Why Collect Stamps? by Dick Sine

Why Collect Stamps?
by Richard L. Sine

RLSFor the first blog I have ever written, this may be a bit of a broad subject. Stay with me for a couple of paragraphs and perhaps you will see where I am going.

Each of us has begun collecting for our own reason. Each of us has continued collecting for our own reason(s). And, many of us began collecting, ceased collecting, and resumed collecting … again, for our own reason(s).

At some point early in our philatelic experience, we learned that not all stamps have the same value, and sometimes the same stamp (same catalog number) has different values. For many of us, that did not make much of a difference for quite some time. We came to understand the concept of stamp quality, i.e., grade, and other attributes that impact value, such as how/where the item was used.

Rather than getting into the whole “value” concept, there are some other philatelic “attributes” to consider. Many of us have collections that reflect the home place of our ancestors. Others of us develop collections that relate to where we have traveled or other interests in our life.

For myself, in the summer of 1966, I entered the wrong lot number on a bid sheet and, rather than winning some items that would have filled some spaces in my U.S. album, I received a seemingly large bulk lot of stamps from a country far away. I was intrigued … to shorten the story severely, that bidding error has led to a single-country collection that today numbers nearly 8,000 different varieties and a total of more than 78,000 items.

Had you asked me a week before that bulk lot arrived if I had even thought of collecting the stamps of that country and my response would have been, “no, why would I?”

Along the way, I have been exposed to other aspects of the hobby: research, exhibiting, broadening the base of collectors through education programs, etc. Each has its place in philately and none, at least in my belief, is more important than another. What IS important is that we continue to enjoy what we are doing. After all, it is a hobby.

Consider your reason(s) for starting and staying.

Britain Remembers “The Great War”

Royal Mail will issue six stamps and various other postal products commemorating the First World War on 28th July 2014. Here’s the press release; you can click on the pictures for larger views:

uk_wwi_stripReason and inspiration
This is the first set in a five part landmark series that commemorates ‘the War to end all Wars’. The First World War was a defining point in world history and this series will explore stories from the individuals who served as well as key art and poetry from the years. Stamps will be issued every year until 2018 inclusive, building into a unique series that will provide an insight into the war and the contribution and sacrifice of millions. The First World War was an event without precedent in history and touched every household in Britain, either directly (with family members killed, injured or lost in action) or through the immense social changes it triggered. The centenary of this conflict is being marked by Royal Mail with a series of 30 stamps to be released over the next five years. Each year of the war will be commemorated by a set of six stamps, exploring six visual and thematic strands: poppy, poetry, portraits, war art, memorials and artefacts.

Stamps
The stamps in the 2014 set feature a specially commissioned painting of a poppy by prominent botanical artist Fiona Strickland; a fragment from Laurence Binyon’s poem ‘For the Fallen’ carved by stonemason Gary Breeze; a portrait of Private William Cecil Tickle, an underage soldier who was killed during the Battle of the Somme; Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson’s painting A Star Shell; The Response, a sculptural monument in Newcastle which commemorates the volunteers of the Northumberland Fusiliers; and images of Princess Mary’s Gift Fund box, over 420,000 of which were distributed to British service personnel as gifts in late 1914.

uk_wwi_poppyPOPPY, FIONA STRICKLAND: The poppy quickly became symbolic of the war. It was previously associated with the powerful effects of opium and detested by farmers as a stubborn weed, but its tendency to spring up on disturbed earth made it a common sight among the broken ground of shell-torn battlefields. The poppy’s deep red colour seemed to evoke the blood of wounded men, while the flower’s delicate petals might hint at the fragility of life itself. In this specially commissioned painting, artist Fiona Strickland captures the fine texture and translucency of a poppy’s petals.

uk_wwi_fallen‘FOR THE FALLEN’, LAURENCE BINYON: In 1914, Laurence Binyon was a senior curator at the British Museum and an authority on East Asian art. Born in 1869, he was too old to enlist at the outbreak of war. He had been a published poet since the age of 16, and on 21 September 1914, The Times printed his seven-stanza poem ‘For the Fallen’. At this time, the British Expeditionary Force was in retreat, having suffered heavy casualties at the Battle of Mons. Binyon’s poem is very well known today, being used across the world in the ‘Ode of Remembrance’.

uk_wwi_ticklePRIVATE WILLIAM CECIL TICKLE: Private William Cecil Tickle enlisted during the height of the recruiting rush on 7 September 1914. Despite being underage, he managed to join the 9th Battalion, Essex Regiment. After a period of arduous training, the battalion was deployed to France and on the third day of the Battle of the Somme attacked near the village of Ovillers. The troops were hit by machine-gun fire from three sides and suffered heavy casualties. Among the dead was Private Tickle. Having no known grave, he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme in France.

