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Fonda, Garbo, Headline 2005 Stamps

Celebrities, sporty cars, and a little bit of history are coming to your post office next year with stamp subjects as diverse as Henry Fonda and Greta Garbo; sporty cars of the 1950s and Distinguished Marines; and Ronald Reagan and the Muppets.

Other subjects include Arthur Ashe, Marian Anderson, the civil rights movement, spring flowers, constellations, and another set of four Disney stamps, this time with the theme of "celebrations."

It's a wide variety, says Dave Failor, who is in charge of stamps for the Postal Service.

"I think there's just going to be a lot of really fun stamps, and a lot of really good educational stamps in 2005," Failor told The Virtual Stamp Club.

The 2005 U.S. stamp program was announced at the year's major stamp show, Stampshow 2005, in Sacramento, in mid-August.

Actors Fonda and Garbo both were born in 1905, but Fonda was chosen for the Legends of Hollywood series, while Garbo will be honored in the fall by both the U.S. and Sweden with matching stamps. It will be the United States' first joint issue since 2001.

The Fonda stamp appears to be based on a publicity photograph. The photograph in the margin of the 20-stamp sheet is of Fonda in "The Grapes of Wrath" (1940).

Although the U.S. and Swedish Garbo stamps have the same design, Sweden's will be an engraved image by Czeslaw Slania, while the U.S. will be a photograph.

For Arthur Ashe, the significant anniversary is not a birth anniversary, but 10 years since his death from AIDS-related diseases. He contracted AIDS during a blood transfusion.

Ten Muppet characters will share a sheet of stamps with a single stamp for their creator, Jim Henson. The Muppets honored include Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Sam the Eagle, Statler and Waldorf, Animal, Rowlf the Dog, The Swedish Chef, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and his assistant Beaker, Camilla the Chicken and Gonzo. Below the single Henson stamp is a larger photo in the sheet's selvage showing Henson in silhouette sitting on the floor, back to a wall, knees drawn up, and talking to Kermit. (Rowlf, by the way, was Henson's original Muppet, 'way back when he got his start on WRC-TV in Washington.)

The Marian Anderson stamp marks a return to full-color designs for the Black Heritage series; the public wanted it, Failor said. In fact, the USPS had intended to return to color images with the Paul Robeson stamp in 2004, but the family preferred a black and white photograph.

Anderson, a classically-trained singer, is best known for a 1939 performance at Lincoln Memorial, after she was refused permission to sing at the Daughters of the American Revolution's Constitution Hall in Washington. The contralto was also the first African-American to perform with the Metropolitan Opera, in 1955. She died in 1993 at the age of 96.

Today's audiences may not know Yip Harburg, but a song for which he wrote the words, "Somewhere Over The Rainbow," was recently deemed the best movie song ever by the American Film Institute. He also wrote the lyrics for "Buddy, Can You Spare A Dime?" which has become emblematic of the Great Depression, and "April In Paris."

On his stamp, he is shown grinning, with his head leading on his left hand. On the left side of the stamp, there is a rainbow, which might represent not only the song from "The Wizard Of Oz" (1939) but also the Broadway show whose lyrics he wrote, "Finian's Rainbow" (1947 Broadway, 1968 movie). The four subjects of The Art of Disney: Celebrations are Mickey and Pluto, Alice and the Mad Hatter, Ariel and Flounder, and Snow White and Dopey. In the one design shown to the press at the Stampshow briefing, Mickey is hold a birthday cake above his head, perhaps to keep it away from Pluto. Snow White and the dwarf Dopey are dancing in their stamp, although that design is not yet final.

Although the design shown to the press was called "Latino Dances," the four-stamp issue is now called "Let's Dance," and features the Latino dances mambo, salsa, cha-cha, and merengue. The top of the sheet is likely to show the phrase "Let's Dance" in both English and Spanish. Arthur Murray-style dance steps probably will be shown in the selvage. This issue was a late addition to the program. Unusually for 20-stamp sheets, the same design is repeated straight across in the same row.

However, Failor, executive director of Stamp Services for the U.S. Postal Service, said there will also be stamps for non-celebrities, such as the four stamps for geneticist Barbara McClintock, thermodynamicist Josiah Willard Gibbs, mathematician John van Neumann, and physicist Richard Feynman.

"These 4 American scientists that we picked out are people that have had a tremendous impact on our history and on our culture over the years," he said.

Although other multiple-stamp issues, such as 2004's American Choreographers and 2005's Distinguished Marines, were prompted by public campaigns for one particular individual, Failor told The VSC that is not the case with Scientists.

Victor Stabin was the artist for American Scientists.

Other serious subjects include children's health and the start of the civil rights movement. The former, 2005's "social awareness" issue, shows a silhouette of a doctor checking a child with a stethoscope; around the bright-yellow border of the sheet of stamps are the slogans "regular medical checkups," "car seats each time," "balanced diet and exercise" and at the top, "health care for every child."

The set of 10 civil rights stamps is titled "To Form A More Perfect Union." It shows ten significant events in the movement, starting in 1955, as depicted in contemporary art of the time that interpreted those events.

The Reagan stamp had already been announced, and is likely to be issued on what would have been his next birthday, February 6, or, because February 6, 2005, is a Sunday, February 7. The first day ceremony is most likely to be at the presidential library in Simi Valley, Calif. The USPS is still working with the family on the final design.

After 12 years of issuing stamps to commemorate the Lunar New Years, the U.S. will issue a "souvenir sheet" of all 12 designs, with each stamp worth 37 cents. However, the total for 12 stamps is $4.44, and the Postal Service was advised that 4 is considered an unlucky number in Asia. Instead, the USPS will issue a double-sided sheet of 24 stamps, valued at $8.88. Eight is considered a lucky number, said Failor.

