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Stamps To Entertain You In 2004
By Lloyd A. de Vries

The public tells the U.S. Postal Service it wants "pretty" stamps, so in 2004, they're getting both a candy-hearts love stamp and two flower stamps for wedding invitations, along with a beautiful magnolias stamp, and designs featuring modern and Native American art.

Reporters recently were briefed on the stamps planned by the USPS next year, and shown most of the designs. However, only the information and the design for one stamp, "Giant Magnolias On A Blue Velvet Cloth" by Martin Johnson Heade, were released for publication.

Even the Hanukkah and Kwanzaa stamps, after years of the same designs with different rates, are getting new looks, said chief stamp developer Terry McCaffrey.

"They were getting a little tired and so we thought 'Well, let's try a new approach,'" he told The Virtual Stamp Club.

The Kwanzaa stamp shows seven people in different colored African robes, while the Hanukkah stamp shows a brass or brass-colored menorah.

The performing arts are represented by Spencer Tracy, a set of four Choreographers (Alvin Ailey, Agnes DeMille, Martha Graham, and George Balanchine, who was born in 1904), playwright Moss Hart (also born in 1904), and actor-attorney-athlete-activist Paul Robeson.

The Robeson stamp will be part of the annual Black Heritage series, even though his centennial was several years ago. Stamp collectors specializing in black history and others have been requesting a Robeson stamp for years, but it's believed his pro-Communist activities in the mid-20th Century, delayed the issue.

"I'm sure there will be that level of negativity because of his political activism, which he was cleared of a few years later," McCaffrey said.

The Spencer Tracy stamp, part of the Legends of Hollywood series, features a portrait based on a photograph from the 1949 film "Edward My Son." The margin area of the sheet of stamps will feature a photo from "The Old Man And The Sea" (1958).

At least two stamps, and maybe more, will feature cartoon characters: The Pink Panther shows up on the composer Henry Mancini stamp, and Dr. Seuss' creations on his issue, plus there may be as many as four Disney stamps, if a deal can be worked out. No designs were shown for the Disney issues.

A stamp reproducing a famous 1964 Time magazine cover will honor designer R. Buckminster Fuller, while a set of five note the contributions of Japanese-American sculptor and designer Isamu Noguchi. Interestingly, a car designed by Fuller and Noguchi together appears on the Fuller stamp, while Fuller's daughter danced for Balanchine.

The Art of the American Indian stamps will include 10 different objects, and pinpointing which tribe was responsible for exactly what was difficult, McCaffrey said.

Although not "art" stamps, the 15 "Cloudscapes" stamps are quite beautiful, and arranged in three rows, depending on how high in the sky those clouds are found.

Even some of the items that don't have apparent tie-ins to the arts seem to fit into that theme: The postal card commemorating the 300th anniversary of the Harriton House in Bryn Mawr, Pa., features not a photo or original painting, but a water color of the home from 1828.

The major historical anniversary next year will be the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. That will get three stamps, two of them portraits of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark that will appear in a historical booklet.

Here's a rundown of the tentative 2004 U.S. stamp program:

  • Lunar New
  • Year: Year of the Monkey - January
  • Paul Robeson - January
  • Love: Candy Hearts - January
  • Theodor "Dr. Seuss" Geisel - March 2
  • Columbia University postcard - March
  • Weddings (2 designs) - March
  • U.S. Air Force Academy - April 1
  • Spencer Tracy - April 5
  • Henry Mancini - April 13
  • Lewis & Clark (3 designs) - May
  • American Choreographers (4 designs) - May
  • Sculptor/Designer Isamu Noguchi (5 designs) - May
  • National World War II Memorial - May
  • The Art of Disney (tentatively 4 designs) - TBD
  • Harriton House postcard - June
  • Summer Olympic Games: Athens - June/July
  • R. Buckminster Fuller - July 12
  • Writer James Baldwin - August 2
  • "Magnolia" by Heade - August 12
  • USS Constellation - August 26
  • Art of the American Indian (10 designs) - September
  • Cloudscapes (15 designs) - September
  • Sickle Cell Anemia - September
  • Moss Hart - Sept/Oct
  • Pacific Coral Reefs (10 designs) - October
  • Holiday Ornaments (4 designs) - October
  • Christmas: Madonna & Child by Monaco - October
  • Kwanzaa - October
  • Hanukkah - October
  • Wilma Rudolph - no date yet

The Rudolph stamp will be a "definitive" stamp one that usually isn't the current letter rate, but stays in post offices longer.

More 2004 Details and Discussion Here

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