uk_wwi_starshellA STAR SHELL, C R W NEVINSON: Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson was born in London in 1889. A leading exponent of Futurism, he went to France and Flanders as a Red Cross orderly, later joining the Royal Army Medical Corps. After being invalided out of the Army, he secured a commission as an official war artist. One of Nevinson’s official works, Paths of Glory, showing two dead British soldiers lying amid mud and barbed wire, was controversially censored. In A Star Shell, Nevinson depicts the weird, unearthly light of an illuminating artillery flare. The shell’s harsh glow reveals a strange landscape of broken ground and barbed wire and captures the disorienting alien nature of the battlefield.

uk_wwi_responseTHE RESPONSE, NEWCASTLE: The Response, otherwise known as the Renwick Memorial, was inaugurated in Newcastle in July 1923. A spectacular sculpture by William Goscombe John depicts the volunteers of the Northumberland Fusiliers marching to the station on their way to France. Led by drummers and heralded by the figure of Victory, the men walk resolutely as two sweethearts part for perhaps the last time. Field Marshal Lord Kitchener’s call to arms in September 1914 met with an instant and overwhelming response. While the pre-war British Army needed 30,000 recruits a year, at the peak of the recruiting rush this number enlisted in a single day. By the end of 1915, 2.5 million had volunteered.

uk_wwi_giftboxPRINCESS MARY’S GIFT FUND BOX: On 15 October 1914, Princess Mary launched her Christmas Gift Fund. In a public letter, she wrote, “I want you now to help me send a Christmas present from the whole nation to every sailor afloat and every soldier at the front.” Her appeal was met with an enthusiastic response, eventually raising over £162,000. On Christmas Day 1914 alone, 426,724 gifts were distributed to British service personnel. Each included writing materials, a Christmas card and a photograph of the Princess, and most contained tobacco and cigarettes, all enclosed in an embossed brass box. Many boxes survived, becoming distinctive mementoes of the war’s first Christmas.

Stamps – Technical Details:
Stamp Set Price: £6.27
Stamp Set Code: AS27A
Number of stamps: 6: 2 x 1st class, 3 x £1.47
Design: Hat-trick Design
Acknowledgements: Poppy by Fiona Strickland, 2014 © Royal Mail Group Ltd
2014; ‘For the Fallen’ by Laurence Binyon, September 1914, lettering and
stone carving by Gary Breeze © Royal Mail Group Ltd 2014; Private William
Cecil Tickle, 9th Battalion, Essex Regiment © Imperial War Museums (HU
93549); A Star Shell by Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson, 1916 © Tate, London 2011; The Response, Newcastle, sculpted by Sir William Goscombe
John RA and photographed by Paul Grundy; Princess Mary’s Gift Fund box,
courtesy Imperial War Museums, photographed by John Ross © Royal Mail Group Ltd 2014 All stamps © Royal Mail Group Ltd 2014
Printer: International Security Printers
Print Process: Lithography
Format / Size: Square / 35mm x 35mm
Perforations: 14.5 x 14.5
Sheet Format: 6 sheets, 25/50
Phosphor: ‘For the Fallen’ and A Star Shell – all over; all others – bars as appropriate
Price: £6.80 Code: AP392

British Guiana 1¢ Magenta Sells: $9.48 Million

British_Guiana_13The “superstar” of rare stamps, the 1856 1¢ British Guiana Magenta, sold Wednesday evening at an auction for $7.9 million dollars, plus a 20% premium, for a total of $9.48 million. (Earlier reports had the net figured at $9.5 million. Hey, if you want to quibble about $20,000….)

Sotheby’s, which sold the stamp at a New York City auction, points out that it is the fourth time the stamp has set a record price, and that the final price is nearly one BILLION times the stamp’s face value!

“We are thrilled with tonight’s extraordinary, record-setting price of $9.5 million – a truly great moment for the world of stamp collecting, David Redden, Sotheby’s vice chairman, said in a statement. “That price will be hard to beat, and likely won’t be exceeded unless the British Guiana comes up for sale again in the future.”

“When I was eight years old this was the most precious object in the entire world, and I never dreamed I would have it in my hands,” Redden added.

Before the sale, Redden had called the Magenta “the superstar of the stamp world.”

The stamp was sold by sold by the estate of John du Pont, the eccentric heir to the chemical fortune who was convicted of the murder of a wrestling coach. Some of the proceeds will go to the Eurasian Pacific Wildlife Conservation Foundation that du Pont championed during his lifetime.

The stamp had not been on display since 1986. Du Pont would display it at major shows, but his arrest put an end to that. The Magenta was shown in New York, London, and Hong Kong as promotion for this sale. It also made a stop at the U.S. National Postal Museum in Washington for testing. The NPM hopes its new owner will allow the stamp to be exhibited there this fall.

