National Park Service Centennial

Updated May 26th: According to the USPS, there will be ceremonies for the stamps at 14 of the 16 Parks, all but one on the first-day. This list is alphabetical:

s_parksassateagueAssateague Island National Seashore
June 2, 11 a.m.
Assateague Island National Seashore
11800 Marsh View Ln.
Berlin MD 21811

Bandelier National Monument
June 2, 11 a.m.
Bandelier National Monument
15 Entrance Rd.
Los Alamos, NM 87544

s_parkscarlsbadCarlsbad Caverns National Park
June 2, 4 p.m.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
727 Caverns Hwy.
Carlsbad NM 88220

Everglades National Park
June 2, 11 a.m.
Ernest Coe Visitor Center
40001 State Rd 9336
Homestead, FL 33034

s_parksglacierGlacier Bay National Park and Preserve
June 2, 11 a.m.
1250 Gustavus Rd.
Gustavus, AK 99226-9998

Grand Canyon National Park
June 2 11 a.m.
100 Mather Business Center
Grand Canyon AZ 86023

s_parksgulfiGulf Islands National Seashore
June 2, 10 a.m.

Haleakalā National Park
June 2, 11 a.m.
Makawao Post Office
1075 Makawao Ave.
Makawao HI 96768

Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens
June 2, 11 a.m.
Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens
1550 Anacostia Ave. NE
Washington, DC 20019

s_parksmarshMarsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park (NHP)
June 4, 10:30 a.m.
The Forest Center at Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller NHP
54 Elm Street
Woodstock, VT  05091
Parking for the event is across the street at the Billings Farm & Museum. There is a short walk from the parking area to the Forest Center.  Alternative access is available for those with limited mobility. Please call ahead to make arrangements 802.457.3368 x222.

Mount Rainier National Park
June 2 11 a.m.
Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center,
Mount Rainier National Park
Paradise, WA

s_parkssfmaritimeSan Francisco Maritime Historical National Park
June 2, 11 a.m.
San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park
2905 Hyde Street
San Francisco, CA 94109

Theodore Roosevelt National Park
June 2, 11 a.m.
Medora Community Center
465 Pacific Ave.
Medora, ND 58645

Yellowstone National Park
June 2, 9 a.m.
2 Mammoth Hotel Dr.
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190

Updated April 29th: The first day postmarks: parks_dcp_vscThe DCP measures 2.4″ x 1.5″ parks_bw_vscThe pictorial first-day postmark measures 2.4″ x 1.5″. parks_ded_vscThe dedication postmark measures 3.0″ x 1.5″

Updated April 29th: from the Postal Bulletin
s_natparksOn June 2, 2016, in New York, NY, the U.S. Postal Service® will issue the National Parks stamps (Forever® priced at 47 cents) in 16 designs, in a pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA) pane of 16 stamps (Item 560600). The National Parks pane of 16 stamps may not be split, and the stamps may not be sold individually.

The stamps will go on sale nationwide June 2, 2016.

With this pane of stamps, issued in 2016 to coincide with the centennial of the National Park Service, the U.S. Postal Service encourages everyone to visit our national parks and discover — or rediscover — abundant opportunities for exploration, learning, and fun. This pane includes 16 different stamps that feature existing art or photographs of national parks or plants, animals, artwork, objects, and structures found in or associated with a national park. Small type on the margin of each stamp indicates its location.

s_natparksFirst row, left to right: Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Alaska (Tom Bean, photographer); Mount Rainier National Park, Washington (Matt Dieterich, photographer); “Scenery in the Grand Tetons” (Albert Bierstadt, artist; painting at Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, Vermont); Bass Harbor Head Light at Acadia National Park, Maine (David Muench, photographer).

Second row, left to right: “The Grand Canyon of Arizona, from Hermit Rim Road” (Thomas Moran, artist; chromolithograph-on-canvas at Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona); Assateague Island National Seashore, Virginia and Maryland (Tim Fitzharris, photographer).

Third row, left to right: Balclutha, a ship at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, California (Tim Campbell, photographer); Arches National Park, Utah (Tom Till, photographer); Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota (QT Luong, photographer); Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, Washington, D.C. (Cindy Dyer, photographer).

Fourth row, left to right: Administration Building at Frijoles Canyon, Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico (Helmuth Naumer, Sr., artist); Everglades National Park, Florida (Paul Marcellini, photographer).

Fifth row, left to right: Haleakalá National Park, Hawaii (Kevin Ebi, photographer); Yellowstone National Park, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming (Art Wolfe, photographer); Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico (Richard McGuire, photographer); Gulf Islands National Seashore, Florida and Mississippi (John Funderburk, photographer).

The image at the center of the pane is a detail of the 1-cent Yosemite stamp issued in 1934, rendered here in light brown. The pane includes selvage text and verso text. Art director Ethel Kessler designed the stamps and the stamp pane.

Initial Supply to Post Offices: Item 560600, $7.52, National Parks (Forever priced at 47 cents) Commemorative PSA Pane of 16 Stamps

Stamp Fulfillment Services will make an automatic push distribution to Post Offices™ of a quantity to cover approximately 30 days of sales. Distribution quantities for the automatic push distribution will be available by logging on to SFS Web at https:⁄⁄ Post Offices may begin ordering stamps prior to the FDOI through SFS Web. However, offices should check the website noted above to determine the amount they will receive on their automatic push distribution.

There are special dedication postmarks for this issue.

How to Order the First-Day-of-Issue Postmark:
s_parkssfmaritimeCustomers 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:⁄⁄⁄shop, or by calling 800-782-6724. 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:

National Parks Stamps
Special Events Coordinator
380 West 33rd Street
New York, NY 10199-9998

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. There is a 5-cent charge for each additional postmark over 50. All orders must be postmarked by August 2, 2016.

There are eight philatelic products for this stamp issue:

  • 560606, Press Sheet with Die-cut, $67.68 (print quantity 3,000)
  • 560610 Keepsake, $9.95
  • 560616 First-Day Cover (set of 16), $14.56
  • 560618 First-Day Cover, Full Pane, $10.02
  • 560619 Cancelled Full Pane, $10.02
  • 560621 Digital Color Postmark (set of 16), $25.92
  • 560624 Framed Art, $39.95
  • 560630 Ceremony Program (random single), $6.95

Technical Specifications:

s_natparksIssue: National Parks Stamps
Item Number: 560600
Denomination & Type of Issue: First-Class Mail Forever
Format: Pane of 16 (16 designs)
Series: N⁄A
Issue Date & City: June 2, 2016
Designer: Ethel Kessler, Bethesda, MD
Art Director: Ethel Kessler, Bethesda, MD
Typographer: Ethel Kessler, Bethesda, MD
Modeler: Sandra Lane⁄Michelle Finn
Manufacturing Process: Offset, Microprint
Printer: Banknote Corporation of America
Printed at: Browns Summit, NC
Press Type: Alprinta 74
Stamps per Pane: 16
Print Quantity: 100 million stamps
Paper Type: Phosphor Tagged Paper, Block
Adhesive Type: Pressure-sensitive
Processed at: Banknote Corporation of America, Browns Summit SC
Colors: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black, PMS 4575 (Gold), PMS 4495 (Gold)
Stamp Orientation: Horizontal and Vertical
Image Area (w x h):
1.68 x 1.05 in.⁄42.67 x 26.67 mm
0.77 x 1.05 in.⁄19.56 x 26.67 mm

Overall Size (w x h):
1.82 x 1.19 in.⁄46.23 x 30.23 mm
0.91 x 1.19 in.⁄23.11 x 30.23 mm

Full Pane Size (w x h): 7.25 x 7.25 in.⁄184.15 x 184.15 mm
Press Sheets Size (w x h): 21.75 x 21.75 in.⁄552.45 x 552.45 mm
Plate Size: 144 stamps per revolution
Plate Numbers: N⁄A Marginal Markings:
Front: Header: National Parks
Back: © 2016 USPS • USPS logo • Barcode (560600) in upper right and lower left corners of pane • Promotional text • Summary of “National Parks”

Updated April 28th: from the USPS:

Postal Service Previews Complete Pane of 16 Stamps
Celebrating National Park Service’s Centennial s_natparks
Designer Ethel Kessler arranged the stamps to approximate their locations around America: Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve on the upper left; Maine’s Acadia National Park on the upper right; Hawaii’s Haleakalā National Park on the bottom left; and Florida’s and Mississippi’s Gulf Islands National Seashore on the bottom right.

