type used in parades and celebrations. Many European and Asian countries have included dragons on stamp. They include Austria, Cambodia, China, Great Britain (including this year’s Game of Thrones set), Japan, Jersey and the Philippines.

More information about StampShow and the APS can be found online at https://stamps.org/STAMPSHOW-SS.

More information from the U.S. Postal Service can be found online at: https://aps.buzz/2GaraS0

Love Flourishes on New U.S. Forever Stamp

The U.S. Postal Service today celebrated love of all kinds with the dedication of the Love Flourishes forever stamp during a first-day-of-issue ceremony at the Creativation conference held at the Phoenix, Arizona Convention Center. The conference, sponsored by the Association For Creative Industries, is a trade show for all aspects of the arts-and-crafts business.

Love Flourishes is the latest stamp in the popular Love series, which began 45 years ago. The stamp is being sold in panes of 20.

The stamp art features a fanciful garden of colorful flowers surrounding the word “Love” written in cursive script. Hand-painted by artist Anna Bond, the flower garden includes stylized roses, peonies and dahlias in pink, coral and yellow, with pale blue-green berries and fold fronds and leaves.

Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamp with Bond’s original art.

Lena Horne and Mister Rogers Among 10 New Stamps Scheduled for First Quarter

The U.S. Postal Service has released issue dates and cities for 10 stamps to be issued in the first quarter of 2018. All are single-stamp issues with the exception of the 10-stamp Bioluminescent Life issue.

The year’s first stamp will be the Year of the Dog Lunar New Year forever stamp scheduled for a January 11 release in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Other stamps (all are first-class forever stamps unless noted), first-day dates and locations are:

Love Flourishes, which is part of the ongoing Love series, January 18, in Phoenix, Arizona.

Byodo-In Temple, a popular tourist attraction in Hawaii, $6.70 Priority Mail, January 21, in Kansas City, Missouri.

Sleeping Bear Dunes, a national park in Michigan, American Landmarks series, $24.70 Priority Mail Express, January 21, in Kansas City, Missouri.

Meyer Lemons, ongoing Fruits definitive, 2 cents, January 19, in Kenner, Louisiana, the first day of the Crescent City Stamp Club’s two-day Winter Stamp Fest and Postcard Show.

Lena Horne, part of the Black Heritage series, January 30, New York City.

U.S. Flag, February 9, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The date coincides with the first day of the three-day American Stamp Dealers Association Winter Postage Stamp Show.

Bioluminescent Life, 10 stamps, February 22 in Fort Pierce, Florida, home of the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute.

Illinois Statehood, March 5, in Springfield, Illinois, the state capital.

Mister Rogers, children’s television pioneer Fred Rogers (1928–2003), March 23, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.