According to Sotheby’s, the previous record for a single stamp was US$2.2 million for the Swedish Treskilling Yellow in 1996. Sotheby’s provides the Magenta’s auction history:

1922
ARTHUR HIND, UTICA, NEW YORK
Purchased at the auction for then-record price of $35,000

1970
IRWIN WEINBERG STAMP CONSORTIUM
Purchased at the auction for then-record price of $280,000

1980
JOHN E. DU PONT, PENNSYLVANIA
Purchased at auction for then-record price of $935,000

2014
Purchased at auction for new record price of $9.48 million

The stamp was produced by a local newspaper printer in 1856 after the South American colony’s supply of regular stamps had run out. It was discovered by a 12-year-old Scottish boy living in South America in 1873 on his uncle’s mail, and sold for six shillings.

Sotheby’s has produced a video on the history of the stamp. You can view it here.

Added  6/23: Some photos from the sale, courtesy World Stamp Show-NY2016: ph-2014-06-17-brguiana2The crowd at the sale. I wonder how many of them were actual bidders.

ph-2014-06-17-brguiana3The hammer comes down, at $7.9 million (plus 20% buyers premium).

saadi_shreveWSS-NY 2016 President Wade Saadi and Development Chairman Charles Shreve at the sale.

AFDCS Changes Journal’s Frequency

The board of directors of the American First Day Cover Society has voted to publish its award-winning journal First Days six times a year, rather than eight, and with more pages in each issue. The vote was unanimous.

Beginning in 2015, each issue will now have 80 pages, rather than a mix of 64- and 80-page issues, yielding an increase in content, and will be published on a more regular basis, easier for members and advertisers to anticipate.

“The change shows our continued commitment to the printed journal, and we hope reducing the number of issues will lead to stability in our publishing schedule and reduce expenses in the process,” said Todd Ronnei, chairman of the board.

The American First Day Cover Society is the world’s largest not-for-profit organization dedicated to the collecting of FDCs. Each issue of First Days is published in full color and includes articles, columns, Society business, a non-commercial Cover Exchange, and the best collection of FDC advertisements anywhere.

For more information on the AFDCS, visit www.afdcs.org or write to the AFDCS, P.O. Box 16277 Tucson, Arizona 85732-6277, or e-mail afdcs@afdcs.org.

Future U.S. Stamps: Pickup Trucks

Several people connected with the U.S. Postal Service hinted broadly that there would be such an issue in the not-too-distant future, and one later confirmed it. However, it won’t be next year or probably the year after, because the USPS is spacing out its automotive issues.

Will they be classic pickup trucks, like this one at the NATS-East auto show?

oldpickup1Or something a little jazzier?

oldpickup2We don’t know, but it should be another fun issue.

Medal of Honor – Korean War

Date change! We’d been assuming these stamps would be issued on Veterans Day, November 11th – but the current internal USPS schedule has them on July 26th!

July 26th: Photos from the first day ceremony can be found here.

July 22: Ceremony Details:

WHAT: Korean War Medal of Honor Forever Stamps First-Day-of-Issue Ceremony.

WHO:

  • Korean War Medal of Honor Recipient Thomas Jerome Hudner, Jr. of Concord, MA,
  • Families of Korean War Medal of Honor Recipients William R. Charette of Lake Wales, FL;
  • Rodolfo P. Hernandez of Fayetteville, NC;
  • Einar H. Ingman, Jr. of Irma, WI;
  • Hiroshi H. Miyamura of Gallup, NM; and,
  • Tibor Rubin of Garden Grove, CA,
  • President of the Korean War Veterans Association Larry Kinard,
  • Republic of Korea Vice Minister for the Ministry of Patriot and Veterans Affairs, Choi Wan Keun
  • Representative of National Assembly of the Republic of Korea Kim Jung Hoon
  • Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe

WHEN: 10:30 a.m., Sat., July 26, 2014

WHERE: Arlington National Cemetery Amphitheatre, Arlington, VA 22211

July 16: The address for submitting first day covers (below) has changed.

July 6th: Those planning to attend the July 26th first-day ceremony for the Medal of Honor/Korean War stamps at the Arlington Cemetery Amphitheatre should get there no later 10:30 a.m. – but an hour earlier is recommended, because the wreath-laying is scheduled for 10:45, right before the 11 a.m. ceremony.

June 26th: The new Postal Bulletin confirms the July 26th date, and adds more detail and illustrations:

medal_pbOn July 26, 2014, in Washington, DC at the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the U.S. Postal Service® will issue the Medal of Honor: Korean War (Forever® First-Class Mail priced at 49 cents) stamps, in two designs, in a pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA) prestige folio of 20 stamps (Item 587400).

The stamps will go on sale nationwide July 26, 2014.