Updated April 22nd: from the USPS:

Postal Service Previews Fifteenth of 16 Stamps
Celebrating National Park Service’s Centennial
Stamp Highlights Yellowstone National Park s_parksyellow
WASHINGTON — A stunning photograph of two bison silhouetted in Yellowstone National Park’s winter morning sun was previewed today as the last of 16 Forever Stamp images to be revealed over a three-week period to celebrate the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary. The uniquely designed stamp pane containing all 16 stamp images will be previewed later this week.

The image was captured by Art Wolfe of Seattle, WA, who described it as, “perfectly backlit bison standing on a small rise in Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley.”

“Rising at dawn and braving the -30°F temperature I was able to catch the first rays of the morning sun,” he explained. “The bitter cold of a long winter’s night had left the animals encased in a mantle of thick frost. I had scouted the area the day before and had seen the herd of bison. They had bedded down there all night and now were standing and trying to shake off the cold as the sun came over the horizon. These are the serendipitous moments I wait for as a photographer. I shot this in the days of film, so I didn’t know until I got back to Seattle and had the film processed if I had been successful or not.”

Wolfe got the February 2000 shot using a Canon EOS-3, EF70-200mm lens set at f/16 for 1/250 sec. using Fujichrome Velvia film.

Yellowstone National Park, ID, MT and WY
Marvel. Explore. Discover. Visit Yellowstone and experience the world’s first national park. Marvel at a volcano’s hidden power rising up in colorful hot springs, mud pots and geysers. Explore mountains, forests and lakes to watch wildlife and witness the drama of the natural world unfold. Discover the history that led to the conservation of our national treasures “for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.” Visit this link for more information.

Updated April 22nd: from the USPS:

Postal Service Previews Fifteenth of 16 Stamps
Celebrating National Park Service’s Centennial
Stamp Highlights Theodore Roosevelt National Park s_parkstr
WASHINGTON — A photograph of the Little Missouri River winding through the Badlands of North Dakota’s Theodore Roosevelt National Park was previewed today as the 15th of 16 Forever Stamp images to be revealed over a three-week period to celebrate the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary.

The photograph was taken in July 2013 by Q.T. Luong of San Jose, CA, who captured the image in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the course of his 20-year project to photograph 59 national parks.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, ND
According to the National Park Service, when Theodore Roosevelt came to Dakota Territory to hunt bison in 1883, he was a “skinny, young, spectacled New Yorker.” He could not have imagined how his adventure in this remote and unfamiliar place would forever alter the course of the nation. The rugged landscape and strenuous life he experienced here would help shape a conservation policy that we still benefit from today.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park contains several sites of historical significance, each relating to the era of cattle ranching in the late 1800s. Most significant is Theodore Roosevelt’s Elkhorn Ranch Site, the main ranch site where he spent the bulk of his time and where many of his conservation ideas grew. Roosevelt’s first ranch home, the Maltease Cross Cabin, is open for viewing at the South Unit Visitor Center.

The Long X Trail was used as a corridor to move cattle into the Northern Great Plains in the 1800s, and it passes through the North Unit of the park. Peaceful Valley Ranchwas built in the 1880s and served as a dude ranch from 1918 to the 1930s. The ranch and its owners assisted in the establishment of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Visitors can still ride horses at Peaceful Valley by taking part in a trail ride with the park’s concessionaire. Visit this link for more information.

The Backstory of Luong’s Photograph
Luong was interested in the park’s rugged character and vegetation that set it apart from South Dakota’s Badlands National Park.

“The light of the late afternoon gleaming on the river appeared as a bright ribbon in the landscape,” recounted Luong, who used a telephoto lens to emphasize the section of the river with the reflection.

Luong noted that the park includes three units: the South Unit and the far lesser visited North Unit and Elkhorn Ranch Site.

“The Little Missouri River provides a link between them, reminding me of the fond memories I cherish from the time I spent there.”

Born in Paris, France, Luong trained as a computer scientist. When he came to the United States for what was intended to be a short academic stay, he chose the University of California at Berkeley because of its proximity to Yosemite and his passion for rock-climbing — where he scaled El Capitan several times.

“Upon visiting Yosemite for the first time in 1993, it was love at first sight and it marked the start of my 20-year affair with the national parks. I decided to photograph all of them with a 5 by 7 large format camera, a single-handed, self-financed, monumental project which, as far as I know, had not been completed by anyone before.”

Luong settled in the San Francisco Bay area and started crisscrossing the nation to capture its diverse beauty. By 2002, he had visited 58 national parks. He subsequently left his scientific career to pursue his calling of working as a full-time photographer. In 2009, Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan featured him in the film “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.”

Also added April 25th:

The picture was taken in July 2013 by Q.T. Luong of San Jose, CA, who captured the image in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the course of his 20-year project to photograph 59 national parks. In 2009, Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan featured him in the film “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.”

Check out this three-minute PBS video of his segment on YouTube.

Updated April 21st: from the USPS:

Postal Service Previews Fourteenth of 16 Stamps
Celebrating National Park Service’s Centennial
Stamp Highlights San Francisco Maritime Historical Park s_parkssfmaritime
WASHINGTON — A photograph of an iconic three-masted sailing ship was previewed today to highlight San Francisco Maritime Historic National Park as the 14th of 16 Forever Stamp images to be revealed over a three-week period to celebrate the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary.

San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park, CA
The stamp image* is a portion of a photograph by Tim Campbell of San Francisco, CA, of the square-rigger, Balclutha. Just visible to the right of the deep waterman/salmon packet sailing vessel is the 1907 steam tugboat Hercules.

Located near the Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park offers the sights, sounds, smells and stories of Pacific Coast maritime history through five National Historic Landmark vessels berthed here. Visit this link for more information.

Updated April 20th: from the USPS:

Postal Service Previews Thirteenth of 16 Stamps
Celebrating National Park Service’s Centennial
Stamp Depicts Mount Rainier National Park s_parksmtrainier

WASHINGTON — A stunning star trail photograph comprised from 200 images was previewed today to celebrate Washington’s Mount Rainier as the 13th of 16 Forever Stamp images to be revealed over a three-week period to celebrate the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary.

Mount Rainier National Park, WA
Ascending to 14,410 feet above sea level, Mount Rainier stands as an icon in the Washington landscape. An active volcano, Mount Rainier is the most glaciated peak in the contiguous United States, spawning six major rivers. Subalpine wildflower meadows ring the icy volcano while ancient forest cloaks Mount Rainier’s lower slopes. Wildlife abounds in the park’s ecosystems. A lifetime of discovery awaits. Visit this link for more information about the park.

Creating the Star Trail Photo
The stamp image is the creation of Matt Dieterich of Pittsburgh, PA. “This night was one I will never forget,” said Dieterich, who worked at Mount Rainier as an intern with the National Park Service Geoscientist-in-the-Parks to educate the public on dramatic views of the stars and the effect of light pollution near highly populated areas. “After working with visitors at the Mount Rainier astronomy program on June 22, 2015, I noticed there was an aurora, so I drove down to Reflection Lake to capture it.”

“The location was perfect as it contained a view of Mount Rainier and water for reflections,” he continued. “To create this star trails image I took 200 photos in a two-hour window between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. with my Nikon D750 and 24mm lens set at F/1.4 and ISO 5000. Since the Earth is rotating, each 8-sec. exposure shows stars at slightly different locations. When the photos are combined into one image the stars create a circular pattern around the North Star, which is just out of view at the top of the image. The pink aurora spread throughout the background sky. Mountaineers can be seen with their white headlamps climbing Mount Rainier on the right side of the volcano.”

“To capture star trails photos just like this,” he added, “all you need is a digital single lens reflex camera, a wide angle lens, tripod and shutter release cable. So what are you waiting for? Grab your gear and get out under the stars!”