The first day of issue for the Lunar New Year pane is scheduled for January 6 in Honolulu, reports The Virtual Stamp Club's Jay Bigalke.

Lyricist Yip Harburg is probably best known for writing the words to the Oscar-winning song "Somewhere Over The Rainbow," but his other credits include "Buddy, Can You Spare A Dime?" and "April In Paris," as well as "How Are Things In Glocca Morra" and "Old Devil Moon," both from "Finian's Rainbow."

The 21st stamp in the Literary Arts series will feature Robert Penn Warren, the first U.S. Poet Laureate and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for "All The King's Men." The stamp design shows both a portrait of Warren as well as a scene from the novel. A crowd is shown holding signs reading "Win With Willie" and "We Want Willie."

The Distinguished Marines stamps honor John A . Lejeune, Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, John Basilone, and Daniel Daly. There had been quite a bit of public support for World War II heroes Basilone and Puller. Daly and Lejeune servedin World War I.

Sporty Cars of the 1950s features five paintings of the autos by Art Fitzpatrick, who did advertising art for some of these same cars when they were new. In fact, some of these images were drawn for ads. The cars are: 1952 Nash Healy, 1953 Studebaker Starliner, 1953 Chevrolet Corvette, 1954 Kaiser Darrin, and 1955 Ford Thunderbird.

The name of the series begs the question, "Will there next be 'Sporty Cars of the 1960s?'" Failor said he didn't know, said there are no plans now to follow this year's four Constellation stamps with two more sets of four representing the other zodiac constellations.

This year's National Stamp Collecting Month issue shows Leo, Orion, Pegasus and Lyra. McRay Magleby of Provo, Utah, used star charts by Wilt Tyro of the Netherlands.

Besides Sporty Cars of the 50s, transportation is included with a set called "American Advances in Aviation." It was spurred by continuing public requests for a stamp honoring the B-29 airplane, and features aircraft from the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s: Model 247, F6F Hellcat, 415 Ercoupe, B-24 Liberator, 35 Bonanza, PBY Catalina, P-47 Thunerbolt, P-80 Shooting Star, B-29 Superfortress, and the YB-49 Flying Wing. Two planes were depicted in the selvage, but those planes were not identified during the August press briefing.

"For those who like pretty stamps," said Failor, there is a block of 4 Spring Flowers: The hyacinth, iris, daffodil and tulip, in watercolors by Christopher Pullman of Cambridge, Mass. These will be issued as a double-sided booklet of 20.

There will be a new Love stamp to replace the candy hearts stamp issued in 2004, reports Bigalke. The new design looks like a chalk or crayon drawing with a bouquet of flowers and a hand holding it. Vivienne Flescher provided the artwork for the stamp.

Speaking of art, the USPS in 2005 will issue Masterworks of Modern American Architecture, with subjects including the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the brand-new Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, and the Lakeshore Drive Apartments in Chicago. The oldest example shown in the sheet of 12 is the Chrysler Building in New York, finished in 1930.

Other architecture subjects are Yale Art & Architecture Building, High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Vanna Venturi House in Philadelphia, National Gallery of Art, Exeter Academy Library in New Hampshire, the TWA Terminal at New York's Kennedy Airport, The Glass House in Pomona, Calif., and Hancock Place in Boston.

The stamps are arranged on the sheet in a staggered design. Failor said the American Institute of Architects is "very interested" in these stamps, so the first day ceremony may be tied in with an AIA event.

"It seems like we've had pretty good success with black-and-white photos and artwork, and architecture should do well," Failor said.

Once again, the year's American Treasures issue, New Mexico Rio Grande Blankets, probably will be issued at Stampshow 2005 which is being held in Grand Rapids, Michigan. There are four designs, each featuring a blanket from the 19th Century.

The subject of this year's Nature of America souvenir sheet is the Northeast Deciduous Forest. It may be issued at the Mega-Event stamp show in New York City.

There will only be a "contemporary" (non-religious) stamp for Christmas in 2005; a new "art" (religious) stamp is being issued this October, along with new Hanukkah and Kwanzaa stamps, all of which will still be on sale a year later for Christmas 2005. The four new contemporary holiday stamps will feature cookies shaped like Santa, snowmen, an angel, and gingerbread men, in designs by Sally Anderson Bruce. They will be issued as booklets, panes, and vending booklets.

Another late addition to the program is a stamp to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Presidential Library System. It will be a single stamp design and will possibly depict the faces of deceased presidents, reports Bigalke.

The 2005 program has about the same number of subjects as 2004, said Failor, although he conceded there are more multi-stamp panes. New definitives are unlikely in 2005, because the Postal Service may seek a rate increase for 2006 and will want to "knock down" inventories of old-rate stamps before the new rate takes effect.

Here's a complete list of the 2005 stamp issues:
  • Lunar New Year souvenir sheet
  • Black Heritage: Marian Anderson
  • Love Bouquet
  • Ronald Reagan
  • Jim Henson & The Muppets
  • Spring Flowers
  • Nature of America: Northeast Deciduous Forest
  • American Scientists
  • Literary Arts: Robert Penn Warren
  • Yip Harburg
  • Legends of Hollywood: Henry Fonda
  • Distinguished Marines
  • Modern American Architecture
  • American Treasures: New Mexico Rio Grande Blankets
  • American Advances in Aviation
  • Art of Disney: Celebrations
  • Arthur Ashe
  • To Form A More Perfect Union (Civil Rights)
  • 50s Sporty Cars
  • Constellations (4)
  • Child Health
  • Holiday Cookies
  • Let's Dance (Latino Dances)
  • Presidential Libraries
What do you think? The VSC discussion is here!

2005 US Stamp Gallery



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