In January 2012, the U.S. Postal Service invited the last living Korean War Medal of Honor recipients to join in hon­oring the extraordinary courage of every member awarded the medal for their valorous actions during the war. This 4-page prestige folio, Medal of Honor: Korean War, honors those 145 recipients.The first side of the prestige folio high­lights historical photographs of the last living recipients of the Medal of Honor from the Korean War. The 13 photo­graphs surround two Forever stamps. One stamp features a photograph of the Navy version of the Medal of Honor; the other stamp features a photograph of the Army version of the Medal of Honor. The second page includes a short piece of text and a key to the names of the recipients pic­tured in the cover photos. The names of all 145 recipients of the Medal of Honor from the Korean War are listed on page three. The remaining 18 stamps are found on the back page along with a quote describing why the Medal of Honor is awarded, “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepid­ity at the risk of life, above and beyond the call of duty.” Art director Antonio Alcalá designed the prestige folio and the stamps, working with photographs of the medals by Rich­ard Frasier.

How to Order the First-Day-of-Issue Postmark:
Customers have 60 days to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmark by mail. They may purchase new stamps at their local Post Office, at The Postal Store® website at www.usps.com/shop, or by calling 800-STAMP-24. They should affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes (to themselves or others), and place them in a larger envelope addressed to:

Medal of Honor: Korean War
Arlington Main Office
3118 Washington Blvd
Arlington, VA 22201-9998

After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark up to a quantity of 50. For more than 50, customers have to pay five cents each. All orders must be postmarked by September 24, 2014.

There are nine philatelic products for this stamp issue:

  • 587406* Press Sheet w/Die cuts, $29.40 (print quantity 1,000).
  • 587408* Press Sheets w/o Die cuts, $29.40 (print quantity 1,500).
  • 587410* Keepsake w/Digital Color Postmark (Set of 2), $13.95.
  • 587416* First-Day Cover (Set of 2), $1.86.
  • 587421* Digital Color Postmark (Set of 2), $3.28.
  • 587424* Framed Art, $39.95.
  • 587430* Ceremony Program, $6.95.
  • 587431* Stamped Deck Card, $0.95.
  • 587432* Stamped Deck Card w/Digital Color Postmark, $1.99.

Technical Specifications:
Issue: Medal of Honor: Korean War Stamps
Item Number: 587400
Denomination & Type of Issue: First-Class Mail Forever
Format: Prestige Folio of 20 (2 designs)
Series: N/A
Issue Date & City: July 26, 2014, Washington,
DC 20066
Designer: Antonio Alcalá, Alexandria, VA
Art Director: Antonio Alcalá, Alexandria, VA
Typographer: Antonio Alcalá, Alexandria, VA
Photographer: Richard Frasier, Vienna, VA
Engraver: N/A
Modeler: Donald Woo
Manufacturing Process: Offset/Microprint
Printer: Banknote Corporation of America/SSP
Printed at: Browns Summit, NC
Press Type: Alprinta, 74
Stamps per Pane: 20
Print Quantity: 30 million stamps
Paper Type: Phosphor Tagged
Adhesive Type: Pressure-sensitive adhesive
Processed at: Banknote Corporation of America, Browns Summit, SC
Colors: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black, Metallic Gold, Gray
Stamp Orientation: Vertical
Image Area (w x h): 0.84 x 1.42 in./21.34 x 36.07 mm
Overall Size (w x h): 0.98 x 1.56 in./24.90 x 39.62 mm
Full Pane Size (w x h): 7.5 (8.5 folded) x 17.0 in./190.5 x 431.8 mm
Press Sheets Size (w x h): 17.0 x 22.5 in./431.8 x 571.5 mm
Plate Size: 60 stamps per revolution
Plate Numbers: “S” followed by 111111 (6) single digits
Marginal Markings:
Back: © 2014 USPS • USPS logo • Plate position diagram • Barcode (587400) in upper right and lower left corners of pane • Promotional text

MOH-Korea2014-DCP-SampleThis postmark measures 2.16″ x 2.60″.

MOH-Korea2014-BW-SampleThis postmark measures 3.96″ x 1.97″.

Here are views of the prestige folio that includes photos and names of Medal winners:

moh_k_frontmoh_k_inside1

 

moh_k_inside2

Celebrity Chefs

DCP design released September 28th:

chefs-dcp1

Celebrity_Chefs_PaneImages added September 19th. First day ceremony info below; this writeup is from the September 18th Postal Bulletin:

CC_ChenOn September 26, 2014, in Chicago, IL, the U.S. Postal Service will issue the Celebrity Chefs stamps (Forever First-Class Mail® priced at 49-cents) in five designs, in a pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA) pane of 20 stamps (Item 472300).

The stamps will go on sale nationwide September 26, 2014.

The five chefs honored on these stamps — James Beard, Julia Child, Joyce Chen, Edna Lewis, and Felipe Rojas-Lombardi — revolutionized our understanding of food. Seeing cooking as a source of delight, they invited us to feast on regional and international flavors and were early but ardent champions of trends that many foodies now take for granted. The stamps feature digital illustrations by Jason Seiler that depict the five chefs in a style intended to resemble oil paintings. Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamps.