Updated April 19th: from the USPS:

Postal Service Previews Twelfth of 16 Stamps
Celebrating National Park Service’s Centennial
Stamp Depicts a Painting at the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park that Highlights the Conservation Movement that Led to the First National Parks s_parksmarsh
WASHINGTON — An iconic Hudson River School of Art landscape painting linked to the Conservation Movement that supported interest in creating the National Park system was previewed today as the12th of 16 Forever Stamp images to celebrate the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary.

“This stamp exemplifies how our national park treasures extend beyond stunning vistas, wildlife, flora and fauna,” said Stephanie Toothman, Associate Director, Cultural Resources, Partnerships, and Science, National Park Service. “Albert Bierstadt’s painting represents the convergence of artistic, literary and political attention toward America’s scenic beauty in the 19th century, which helped establish conservation as a national value and laid the foundation for the first national parks a century ago.”

The stamp image is a detail of Bierstadt’s (1830–1902) 29-by-43-inch oil-on-canvas painting “Scenery in the Grand Tetons.” The permanent home of the painting is Laurance Rockefeller’s study in the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller Mansion. The stamp image shows Scenery in the Grand Tetons by Albert Bierstadt, courtesy Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, MABI 2843

The Conservation Movement and the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park (NHP)
The fine art collection at Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park is one of the gems of the National Park Service and includes 500 nature and landscape paintings, many by artists associated with the Hudson River School. The collection also includes folk art, modern art, portraits and sculpture.

According to the National Park Service, Rockefeller acquired the painting in the 1960s and added it to the collection of the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller Mansion as “a reminder of his family’s long loyalty to Grand Teton National Park, and the preservation of the mountains, lake and valley in that spectacularly beautiful and dramatic part of the West.”

The Hudson River School Art Movement
During the 19th century, the artists of a young America searched for a new world view and found it in the very landscapes around them. Inspired by the stunning natural beauty from across the nation, the loose-knit Hudson River School of painters flourished from the mid-1830s to the mid-1870s and gave America its first major school of art.

According to the National Park Service, “Their landscapes sought to recreate the majesty of the natural world and to inspire admiration for its beauty.” Americans who bought their paintings and admired them on the walls of their city homes came to believe that those scenes should be preserved for future generations, not just painted or photographed.

At the same time, the works of authors such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson also celebrated the beauty and importance of nature.

Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park
The name of the park honors three individuals and their families who played important roles in American conservation history: George Perkins Marsh (1801-1882), Frederick Billings (1823-1890) and Laurance S. Rockefeller (1910-2004).

The lives and contributions of these three generations of stewardship reflect the wide range of attitudes and ideas in the evolution of the conservation movement in the United States. The site was the boyhood home of G. P. Marsh, one of America’s first conservationists, whose 1864 book, Man and Nature, decried the effects of deforestation in Vermont and around the world and provided the intellectual underpinnings of the early conservation movement.

Later, it was the home of Billings, who returned to his native Vermont from California, transformed the property into a progressive farm and country estate, and reforested much of the land around the Mansion. Its most recent owners, Billings’ granddaughter Mary Rockefeller and her husband Laurance Rockefeller, gave the property and its collections to the American people, the latest in a long history of support for National Parks by the Rockefeller family. Rockefeller received the Congressional Gold Medal in 1991 for his contributions to conservation and historic preservation.

Updated April 18th: from the USPS:

Postal Service Previews Eleventh of 16 Stamps
Celebrating National Park Service’s Centennial
Stamp Highlights Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens s_parkskenilworth
WASHINGTON — A Sacred Lotus with a bloom the size of a basketball in Washington, DC’s Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens is featured on the 11th of 16 Forever Stamp images. The stamps are being revealed individually over a three-week period to celebrate the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary.

Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens, DC
The stamp image was photographed by Cindy Dyer of Alexandria, VA, who also provided the images from Kenilworth for the Water Lilies Forever Stamps issued last year. The Sacred Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera), is the star attraction at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens during its blooming period from late June to early September.

This breathtaking plant is a sample of the hidden treasures tucked away in this time capsule surrounded by urban neighborhoods in our nation’s capital. The original water lilies were planted by a Civil War veteran who bought the 30-acre parcel in the 1880s. The park’s wetlands also provide habitat for many animals including fox, mink and otter. Visit this link for more information.

Updated April 15th: from the USPS:

Postal Service Previews Tenth of 16 Stamps
Celebrating National Park Service’s Centennial
Stamp Highlights Haleakalā National Park s_haleakala
WASHINGTON — A stunning photograph of the late afternoon sun shining into a heavy rain storm, forming rainbows over the crater at Haleakalā National Park, Maui, HI, is the 10th of 16 Forever Stamp images to be revealed over a three-week period to celebrate the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary.

Haleakalā National Park, HI
Haleakalā National Park vibrates with stories of ancient and modern Hawaiian culture and protects the bond between the land and its people. The park also cares for endangered species, some of which exist nowhere else. Come visit this special place — renew your spirit amid stark volcanic landscapes and sub-tropical rain forest with an unforgettable hike through the backcountry. Visit this link for more information.

The Story Behind the Photo
The photograph is the work of Kevin Ebi, who lives near Seattle, WA. Following is his narrative of capturing the image:

“When you think of Hawaii, you probably imagine continuous summer, warm water and hot beaches. But a couple hours after landing on Maui, I was in the freezing cold, pelted by hail, surrounded by thunderclouds. For a few minutes at a time, the sun would briefly break through it, using rainbows as spotlights to illuminate Haleakalā’s volcanic cinder cones.

As a nature photographer, I was in heaven — or at least 10,000 feet closer to it.

Whether it’s because of the explosive growth of photography, or our need to take a break from our always-on, connected lives, our national parks are busier than ever. But for me, they can still be wondrous places of solitude. Such was the case that afternoon I spent chasing Haleakalā’s rainbows.

My day started as a scouting trip. Haleakalā is known for stunning sunrises. Getting that sunrise would require me to arrive at my shooting location while it was still dark. I decided to take a look at the crater during the day in order to determine where I wanted to be the next morning.

But the closer I got to Haleakalā’s summit, the less I could see. The fog got thicker and thicker. Then there was heavy rain. Then the rain turned to hail. I sprinted from the car into the visitor center, hoping to catch a bit of the view through the window. All I could make out was the railing of the viewing platform.

It quickly became clear that the storm wouldn’t stop. The few visitors in the center sprinted to their cars. I decided to stay put.

Then something amazing happened. The hail turned into a light drizzle. Sunlight poked through a tiny hole in the ominous cloud. And a rainbow dipped into the crater.

I managed to get a few shots before the sun slid back behind the storm clouds and the pelting hail resumed. It was a beautiful scene. Much of Haleakalā’s beauty comes from its rainbow-colored rocks. The rainbow in the sky complemented that nicely.

But I hoped for better placement of the rainbow. In those first images it was off to the side of the crater. I knew that as the sun moved across the sky, weather permitting, rainbows later in the day would land closer to a core group of cinder cones that I found especially attractive. And so I waited.

During the hour and a half I spent on the rim, the storm gave me just six opportunities to photograph rainbows. My favorite image — and the one that is used on the stamp — was taken during the next-to-last ‘window.’ It was also the briefest opportunity. I was able to shoot only a single frame before the rainbow vanished.

Back in the car, with the heat and the de-fogger set on high, I was thankful for the experience even though I was soaked. In all of my work as a photographer, I treasure most the images that show nature at its dynamic finest. Braving an intense hailstorm is just part of the experience — a key part of the experience.

National parks take us into a different world, a world of jaw-dropping scenery and experiences that are dramatically different from our daily lives. This image of Haleakalā is both to me. And it’s why I’m so honored that it will help commemorate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.”

Updated April 14th: from the USPS:

Postal Service Previews Ninth of 16 Stamps
Celebrating National Park Service’s Centennial
Stamp Highlights Gulf Islands National Seashore s_parksgulfi
WASHINGTON — A photograph of a long-legged water bird with a wingspan that can exceed six feet was previewed today to highlight Gulf Islands National Seashore as the ninth of 16 Forever Stamp images to be revealed over a three-week period to celebrate the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary.