How to Order the First-Day-of-Issue Postmark:
CC_ChildCustomers have 60 days to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmark by mail. They may purchase new stamps at their local Post Office, at The Postal Store website at www.usps.com/shop, or by calling 800-STAMP-24. They should affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes (to themselves or others), and place them in a larger envelope addressed to:

Celebrity Chefs
Retail Specialist
433 West Harrison Street
Chicago, IL 60699-9611

After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark up to a quantity of 50. For more than 50, customers have to pay five cents each. All orders must be postmarked by November 26, 2014.

CC_Rojas-LombardiThere are nine philatelic products available for this stamp issue:
472306, Press Sheet with Die cuts, $88.20 (print quantity 1,000).
472308, Press Sheet without Die cuts, $88.20 (print quantity 1,500).
472310 Keepsake (Pane and Digital Color Postmark Set of 5), $18.95.
472316 First-Day Cover, Set of 5, $4.65.
472321 Digital Color Postmark, Set of 5, $8.20.
472324 Framed Art, $39.95.
472330 Ceremony Program (random stamp), $6.95.
472331 Stamp Deck Card, $0.95.
472332 Stamp Deck Card with Digital Color Postmark (random stamp), $1.99.

Technical Specifications:
Issue: Celebrity Chefs Stamps
Item Number: 472300
Denomination & Type of Issue: First-Class Mail Forever
Format: Pane of 20 (5 designs)
CC_LewisSeries: N/A
Issue Date & City: September 26, 2014, Chicago,
IL 60699
Designer: Greg Breeding, Charlottesville, VA
Art Director: Greg Breeding, Charlottesville, VA
Typographer: Greg Breeding, Charlottesville, VA
Artist: Jason Seiler, Chicago, IL
Engraver: N/A
Modeler: Joseph Sheeran
Manufacturing Process: Offset
Printer: Ashton Potter (USA) Ltd. (APU)
Printed at: Williamsville, NY
Press Type: Muller A76
Stamps per Pane: 20
Print Quantity: 20 million stamps
Paper Type: Nonphosphored Type III, Block Tag
Adhesive Type: Pressure-sensitive adhesive
Processed at: Ashton Potter (USA) Ltd. (APU)
Colors: Black, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, PMS Cool Gray #10C
Stamp Orientation: Vertical
Image Area (w x h): 0.84 x 1.42 in./21.337 x 36.07 mm
Overall Size (w x h): 0.98 x 1.56 in./24.89 x 39.62 mm
chefs_beard800Full Pane Size (w x h): 8.50 x 6.50 in./215.90 x 165.10 mm
Press Sheet Size (w x h): 25.75 x 19.75 in./654.05 x 501.65 mm
Plate Size: 180 stamps per revolution
Plate Numbers: “P” followed by five (5) single digits
Marginal Markings:
Front: Header, Plate numbers in two corners of pane
Back: © 2014 USPS • USPS logo • Plate position diagram • Barcode (472300),verso text • Promotional text

Celebrity Chefs first day ceremony info, from the USPS on September 8th:

The event is free and open to the public.

WHEN:
11 a.m. CST, Fri., Sept. 26, 2014
Media check-in begins at 10:30 a.m. CST at the Park Grill

WHERE:    Chicago Gourmet
Park Grill, Millennium Park
11 N Michigan Ave.
Chicago IL 60602

August 27th: From the USPS main shopping website:

James Beard
Julia Child
Joyce Chen
Edna Lewis
Felipe Rojas-Lombardi

Added August 8th: Linn’s Stamp News reports these stamps will be issued September 26th in Chicago. VSC sees Chicago Gourmet scheduled to open on that date, which showcases “more than 150 of Chicago’s finest restaurants and chefs,” according to its website. The U.S. Postal Service is listed as one of the sponsors, and the hyperlink goes to the /stamps portion of the USPS website. The 2014 schedule for Chicago Gourmet is not yet posted.

August 21st: The USPS confirms all of the above, plus James Beard as one of the subjects.

chefs_beard800“An inspiration to generations of amateur cooks and professional chefs alike, teacher and author James Beard (1903–1985) avidly fostered a more vibrant food culture in the United States. He was a passionate advocate of local ingredients and markets, his popular books covered everything from seafood to bread, and he reveled in the discovery of worldly, exotic flavors—but his cultivated palate was also famously receptive to such simple pleasures as onion sandwiches and perfectly baked potatoes.”

About the stamps in general, the USPS says, they “feature digital illustrations by Jason Seiler that depict the five chefs in a style intended to resemble oil paintings. Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamps. The selvage consists of a fine white linen tablecloth and a white china dish.”

The USPS would neither confirm nor deny that Julia Child will be one of the other subjects.

Farmers’ Market stamps

farmersmarketThis multi-stamp issue is now confirmed, probably to be issued in August in Washington, D.C. (The June 26th Postal Bulletin confirms August 7th in Washington.)

From the USPS May 30th:

Fruits, vegetables, cheeses, flowers, and other fresh products invitingly displayed on tables or bins — farmers markets invite us to share America’s agricultural bounty.

Four se-tenant stamps depict a table laden with typical farmers-market fare. The stamp on the far left has among its products various fresh breads such as baguettes and rolls, cinnamon buns, cookies, artisan cheeses, and both brown and white eggs. The produce on the second stamp includes vegetables and fruits: apples, eggplants, watermelons, peppers, grapes, potatoes, broccoli, and gourds. Cut flowers adorn the next stamp, with bouquets of bright flowers next to a bucket of sunflowers and a collection of celosia. The final stamp on the far right features live plants, with various herbs, tomatoes, and flowers like marigolds and nasturtiums. Most items bear handwritten labels that identify the product and its price.

The artist chose and arranged the products so that each stamp has a large focal point; each stamp is complete in itself yet forms a cohesive whole with the entire stamp strip. The stamp art was created using acrylic paint.

Text on the back of the 20-stamp sheet describes the appeal of farmers markets.

Farmers markets are an old idea that’s new again. Markets were once the main way Americans shopped. As towns and cities grew in the 19th century, farms were pushed farther from the population hubs, and new distribution systems and permanent in-town shops increasingly became the middlemen between consumers and farmers. However, in 1976 Congress passed the Farmer-to-Consumer Direct Marketing Act, and the number of markets has soared once more.

Farmers markets flourish in every U.S. state and territory. Some markets thrive in permanent locations that operate year round; others are open only once a week during the harvest season. There are markets that sell just produce and meats; others also offer seafood, breads, prepared foods, or dairy products. Markets might include locally sourced honey or artisan crafts like soaps and candles. Live plants or cut flowers brighten many markets, and some markets feature live music or children’s activities, voter-registration drives, or local master gardeners offering advice. There are almost as many different combinations of goods and activities as there are markets.

Considered by many to be the new town square, farmers markets offer, as they did in the past, a gathering place for diverse groups of neighbors to meet and mingle and to share news, recipes, and stories—in short, to create a new sense of community.

Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamps with illustrations by Robin Moline.
The Farmers Markets stamps are being issued as Forever® stamps. These Forever stamps will always be equal in value to the current First-Class Mail® one-ounce rate

farmers_dcp1From the Postal Bulletin, July 10th:

On August 7, 2014, in Washington, DC, at The White House Farmers Market, the U.S. Postal Service will issue Farmers Markets (Forever First-Class Mail priced at 49-cents), in four designs, in a pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA) pane of 20 stamps (Item 472500).

The stamps will go on sale nationwide August7, 2014.

The U.S. Postal Service celebrates the abundance and bounty of America’s farmers markets with four colorful se-tenant stamps depicting a table laden with products found at a typical farmers market. The stamp on the far left has, among its products, various baked goods, artisan cheeses, and eggs. The produce on the second stamp includes vegetables and fruits. Cut flowers adorn the third stamp. The stamp on the far right features live plants. Most items bear handwritten labels that identify the product and its price. Text on the back of the pane of 20 stamps describes the appeal of Farmers Markets. Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamps, which were illustrated by Robin Moline.

How to Order the First-Day-of-Issue Postmark:
Customers have 60 days to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmarkby mail. They maypurchase new stamps at their local Post Office, at The Postal Store website at www.usps.com/shop, or by calling 800-STAMP-24. They should affixthe stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes (to themselves or others), and place them in a larger envelope addressed to:

farmersmarketFarmers Markets
Special Events
PO Box 92282
Washington, DC 20090-2282

After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark up to a quantity of 50. Formore than 50, customers have to pay five cents each. All orders must be postmarked by October 6, 2014.

There are ten philatelic products for this stamp issue:

      • 472506 Press Sheet w/Die cut, $49.00 (print quantity 1,000).
      • 472508 Press Sheet w/o Die cut, $49.00 (print quantity 1,500).
      • 472510 Digital Color Postmark Keepsake (Set of 4), $16.95.
      • 472516 First-Day Cover (Set of 4), $3.72.
      • 472521 Digital Color Postmark (Set of 4), $6.56.
      • 472523 Notecards $13.95.
      • 472524 Framed Art, $39.95.
      • 472530 Ceremony Program, $6.95.
      • 472531 Stamped Deck Card, $0.95.
      • 472532 Stamped Deck Card w/Digital Color Postmark, $1.99.