Gulf Islands National Seashore, FL and MS
The stamp image is a photograph of a heron by amateur photographer John Funderburk of Hernando, FL. Whether you visit the seashore for a day or a week there are many activities and places to explore. Each of the seashore’s many areas in Florida and Mississippi offer unique experiences. Visit this link for more information.

Updated April 13th: from the USPS:

Postal Service Previews Eighth of 16 Stamps
Celebrating National Park Service’s Centennial
Stamp Highlights Grand Canyon National Park s_parksgcanyon
WASHINGTON — An iconic painting of one of the seven natural wonders of the world — the Grand Canyon — was previewed today as the eighth of 16 Forever Stamp images to be revealed over a three-week period to celebrate the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary.

Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
The stamp image is a detail of a chromolithograph-on-canvas, “The Grand Canyon of Arizona, from Hermit Rim Road,” by artist Thomas Moran (1837–1926). Unique combinations of geologic color and erosional forms decorate a canyon that is 277 river miles long, up to 18 miles wide and one mile deep. Grand Canyon overwhelms our senses through its immense size. Visit this link for more information about the park.

Updated April 12th: from the USPS:

Postal Service Previews Seventh of 16 Stamps
Celebrating National Park Service’s Centennial
Stamp Highlights Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve s_parksglacier
WASHINGTON — A stunning photograph of Glacier Bay was previewed today as the seventh of 16 Forever Stamp images to be revealed over a three-week period to celebrate the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary.

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, AK
The stamp image is a photograph by Tom Bean of Flagstaff, AZ. Covering 3.3 million acres of rugged mountains, dynamic glaciers, temperate forests, wild coastlines and deep sheltered fjords, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is a highlight of Alaska’s Inside Passage and part of a 25-million acre World Heritage Site — one of the world’s largest international protected areas. From sea to summit, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve offers limitless opportunities for adventure and inspiration. Visit this link for more information.

The photograph is by Tom Bean of Flagstaff, AZ. He writes, courtesy of the USPS:

Notes on Photographing Glacier Bay National Park, by Tom Bean

“My personal history with photography is very closely tied to the National Park Service.

I graduated from Iowa State University in 1971 with a degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Management, but I had no real interest or experience with photography. I didn’t even own a camera.

My first job out of college was with the National Park Service, working five summers as a seasonal ranger-naturalist at Wind Cave National Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota. While there, I developed an interest in photographing its magnificent wildlife and varied landscapes of prairie and forest, to illustrate my evening campfire programs—the slide shows and lectures about the park that I presented in an outdoor amphitheater. My boss, Chief Naturalist Jack O’Brien, encouraged me. He even let me borrow some of the park’s equipment so that I could shoot photos for the park’s slide files, to be used by the rest of the staff. I bought my first camera in 1972.

By 1976, I was offered my first job as a professional photographer. Jack O’Brien hired me to shoot photos for the slide files at Grand Canyon National Park, where he was then Chief Naturalist. That same year, I was offered a summer ranger job at Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska. I think one reason I was offered this job was my experience taking photos for Wind Cave and Grand Canyon national parks.

I spent five summers at Glacier Bay National Park, and one at Denali National Park. At Glacier Bay, I spent most of my days off out in the park, photographing the majestic beauty of its mountains, glaciers, rainforest, mist, and fog.

In 1982, I decided to see if it could be possible to make a living as a professional nature photographer. I moved to Flagstaff, Arizona, largely because it is near to so many of America’s great national parks.

I returned to Glacier Bay National Park in 1987, this time to photograph for the National Geographic Society. My assignment was to shoot the Inside Passage, from Vancouver in Canada all the way up to Glacier Bay. The photo used on the Glacier Bay National Park stamp was taken while I was on a kayak trip there in July, 1987. We were camped at Reid Inlet, where a beautiful sunset reflected in the still waters as this iceberg floated slowly past our campsite.

This photo did not make it into the final edit of the book project I was working on for National Geographic, but it has always been one of my favorite images from that assignment. I’m so pleased it has been selected for this postage stamp that commemorates the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service. I’ve been fortunate to be able to visit a great many of our national park areas in my career and recording the special qualities that make each park unique has been my inspiration every time a visit a park and a central theme of my life as a photographer.”

Updated April 11th: from the USPS:

Postal Service Previews Sixth of 16 Stamps
Celebrating National Park Service’s Centennial
Stamp Highlights Everglades National Park s_parkseverglades
WASHINGTON — A setting sun photograph of pinelands and grasses in the United States’ largest subtropical wilderness — Everglades National Park — was previewed today as the sixth of 16 Forever Stamp images to be revealed over a three-week period to celebrate the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary.

Everglades National Park, FL
The stamp image is a photograph by Paul Marcellini of Miami, FL. Spanning the south Florida peninsula from Miami to Naples and south to the Florida Keys, Everglades National Park’s 1.5 million acres of sawgrass prairies, tropical hardwood hammocks, pine rocklands, mangrove forests and marine and estuarine waters provide habitat for a wildlife spectacle like no other. Crocodiles, alligators, manatees, flamingos, herons and turtles are just a small sampling of wildlife that can be seen here. Visit this link for more information about the park.

Updated April 8th: from the USPS:

Postal Service Previews Fifth of 16 Stamps
Celebrating National Park Service’s Centennial
Stamp Highlights New Mexico’s Carlsbad Caverns National Park s_parkscarlsbad
WASHINGTON — A dramatic photograph of the interior of Carlsbad Caverns was previewed today as the fifth of 16 Forever Stamp images to be revealed over a three-week period to celebrate the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
The stamp image is a photograph by Richard McGuire of the interior of the caverns. High ancient sea ledges, deep rocky canyons, flowering cacti and desert wildlife are all treasures above and below the Chihuahuan Desert ground. Carlsbad Cavern is one of more than 300 limestone caves in a fossil reef laid down by an inland sea 240 million to 280 million years ago. Visit this link for more information.

Other National Park Forever Stamps previewed to date include Acadia National Park and Arches National Park, Assateague Island National Seashore and Bandelier National Monument.

Updated April 7th: from the USPS:

Postal Service Previews Fourth of 16 Stamps
Celebrating National Park Service’s Centennial
Stamp Highlights New Mexico’s Bandelier National Monument s_parksbandelier
WASHINGTON — A 1930s painting by renowned artist Helmuth Naumer depicting the Pueblo Revival-style visitor center at Bandelier National Monument near Los Alamos, NM, was previewed today as the fourth of 16 Forever stamp images to be revealed over a three week period to celebrate the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary.

Bandelier National Monument, NM
The stamp image is a 1935–1936 pastel-on-paper depiction by Helmuth Naumer, Sr. (1907–1990) of the visitor center in Frijoles Canyon. Bandelier National Monument protects over 33,000 acres of rugged, beautiful canyon and mesa country as well as evidence of a human presence here going back more than 11,000 years. Petroglyphs, dwellings carved into the soft rock cliffs, and standing masonry walls pay tribute to the early days of a culture that still survives in the surrounding communities. Visit this link for information on this national treasure.

Administration Building, Frijoles Canyon
Helmuth Naumer, Sr.
Bandelier National Monument, BAND 1409

Updated April 6th: from the USPS:

Postal Service Previews Third of 16 Stamps
Celebrating National Park Service’s Centennial
Stamp Highlights Assateague Island National Seashore s_parksassateague
WASHINGTON — Wild horses of Maryland’s and Virginia’s Assateague Island National Seashore were previewed today as the third of 16 Forever Stamp images to be revealed over a three-week period to celebrate the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary. A photograph by Tim Fitzharris of Fayetteville, AR, was used to create the image.

Assateague Island National Seashore, MD and VA
This barrier island is a tale of constant movement and change. Explore sandy beaches, salt marshes, maritime forests and coastal bays. Bands of wild horses freely roam amongst plants and native animals that have adapted to a life of sand, salt and wind. Visit this linkfor more information about Assateague Island National Seashore. Other National Park Forever Stamps previewed to date include Acadia National Park and Arches National Park.

Updated April 5th: from the USPS:

Postal Service Previews Second of 16 Stamps
Celebrating National Park Service’s Centennial
Stamp Highlights Utah’s Arches National Park

s_parksarchesWASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. Postal Service previewed the second in its series of 16 Forever stamps commemorating the centennial of the National Park Service. The 16 stamps, intended to represent the diversity of areas in our national park system, are being previewed over the next three weeks.

Arches National Park, Moab, UT
The stamp image is a photograph by Tom Till of Moab, UT, and represents the iconic Delicate Arch. Delicate Arch is just one of more than 2,000 stone arches in a park that contains the greatest density of natural arches in the world. The park is a landscape of contrasting colors, landforms and textures with thousands of natural stone arches, hundreds of soaring pinnacles, massive fins and giant balanced rocks. Visit this link for more information about Arches National Park and this link to download the Arches Visitor Guide.

The Postal Service previewed the Acadia National Park Forever stamp yesterday.

The June 2 first-day-of-issue ceremony for the National Parks Forever stamps pane will take place at New York City’s Javits Center at 11 a.m. as part of World Stamp Show-NY 2016. Dedication ceremonies also will take place at or near each of the National Parks depicted on the stamps. Individuals are encouraged to spread the news on social media by using the hashtags #FindYourPark or #NPS100.

Updated April 4th: from the USPS:

Postal Service Previews First of 16 Stamps
Celebrating National Park Service’s Centennial
Stamp Depicts Acadia National Park’s Bass Harbor Head Light s_parkacadia
WASHINGTON — A stamp image featuring a stunning photograph of Acadia National Park’s Bass Harbor Head Light was previewed today as the first of 16 Forever stamp images to be revealed over a three week period to celebrate the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary.

The June 2 first-day-of-issue ceremony for the National Parks Forever stamps pane will take place at New York City’s Javits Center at 11 a.m. as part of World Stamp Show-NY 2016. Dedication ceremonies also will take place at or near each of the National Parks depicted on the stamps. Individuals are asked to spread the news on social media by using the hashtags #FindYourPark or #NPS100.

Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, ME
The stamp image depicting the Bass Harbor Head Light was photographed by David Muench. People have been drawn to the rugged coast of Maine throughout history. Awed by its beauty and diversity, early 20th-century visionaries donated the land that became Acadia National Park. The park is home to many plants and animals, and the tallest mountain on the U.S. Atlantic coast. Today visitors come to Acadia to hike granite peaks, bike historic carriage roads, or relax and enjoy the scenery. For more information on Acadia, visit this link.

World Stamp Show-NY 2016 will take place May 28 – June 4. Held only once a decade this mega event is not to be missed by beginners through advanced stamp collectors alike. There will be something for everyone there, no matter what you collect. Stamp collecting is a hobby for a lifetime. No matter what your specialty, you’ll find it at the show.

Updated March 30th: The first-day is June 2nd. The designs will be previewed one at a time “to build excitement.”

Press release:

National Park Service’s 100th Anniversary
to be Celebrated on Forever Stamps
16 Parks to be Previewed

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Postal Service will begin celebrating the National Park Service’s Aug. 25 centennial just in time for summer vacation letter writing by issuing a pane of stunning Forever stamps depicting 16 examples of our national treasures on June 2.

To create buzz and excitement among national park fans, each stamp will be previewed alphabetically over the next three weeks, beginning Monday, April 4.

“These stamps celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Parks and depict the beauty and diversity of these national treasures,” said Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan. “They serve as an inspiration for Americans to visit, learn and to write cherished memories of their trips to these incredible wonders.”

“This set of stamps will take people on a journey to some of the most amazing places in the world,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “We are thrilled that the 16 national park stamps issued in ’16 for the centennial depict the variety of parks that collectively tell the story of our country.”

The June 2 first-day-of-issue ceremony will take place at New York City’s Javits Center at 11 a.m. as part of World Stamp Show NY-2016. Dedication ceremonies also will take place at or near each of the national parks depicted on the stamps. Individuals are asked to spread the news on social media by using the hashtags #FindYourPark or #NPS100.

World Stamp Show NY-2016 will take place May 28-June 4. Held only once a decade, this mega event is not to be missed by beginners through advanced stamp collectors alike. There will be something for everyone there, no matter what you collect. Stamp collecting is a hobby for a lifetime. No matter what your specialty, you’ll find it at the show.

End of an Era: ArtCraft Cachets Discontinued

by Lloyd A. de Vries
Manager, The Virtual Stamp Club

ac_39fair_vscThe 1939 New York World’s Fair stamps was the first ArtCraft cachet.

The 2015 Geometric Snowflakes was the last.

In January 2016, Washington Stamp Exchange “concluded that the decreasing volume of sales could no longer sustain the high costs of production.”

Each modern ArtCraft cachet required two printing processes, applied in different facilities: The color was lithography, the lettering was engraving.

Engraved printing is expensive, but “We like the engraved look,” Washington Press president Mike August, told The Virtual Stamp Club in a 2014 interview. “It’s a signature of what we’ve produced for 75 years.”

ac_wssnyc16_vsc“We certainly want to maintain that connection with our heritage and our legacy,” added co-owner Tim Devaney. “It began with engraving, we still use engraving as an integral part of our product.”

Founder Leo August (Tim Devaney’s father-in-law) first began producing cachets in the late 1920s for flight covers, when the Newark Chamber of Commerce and city government didn’t want to be bothered with collector requests. By the early 1930s, brother Sam (Michael’s father) had joined the business and WSE had branched out to include first day covers under the trade name “WSE” and others.

ac_sweden_joint_vscIn a 1973 interview for the American First Day Cover Society archives, the brother told interviewer Curtis Patterson they couldn’t afford to license the use of the fair’s symbols, the Trylon and Perisphere.

However, Woodbury Engraving, which specialized in engraved stationery for businesses and had been printing envelopes for WSE, did have the rights to use the symbols, and ArtCraft was able to use the Woodbury design shown here.

ac_tedwms1_vscWoodbury printed every ArtCraft cachet from that first issue through the West Point issue in 2001 (Sc. 3560).

ArtCraft wasn’t the first commercially-produced FDC cachet, and there are arguments whether it lasted longer than any other. However, it was certainly the longest ever produced by the same family or company.

ArtCraft was one of the few cachetmakers producing designs for every U.S. issue and also possibly the only one still selling unserviced cacheted envelopes. Both were available individually or through subscriptions.

VSC has been told that FDC dealer Marilyn Nowak is taking over the subscriptions, using cachets produced by Panda Cachets, owned by Rollin Berger. Berger confirmed online that he is producing cachets for at least two companies formerly served by ArtCraft.

ac_simpsons2The January announcement only affects ArtCraft Cachets for new issues. “Contrary to rumors currently circulating, Washington Press [the publishing arm of Washington Stamp Exchange] is not going out of business,” Devaney told The VSC in e-mail. The press release amplified that, saying that the company would continue to sell back issues, stamps and other collectibles, and produce White Ace stamp albums and StampMount mounts.

But no more new issue FDCs.

“Our conclusion was that producing new ArtCraft first day covers had been a burden on our resources for a several years and that we could not continue to do this,” Michael August posted online.

• • •


ArtCraft was, in some ways, the victim of its own success. WSE did such a good job of selling the serviced and unserviced FDCs, both to collectors and to mass marketers, that they became common. Every first day cover collection had or had had some. Dealers offered pennies on the dollar for them, knowing there would be more available whenever they wanted them. Experienced collectors skipped them, knowing there would be more available whenever they wanted them.

There were probably other factors at work: The U.S. Postal Service is issuing more “face-different” stamps than ever, and more sets: 20 Harry Potter, 10 “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” 10 Songbirds, 8 Vintage Circus Posters, 20 Pets in 2016 and so on. ArtCraft had a commitment to produce a cachet for every U.S. issue.