Technical Specifications:

  • farmersmarketIssue: Farmers Markets Stamps
  • Item Number: 472500
  • Denomination & Type of Issue: First-Class Mail Forever
  • Format: Pane of 20 (4 designs)
  • Series: N/A
  • Issue Date & City: August 7, 2014, Washington, DC
  • Designer: Greg Breeding, Charlottesville, VA
  • Art Director: Greg Breeding, Charlottesville, VA
  • Typographer: Greg Breeding, Charlottesville, VA
  • Artist: Robin Moline, Lakeland, MN
  • Modeler: Joseph Sheeran
  • Manufacturing Process: Offset
  • Printer: Ashton Potter (USA) Ltd. (APU)
  • Printed at: Williamsville, NY
  • Press Type: Muller A76
  • Stamps per Pane: 20
  • Print Quantity: 100 million stamps
  • Paper Type: Nonphosphored Type III, Block Tag
  • Adhesive Type: Pressure-sensitive adhesive
  • Processed at: Ashton Potter (USA) Ltd. (APU)
  • Colors: Black, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow
  • Stamp Orientation: Vertical
  • Image Area (w x h): 0.77 x 1.11 in./19.56 x 28.07 mm
  • Overall Size (w x h): 0.91 x 1.19 in./23.11 x 30.23 mm
  • Full Pane Size (w x h): 4.75 x 8.25 in./120.65 x 209.55 mm
  • Press Sheet Size (w x h): 23.75 x 8.25 in./603.25 x 209.55 mm
  • Plate Size: 300 stamps per revolution
  • Plate Numbers: “P” followed by 1111 (4) single digits
  • Marginal Markings:
    Front: Plate number • Year of issue • Header (Farmers Markets)
    Back: © 2014 USPS • USPS logo • Plate position diagram • Barcode (472500) • Descriptive text • Promotional text

The unveiling at the first day ceremony:

farmers_unveilPhoto by Daniel Afzal, USPS.

L to R:

  • Katherine C. Tobin, Ph.D., Citizen Stamp Advisory Committee Member
  • Bernadine Prince, Co-Executive Director, FRESHFARM Markets
  • Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture
  • Patrick R. Donahoe, Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer
  • Jim Crawford, Farmer, and Owner, New Morning Farm
  • Ruth Y. Goldway, Chairman, U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission
  • Robin Moline, Artist

War of 1812 – Fort McHenry

ftmchenry_scratchJuly 28th: Here is the design for this issue.

This stamp will be issued September 13th at Fort McHenry in Baltimore, in conjunction with the Anniversary Festival there. (See the Friends of Fort McHenry website, which says in part, “Events crescendo on September 13 with a star-studded patriotic concert and extraordinary fireworks display over Fort McHenry and the Baltimore harbor.” There is no mention on that page of the stamp, nor on other sites’ pages about the 10-day festival.

The first-day ceremony will be held at 11:00 a.m., the USPS tells us. (added June 12th: The National Park Service expects huge crowds, about 20,000 people, on September 13th. Plan accordingly; mass transit? The ceremony will be held inside the Fort itself.)

This is the second or third stamp this year honoring the bicentennial of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” depending on how you count. A “Star-Spangled Banner” definitive, also featuring Fort McHenry, was issued January 28th (http://virtualstampclub.com/lloydblog/?p=170) with an additional varieties on March 3rd. (This is also obviously the year for stamps named “Spangled,” because the Butterfly Greeting Card stamp subject was the Great Spangled Frtillary!)

From my article in October about the partial program preview: “We weren’t shown the design for the Wqr of 1812 stamp, but the subject will be the Battle of Fort McHenry. It includes soldiers manning a cannon, the “Star-Spangled Banner” in the background, colored by “the rockets’ red glare. A portrait of the fort’s commander by Rembrandt Peale is on the back.”

From USPSstamps.com, July 28th:

The War of 1812, sometimes called “the forgotten conflict,” was a two-and-a-half-year confrontation with Great Britain that brought the United States to the verge of bankruptcy and disunion. With this 2014 issuance, the U.S. Postal Service continues its commemoration of the bicentennial of a war that ultimately helped forge our national identity and gave us our national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

The stamp’s subject for the third year of the war is the bombardment of Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland, in September 1814. Using mixed media, stamp artist Greg Harlin, a specialist in historical paintings, depicts the battle from the vantage point of a group of soldiers manning a cannon in defense of Fort McHenry. The stamp art also gives prominence to “the rockets’ red glare” that Maryland native Francis Scott Key wrote about in “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

A portrait by Rembrandt Peale of the fort’s commander, George Armistead, appears on the reverse of the stamp sheet (courtesy of the Maryland Historical Society). The selvage engraving on the front of the sheet is a black and white version of a painting by Percy Moran depicting Key aboard the ship from which he witnessed the battle. The stamp sheet includes verso text and selvage text.

For some 25 hours beginning on the morning of September 13, a squadron of the Royal Navy fired more than 1,500 rounds of shells and rockets at Fort McHenry, which was designed to protect Baltimore from attacks by sea. Key witnessed this massive display of firepower from the deck of an American flag-of-truce vessel, where he had just completed negotiations with the British for the release of an American prisoner.

On the morning of September 14, Key realized the bombardment had been a failure when he saw the British squadron withdrawing downriver. He was moved to write “The Defence of Fort McHenry” to the tune of an old English song, and it quickly gained wider recognition under the title “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Greg Breeding served as art director and designer for the stamp.

The War of 1812: Fort McHenry stamp is being issued as a Forever stamp in self-adhesive sheets of 20. This Forever stamp will always be equal in value to the current First-Class Mail one-ounce rate.