The Postal Service also hasn’t been as forthcoming with advance information about new issues in recent years. For many cachetmakers, that means rushing cachet design development and production. It can add to the expenses for a commercial concern.

ac_celebrate1More and more U.S. new issues (and those of other countries) depict commercial properties, such as celebrities, cartoon characters, and other pop culture. Their likenesses and sometimes even names should not be used without obtaining (i.e., buying) a license. Most collectors, especially non-philatelists, don’t want a generic design, they want to see Han Solo or Professor Dumbledore or 1948 Ford F-1 pickup or whatever. An individual cachetmaker producing a few dozen FDCs might get away with violating a copyright; a commercial entity producing thousands is more of a target.

ac_hpotter1_vscArtCraft was also slow to adopt color. Collectors began to favor hand-painted and –colored cachets or those produced using color inkjet computer printers.

And finally, ArtCraft may also have been hiding its light under a bushel. Those of us who saw ArtCraft’s current cachets at Americover 2014 were amazed at how good they were. Yet the company’s ads in First Days and elsewhere featured very small pictures of recent FDCs — easy to skip over or miss.

Like many FDC collectors upon hearing this news, I feel a little guilty: I could have, perhaps should have, subscribed to ArtCraft after seeing its work at Americover 2014. But I’m not sure it would have made a difference.

WSS-NY 2016 Promotional Material Available

January 20, 2016
For Immediate Release

WSS-NY 2016 Promotional Material Available

The World Stamp Show-NY 2016 Organizing Committee is making available a wealth of electronic files and handouts to assist others spread the word about this 8-day extravaganza taking place May 28-June 4 at the Javits Center in New York City.

Stamp shows large and small taking place between now and May can request a packet of material for their freebie table. Brochures, pamphlets, stickers, pins and souvenirs will be sent while supplies last. Request these directly by email from Christine Jimenez, WSS-NY 2016 Executive Assistant, at

A brand new “All About WSS-NY 2016” production is available for downloading in both PowerPoint and PDF formats. The 30 slides provide viewers with the historical background of the show, updated information about getting to and around the New York City area, show features and attractions. Anyone considering a trip to the show will find this of interest. Stamp clubs looking for a timely ready-made presentation will also find this valuable. It premiered at the APS AmeriStamp Expo 2016 in Atlanta.

A show advertising blitz is underway in major US and worldwide philatelic print publications. Ads created for these are available in hi-resolution PDF format in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian and (soon to be posted) Chinese in a variety of sizes. Any may be reproduced by philatelic editors for their own periodicals, programs, etc. As a courtesy, the show would appreciate knowing how and when these are being published, and receive a sample copy sent to headquarters if possible.

The presentation and ads can be found on the show’s Graphics/Ads page at Show logos in numerous sizes and formats are there, too, for anyone’s use in print or electronic media.

To paraphrase Frank Sinatra’s famous hit, “Keep spreading the news!”
Questions on any of the above, or about World Stamp Show-NY 2016 in general, may be sent to Remember to check out Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Thomas M. Fortunato
Chairman, Marketing & Public Relations

Hotchner: How to Collect U.S. Commemoratives

How to Collect U.S. Commemoratives
by John M. Hotchner

hotchnerIn the last column, we talked in this space about How to Collect the Presidential Series of 1938-1954. This prompted a couple of readers to remark on a trend that has been growing among stamp show exhibitors: They are picking a specific commemorative or commemorative series, and finding everything about it that can be collected in order to tell the story of how it came to be created, to how it was used to move the mails.

How big a trend is this? I have either seen or been told of exhibits that have already appeared centered on the following commemoratives: 1904 Louisiana Purchase set of five (1¢, 2¢, 3¢, 5¢, 10¢) 1909 2¢ Hudson-Fultons 1909 2¢ Alaska-Yukon-Pacifics 1926 2¢ Sesquicentennial Exposition 1929 2¢ George Rogers Clark 1939 3¢ New York World’s Fair 1945-6 Roosevelt Memorial set of four (1¢, 2¢, 3¢, 5¢), 1945 5¢ Toward the United Nations, 1947 3¢ Centennial Philatelic Exhibition commemorative & 15¢ souvenir sheet, 1956 3¢ King Salmon, 1958 3¢ International Geophysical Year, 1958 4¢ Forest Conservation, 1959 4¢ Oregon Statehood, 1959 4¢ St. Lawrence Seaway, 1959 4¢ Dental Health, 1962 4¢ World United Against Malaria, 1964 5¢ New York World’s Fair, 1965 5¢ Churchill Memorial, 1968 6¢ Walt Disney, 1984 20¢ Smokey Bear, 1984 20¢ Roberto Clemente, 1928 5¢ Beacon Air Mail, and 1948 5¢ New York City Air Mail.

In addition, there are exhibits that are focused on the Black Heritage stamps, a series that began in 1978 and continues; and on the Chinese New Year series that began in 1991 and was capped with a 2005 sheetlet showing all of the 12 designs that had been previously issued. Finally there is also a very well done exhibit that covers the joint issues that the United States has had with other countries; usually with similar designs.

I know of other exhibits being built but not yet ready for prime time, and there are undoubtedly others both on the circuit and in planning that I’m not aware of. Even so, with fewer than 100 commemorative stamps having been given this kind of attention, there are still plenty of commemoratives to choose from if this form of collecting appeals to you.

There are a few exhibits I have not included here because they are totally focused on usages of the stamps and do not include the development of the stamp(s) themselves. Among these are, for example, the 1940 Famous Americans series, and the 3¢ 1946 Smithsonian issue.

Which brings me to the question of what a comprehensive exhibit contains. They start with the photo, painting or other basis for the stamp design, then come such essays as are in public hands. Next in the frames would be photo essays and publicity photos of the stamp(s) released by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and/or the Postal Service; followed by such proofs as may be in public hands. Check the Scott U.S. Specialized Catalogue to see what might exist in the way of essays and proofs for your favorite stamp(s).

Next come the first day ceremony souvenirs, which should include a program (autographed if possible), and perhaps other items such as covers or blocks of the stamps signed by dignitaries not on the formal program. Then come the issued stamps starting with an absolutely superb copy of the featured stamp, plate blocks or other memorabilia signed by the designer/modeler and the engravers involved in the production of the stamp.

Issued stamps showing the type and location of normal or exceptional marginal markings are featured next, followed by such errors and varieties as have been discovered. It can be especially difficult to find these as errors (which exist in very small quantities) are listed, but there is no central listing for varieties such as misperforations, constant plate varieties, and color misregistrations — most of which will be equally scarce — and the collector has to search high and low for whatever may exist.

Now we get to the First Day Cover cachets. It will probably be the longest section of the exhibit. Much of what exists in this category has been recorded in publications of the American First Day Cover Society, but there are often small unrecorded productions of cachets that can be found randomly in dealer stocks, other collections, and in the archives of cachet makers. And there may be, especially with older stamps, uncacheted covers from unusual sources such as U.S. Navy ships.

Finally, the exhibit will end with commercial usages of the stamp showing how it was used to pay various rates and on mail to unusual destinations. This section is often frustratingly small. Why is this?

While definitives were and are often produced in quantities of many hundreds of millions, and sometimes in billions, commemorative production figures have mostly topped out in the 150 million range up until the 29¢ era (early ‘90s, when per-stamp production dropped to under 100 million in most cases, reflecting the larger number of stamps being issued). In addition, definitives are available for years; sometimes a dozen or more. Commemoratives can sell out much earlier, but in almost every case what is still not sold after 18 months is withdrawn and destroyed.

The result is that finding usages of any given stamp beyond routine first class, in the period when the commemorative was current, requires a lot of searching, a lot of knowledge as to where to look, diligent advertising of what is being sought, and much correspondence. The good news is that when you find the covers cost is generally pretty reasonable. It isn’t affording them, it is finding them that is the challenge; made more difficult by the fact that most dealers don’t stock “modern” (which is often anything in the last 75 years!) covers, because it is low profit margin material.

So, to do a commemorative exhibit requires, usually, years of acquisition and learning about what exists to be found. The learning is not trivial as it encompasses knowledge of production, EFOs, the range of First Day cachets, and contemporary rates and possible usages. I have a couple of ongoing projects in the acquisition/learning stage, and it may be that I will never be able to come up with enough material to get to an exhibit. But the journey in that direction is much of the fun of forming a commemorative collection.

If you are working on such a collection, D.A. Lux has continued my original list and publishes it monthly. If you would like your commemorative interest(s) included on The Hotchner Commemorative List, contact D.A. at and include the Scott number and first day of issue of your stamp. Once on the list, other list members will be able to search their collections for the covers you need and will know your interests when they dig through the dollar and quarter boxes at their local stamp shows. This could be a way of helping to unearth new material to improve your collection!

Should you wish to comment on this column, or have questions or ideas you would like to have explored in a future column, please write to John Hotchner, VSC Contributor, P.O. Box 1125, Falls Church, VA 22041-0125, or email, putting “VSC” in the subject line.

Or comment right here.

Israel’s February 9, 2016 Stamps

From The Israel Philatelic Service; links go to specific pages for those issues:

isr_winterOur February stamps celebrate Winter, Israel-Greece relations, influential writers and the importance of rescuing Turtles and Dogs!

Winter is upon us and in Israel we enjoy clear crisp air, sun-filled moments, much needed rainy days and green landscape filled with flowers. Everyone is excited when snow falls in Jerusalem and on the high mountain peaks.

The Israel – Greece Joint issue features our ports Haifa and Thessaloniki. Interestingly most of the Thessaloniki dockworkers were Jewish and when they immigrated to Israel they continued their expertise and hard work in the Haifa port. Israel and Greece celebrate 25 years of diplomatic relations and have forged multidimensional partnerships in many fields.

isr_kishonAuthor, playwright, film and theater director, Ephraim Kishon is considered to be one of the greatest Israeli satirists of all time. This stamp celebrates his life and work which is enjoyed by millions around the world.

Our Pioneering Women stamp series continues this month with a writer and a poet: Nehama Pohatchevsky and Zelda. Both women have fascinating life histories and have been most influential in Israeli culture.

Let’s delve into the sea and discover the slow but sure Marine Turtles. These steady, harmless creatures are endangered due to human activity and Israel runs a national center for their rescue and rehabilitation.

isr_dogadopt1Our 2016 ATM labels pay tribute to man’s best friend and the importance of adopting rescue dogs. The first label introducing the Dog Adoption in Israel series features a beautiful silhouette picture showing the love between humans and dogs.

Willy from Southern Israel is pictured on February’s label. He’s just waiting for you to throw him the ball!

Dog Adoption ATM Labels (Israel 2016)

From The Israel Philatelic Service; links go to specific pages for those issues:

isr_dogadopt2Our 2016 ATM labels pay tribute to man’s best friend and the importance of adopting rescue dogs. The first label introducing the Dog Adoption in Israel series [issued January 1st and shown below]  features a beautiful silhouette picture showing the love between humans and dogs.

Willy from Southern Israel is pictured on February’s label. He’s just waiting for you to throw him the ball!

The issue date is February 9, 2016.

The first label in the series: isr_dogadopt1

Israel–Greece Joint Issue – 25 Years of Diplomatic Relations (Israel 2016)

Haifa and Thessaloniki Ports
isr_greeceThe issue date is February 9, 2016.

This year, 2015, marks the 25th anniversary of full diplomatic relations between Israel and Greece. Both are modern democratic states, Mediterranean neighbors, with common values representing the proud independence of two ancient nations. The two countries have forged a multidimensional partnership with wide-ranging cooperation in all fields reflecting our peoples’ shared history, close cultural ties and common interests. This historic commemorative stamp symbolizes the close friendship between Israel and Greece as they strive to build a better future, working together to promote the progress and prosperity of our nations and our region.

— Irit Ben Abba
Israeli Ambassador to Greece

The Jews of Thessaloniki stood facing the sea, while other Jewish communities throughout the Diaspora and in Eretz Israel lived with their backs to it.

Yitzhak Ben Zvi, one of the forefathers of the Zionist movement and later President of Israel, visited Thessaloniki in 1914 and was amazed by the Jewish command of the port: “On the eve of the Sabbath, even before sunset, all transport halts at the port. At once, all the Jewish sailors fill the port with their rowboats, dinghies and ships, all sailing to shore… Sabbath!”

Due to the deep economic ties between Thessaloniki and the sea, which reflected the Jewish power on the docks and beyond, the “pearl of the Aegean” became known as “Jerusalem of the Balkans”, in other words – like a city in Israel whose Jewish residents were linked to nature and to physical labor.

The “Jewish muscle” exhibited on the docks of Thessaloniki led the Zionist leadership to include the Thessalonikians in the conquest of the sea in Eretz Israel. Between 1933 and1935 hundreds of Jewish dockworkers from Thessaloniki immigrated to Eretz Israel and helped to realize the national vision of Hebrew labor with their own hands in the key sea ports of Haifa and Jaffa. The routine daily work on the docks was both tedious and dangerous. During the Arab strike that broke out in 1936, Arab workers failed in their attempts to lock the gates of the Haifa and Jaffa ports. Haifa Port remained open thanks to the Thessalonikian dockworkers who continued to come to work despite the atmosphere of terror, and in Tel Aviv the Thessalonikians built the first Hebrew port, as an alternative to the striking Jaffa port. These heroic actions destroyed the Arab blockade of the transfer of goods, passengers and immigrants through the ports of Eretz Israel and garnered the Thessalonikians a place in the national pantheon for their key role in the realization of the Zionist vision during the period of the Jewish Yishuv as it moved toward statehood.

— Dr. Shai Srougo
Researcher of Jewish Communities of the Mediterranean Region
Lecturer, Department of Jewish History, Haifa University

Description of the stamp
The stamp features Haifa Port as represented by a typical freighter and cranes, with the Baha’i Gardens on the slopes of Mt. Carmel in the background; and the Port of Thessaloniki as represented by a typical cruise ship and cranes, with the ancient white tower on the beach in the background.

The stamp tab features the 25 Years of Diplomatic Relations between Israel and Greece logo, designed by graphic artist and illustrator Kelly Matathia Covo.

Turtles in the Marine Environment (Israel 2016)

isr_turtlesMarine Turtles are the largest reptiles in Israel. They live mostly in the sea, but the females come ashore on summer nights to lay dozens of eggs in cavities they dig in the sand. The offspring hatch in about two months.

In some turtle species, the offspring’s gender is determined by the temperature in the nest. In the 1920’s and 1930’s sea turtle populations suffered greatly, with some 2000 green turtles being hunted each year along Israel’s coast. Despite that, in the 1950’s 15 nests per kilometer were reported on Israel’s northern beaches. The fact that in 2011 only one nest per kilometer was found on average in those areas highlights the sharp decline in the marine turtle populations, despite conservation efforts and legal protections.

Marine Turtles are endangered for various reasons: adults are injured by ship propellers, by ingesting waste and plastic bags, by fishing nets and hooks; nests are harmed by vehicles driving on the beaches, by human activity on the beaches at night and by animal predators; reduced numbers of beach sites available for nesting and artificial lighting along the beaches deters females from laying their eggs, as well as causing the offspring to lose their innate sense of direction, which guides them to the sea upon hatching.

Israel Nature and Parks Authority rangers and volunteers operate a national center that rescues and rehabilitates injured marine turtles. They also work to protect nests and when necessary, transfer eggs to protected incubation farms. The general public assists the Authority by reporting sightings of egg laying and injured turtles. (For urgent reports regarding injured turtles call: *6911).

Hawksbill Turtle Eretmochelys imbricate
The Hawksbill Turtle is the smallest of the marine turtles and is considered to be the most beautiful, thanks to the brown, black and yellow scutes tiled on its shell. This species is endangered mainly due to hunting in Southeast Asia. The turtle’s narrow head allows it to extract prey from among the coral. The Hawksbill Turtle occasionally frequents the Gulf of Eilat. The background of the stamp features the seabed and sea creatures typical to the Gulf of Eilat. The stamp tab features a schematic sketch of the Hawksbill Turtle’s scutes and scales, and clearly shows its narrow head.

Green Turtle Chelonia mydas
The Green Turtle is the only marine turtle that is mainly herbivorous in adulthood. Only 15 nests on average belonging to this species are found along Israel’s beaches. However, 63 of the 192 turtles, dead or injured, that wash onto the shore on average each year are Green Turtles.