From the Postal Bulletin of August 21st:

ftmchenry_scratchOn September 13, 2014, in Baltimore, MD at the Anniversary Festival at Fort McHenry, the U.S. Postal Service® will issue The War of 1812: Fort McHenry (Forever® priced at 49 cents) commemorative First-Class Mail® stamp, in one design, in a pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA) pane of 20 stamps (Item 588200). The $9.80 The War of 1812: Fort McHenry pane may not be split, and the stamps may not be sold individually.

The stamp will go on sale nationwide September 13, 2014.

In 2014, the Postal Service continues its commemoration of the War of 1812, a conflict with Great Britain that many Americans viewed as the nation’s “Second War of Independence.” The stamp subject is the bombardment of Fort McHenry in Baltimore, MD, in September 1814. Illustrated with mixed media by noted historical painter Greg Harlin, the stamp art depicts the battle from the vantage point of a group of soldiers manning a cannon in defense of the fort. The stamp art also gives prominence to “the rockets’ red glare” that Francis Scott Key wrote about in “The Star-Spangled Banner.” A portrait by Rembrandt Peale of the fort’s commander, George Armistead, appears on the reverse of the stamp pane (courtesy of the Maryland Historical Society). The selvage engraving on the front of the pane is a black and white version of a painting by Percy Moran depicting Key aboard the ship from which he witnessed the battle. The stamp pane includes verso text and selvage text. Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamp and pane.

How to Order the First-Day-of-Issue Postmark:
Customers have 60 days to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmark by mail. They may purchase new stamps at their local Post Office, at The Postal Store® website at http://www.usps.com/shop, or by calling 800-STAMP-24. They should affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes (to themselves or others), and place them in a larger envelope addressed to:

War of 1812: Ft. McHenry
Postmaster
900 E. Fayette Street
Baltimore, MD 21233-9998

After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark up to a quantity of 50. For more than 50, customers have to pay five cents each. All orders must be postmarked by November 12, 2014.

There are 11 philatelic products for this stamp issue:

    • 588206, Press Sheet w/Die cuts, $49.00 (print quantity 1,000).
    • 588208, Press Sheet w/o Die cuts, $49.00 (print quantity 1,500).
    • 588210, Keepsake w/Digital Color Postmark, $11.95.
    • 588216, First-Day Cover, $0.93.
    • 588218, Full Pane First-Day Cover, $12.30.
    • 588219, Cancelled Full Pane, $12.30.
    • 588221, Digital Color Postmark, $1.64.
    • 588224, Framed Art, $39.95.
    • 588230, Ceremony Program, $6.95.
    • 588231, Stamp Deck Card, $0.95.
    • 588232, Stamp Deck Card w/Digital Color Postmark, $1.99.

Technical Specifications:

ftmchenry_scratchIssue: The War of 1812: Fort McHenry Stamp
Item Number: 588200
Denomination & Type of Issue: First-Class Mail Forever Commemorative
Format: Souvenir Sheet of 20 (1 design)
Series: War of 1812
Issue Date & City: September 13, 2014, Baltimore, 
MD 21233
Designer: Greg Breeding, Charlottesville, VA
Art Director: Greg Breeding, Charlottesville, VA
Typographer: Greg Breeding, Charlottesville, VA
Artist: Greg Harlin, Annapolis, MD
Engraver: WRE/ColorTech
Modeler: CCL Label, Inc.
Manufacturing Process: Gravure
Printer: CCL Label, Inc.
Printed at: Clinton, SC 29325
Press Type: Dia Nippon Kiko (DNK)
Stamps per Pane: 20
Print Quantity: 30 million stamps
Paper Type: USPS-P-1238, Phosphor Tagged Paper, Block, Nonphosphored Type III
Adhesive Type: Pressure-sensitive adhesive
Processed at: CCL Label, Inc., Clinton, SC
Colors: Yellow, Magenta, Cyan, Tan 7535, Black
Stamp Orientation: Horizontal
Image Area (w x h): 1.42 x 1.09 in./36.07 x 27.56 mm
Overall Size (w x h): 1.56 x 1.23 in./39.62 x 31.12 mm
Full Pane Size (w x h): 10.25 x 7.25 in./260.35 x 184.15 mm
Press Sheet Size (w x h): 10.25 x 36.25 in./260.00 x 921.00
Plate Size: 100 stamps per revolution
Plate Numbers: N/A
Marginal Markings: Front: Side Header: The War of 1812: Fort McHenry • Descriptive text
Back: © 2014 USPS • USPS logo • Plate position diagram in lower right corner • Barcode (588200) in lower left corner • Promotional text Portrait of George Armistead • Descriptive text

The first-day postmarks:

ftmchen_bw_vscThe black-and-white postmark measures 2.87″ x 1.18″ftmchen_dcp_vscThe Digital Color Postmark measures 2.81″ x 1.31″