The stamp features the underbelly of the Green Turtle, with the surface of the sea as seen from underwater shown in the background. The stamp tab features the scutes and scales of the Green Turtle’s back shell.

Loggerhead Turtle Caretta caretta
The Loggerhead Turtle is the most prevalent marine turtle in the Mediterranean Sea and it lays the largest numbers of eggs along Israel’s beaches (some 135 nests per year in recent years). It is mostly carnivorous, eating jellyfish, fish and crabs.

The stamp features the Loggerhead Turtle near the sandy seabed, with barnacles clearly shown attached to its shell. The stamp tab features the unique scutes and scales pattern that differentiates this species from the Green Turtle, clearly showing the fifth scute in rows along the sides.

Leatherback Turtle Dermochelys coriacea
The Leatherback Turtle is the largest and heaviest turtle species in the world, measuring up to 3 meters in length and weighing up to 930 kgs. As opposed to other marine turtles, its shell is covered with hard skin rather than scutes. The Leatherback Turtle migrates great distances across the oceans, swims faster than all other marine turtles (up to 35 km/h) and can dive to a depth of 1280 meters. This species feeds mainly on jellyfish and only rarely appears along Israel’s shores, in the Mediterranean Sea and the Gulf of Eilat. The background of the stamp features jellyfish, which are the Leatherback Turtle’s main food source. The ridges on the turtle’s back are prominent. The stamp tab highlights this species’ hydrodynamic body.

—Prof. Amos Bouskila
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Description of the First Day Cover
A marine turtle hatching from an egg is in the foreground.

A newly hatched turtle making its way toward the sea, leaving typical tracks in the sand, is featured in the background.

Seasons in Israel – Winter (Israel 2016)

The issue date is February 9, 2016.

Our calendar consists of twelve months – the amount of time it takes the Earth to complete one full cycle around the Sun.

The 365 days of the year are divided into four different seasons, each of which complements another: winter and summer, spring and autumn. Each season is characterized by its own typical weather, changes in the animals and plants and by its designated songs. Every season creates a certain type of atmosphere. In Israel the transitional seasons – autumn and spring – are short and often bring surprising weather changes.

isr_winter“The chill of morning, the shriek of the crow, awakened me. And I know not why holiday joy suddenly came upon me” wrote poet Haim Nachman Bialik (from Songs of Winter).

Winter is the coldest season, and it brings the rain. Each year we wait and hope for abundant winter rains and look forward to using our warm blankets, boots, umbrellas and coats. “Come rain!” sang the IDF Nachal entertainment troupe, lyrics by Tirza Atar and melody by Alona Turel.

Snow falls in Jerusalem and on the high mountain peaks. Water gushes in the rivers and even in the previously dry riverbeds. The Israeli landscape turns from dry grey to bright green. The green orchards are dotted with orange and yellow citrus fruit.

The days grow shorter as the nights lengthen. But we still enjoy clear warm days, as opposed to countries far to the north where the sun barely shines at all during the winter months. Good visibility, clear crisp air, the “smell of rain” – and the green landscape fills with flowers: Shoshana Damari sang “Anemones, anemones, reddish red-haired anemones,graceful anemones” in the wonderful song by Natan Alterman and Moshe Wilensky.

From the theme song for the children’s television program “Carousel,” which described the seasons of the year:

“So come whirl round on the carousel
Down and up and all around,
So come whirl round on the carousel
In summer, winter, autumn and spring…”

—Leah Naor
Author, translator and poet

* All songs have been loosely translated from the original Hebrew.

Pioneering Women (Israel 2016)

Nehama Pohatchevsky, Zelda

isr_womenThe issue date is February 9, 2016.

Early signs of women’s aspirations for gender equality in Eretz Israel were apparent as far back as the First Aliyah, as some women chose to take part in public affairs or nonconventional professions. Although the pages of history have not granted them their proper place – they operated in a world of preconceptions and discrimination against women, their fight for self-realization and equal opportunity cleared a path and inspired others.

The State of Israel embraced equality as a core principle early on, and just three years after the establishment of the State the Knesset passed the Women’s Equal Rights Law of 1951, guaranteeing equal treatment of women and men.

Women have yet to be fully included in society’s most influential bodies, but the efforts of these pioneering women set a quiet social revolution in motion, furthering gender equality and changing our society.

Nehama Pohatchevsky
1869, Brest, White Russia – 1934, Rishon LeZion, Israel
Author Nehama Pohatchevsky, known as Nefesh (“soul” in Hebrew, based on her maiden name, Nehama Feinstein) wrote articles in Hebrew as a youth in Russia and corresponded with poet and scholar Yehuda Leib Gordon (Yalag,Y.L.G). Her desire to immigrate to Eretz Israel was realized in 1889, following her marriage to Michel Pohatchevsky of Rishon LeZion.

Writing was in her blood. Nehama Pohatchevsky wrote about the lives of the pioneers and about building the national Jewish homeland in Eretz Israel, focusing on the struggles of the “new woman” in the newly developing Jewish community in the ancient homeland and her position in the family and in society. Thus she is known as the first female Hebrew author of Eretz Israel.

Life in the agricultural community was difficult during the First Aliyah and she worked hard raising her children, on the family farm and in the community. Although her two eldest sons passed away in infancy, she raised her son and daughter Asahel and Efrat. Nefesh was a pioneer and a woman ahead of her time. While working as a farmer and an author, she was also a public activist who fought for Hebrew labor and for instilling the Hebrew language, and also promoted equal rights and voting rights for women. She founded and was active in the Bikur Cholim Association, served as a mediator in the Rishon LeZion Magistrates Court, assisted new immigrants from Yemen and was a member of the Moshava Committee and the National Committee. She published articles and stories. Her collections of stories BeYehuda HaHadasha (In the New Yehuda) (1911) and BaKfar UbaAvoda (In the Village and at Work) (1930) were published in her lifetime, while her novel BaMidron (On the Decline) was published 70 years after her death, in 2004.

—Dr. Ora Asahel Silverstein

1914, Ukraine – 1984, Jerusalem
Zelda Schneerson-Mishkovsky is one of the most significant and beloved Hebrew poets of our generation. Tens of thousands of copies of her collected poems from the six books published in her lifetime have been printed to date. Her poems are read and adored by an extremely broad audience: young and old, religious and secular, people from different places and from varying spiritual worlds.

Zelda was a direct descendant of the Lubavitcher Rebbes. She immigrated to Israel as an only child with her parents and grandfather in 1925. Several months later, her grandfather and father both passed away in Jerusalem. Although Zelda published poems and articles in newspapers and magazines over the years, her first collection of poems P’nai (Leisure) did not appear until 1967, when she was 53 years old. The book achieved immediate success among critics as well as a broad section of the reading public.

Thirty years after Zelda’s death in Jerusalem, her friends published a book of her unpublished writings and drawings, Tzipor Ahuzat Kesem (An Enchanted Bird). As writer and critic Dror Burstein remarked in his review of the book (Haaretz, July 2014): “These pages confirm Zelda’s place as one of the most important spiritual figures in Israeli poetry of the 1960’s and 1970’s and far beyond.”

Description of the Stamps and First Day Coversisr_womenNehama Pohatchevsky
Stamp: portrait adapted from a photo, courtesy of Ora Asahel; photo of Hacarmel St. in Rishon LeZion, 1912, photo by Leon Kahan / Rishon LeZion Museum

Tab: quote from a letter written by Nehama Pohatchevsky, from the Michel and Nehama Pohatchevsky Collection, Rishon LeZion Museum.

First Day Cover: Quote from “On the Decline”, 1920. Published by Sifrei Iton 77, 2004.

Stamp: portrait adapted from a photo by Yisrael Simionski / Israel Sun; photo of the young Zelda, 1932, from a class photo – Mizrahi Teachers College for Women.

Tab: Zelda’s poem “Everyone has a Name” in her own handwriting.

First Day Cover: quote from Zelda’s poem “Shlomi”, from the collection P’nai, Hakibbutz Hameuhad Publishing House, 1967.

With thanks to Dr. Rivka Goldberg.