Total Eclipse (U.S. 2017)

Updated May 12th:
On June 20, 2017, in Laramie, WY, the U.S. Postal Service® will issue the Total Eclipse of the Sun stamp (Forever® priced at 49 cents), in one design, in a pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA) pane of 16 stamps (Item 475300). The $7.84 Total Eclipse of the Sun pane of 16 stamps may not be split, and the stamps may not be sold individually. The stamps will go on sale nationwide June 20, 2017.

On August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will be visible to millions of Americans as it sweeps a narrow path across parts of the entire country. The U.S. Postal Service anticipates this rare event with a stamp celebrating the majesty of total solar eclipses. A total eclipse of the Sun occurs when the Moon completely blocks the visible solar disk from view, casting a shadow on the Earth. The image on the Total Eclipse of the Sun stamp shows a total solar eclipse that was seen over Jalu, Libya, in 2006.

The Total Eclipse of the Sun stamp is the first U.S. stamp to use thermochromic ink, which reacts to the heat of your touch. Placing your finger over the black disc on the stamp causes the ink to change from black to clear to reveal an underlying image of the moon. The image reverts back to the black disc once it cools. The back of the stamp pane shows a map of the eclipse path. Art director Antonio Alcalá designed the stamp with existing photographs taken by astrophysicist Fred Espenak.

Stamp Fulfillment Services will make an automatic push distribution to Post Offices™ of a quantity to cover approximately 30 days of sales.

Special Dedication Postmarks:
Only the following pictorial postmark is permitted for the Total Eclipse of the Sun stamp. The word “Station” or the abbreviation “STA” is required somewhere in the design, because it will be a temporary station.

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, or by calling 800-782-6724. They must affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes (to themselves or others), and place them in a larger envelope addressed to:

FDOI – Total Eclipse of the Sun Stamp
USPS Stamp Fulfillment Services
8300 NE Underground Drive, Suite 300
Kansas City, MO 64144-9900

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 20, 2017.

Philatelic products for this stamp issue are as follows:

  • 475306 Press Sheet with Die-cut, $62.72
  • 475310 Digital Color Postmark Keepsake, $9.95
  • 475316 First-Day Cover, $0.93
  • 475321 Digital Color Postmark, $1.64
  • 475329, Protective Sleeve, $0.25
  • 475330 Ceremony Program, $6.95
  • 475333 American Commemorative Collectible Panel, $10.95

Technical Specifications are not yet available.

April 27th:

According to a USPS spokesman, this “cool” “first of its kind” issue is a “Forever Stamp that turns into TWO images from the heat of your finger!” The stamp will be issued June 20

[press release]
Total Eclipse of the Sun to be commemorated on a Forever Stamp
One Stamp: Two Images

WASHINGTON — The Postal Service will soon release [June 20] a first-of-its-kind stamp that changes when you touch it. The Total Solar Eclipse Forever stamp, which commemorates the August 21 eclipse, transforms into an image of the Moon from the heat of a finger. The public is asked to share the news on social media using the hashtag #EclipseStamps.

Tens of millions of people in the United States hope to view this rare event, which has not been seen on the U.S. mainland since 1979. The eclipse will travel a narrow path across the entire country for the first time since 1918. The path will run west to east from Oregon to South Carolina and will include portions of 14 states.

The June 20, 1:30 p.m. MT First-Day-of-Issue ceremony will take place at the Art Museum of the University of Wyoming (UW) in Laramie. The University is celebrating the summer solstice on June 20. Prior to the event, visitors are encouraged to arrive at 11:30 a.m. to witness a unique architectural feature where a single beam of sunlight shines on a silver dollar embedded in the floor, which occurs at noon on the summer solstice in the UW Art Museum’s Rotunda Gallery. The back of the stamp pane provides a map of the August 21 eclipse path and times it may appear in some locations. Visit NASA’s website to view detailed maps of the eclipse’s path.

Thermochromic Ink
The stamp image is a photograph taken by astrophysicist Fred Espenak, aka Mr. Eclipse, of Portal, AZ, that shows a total solar eclipse seen from Jalu, Libya, on March 29, 2006.

In the first U.S. stamp application of thermochromic ink, the Total Solar Eclipse stamps will reveal a second image. Using the body heat of your thumb or fingers and rubbing the eclipse image will reveal an underlying image of the Moon (Espenak also took the photograph of the Full Moon). The image reverts back to the eclipse once it cools.

Thermochromic inks are vulnerable to UV light and should be kept out of direct sunlight as much as possible to preserve this special effect. To help ensure longevity, the Postal Service will be offering a special envelope to hold and protect the stamp pane for a nominal fee.

A total eclipse of the Sun occurs when the Moon completely blocks the visible solar disk from view, casting a shadow on Earth. The 70-mile-wide shadow path of the eclipse, known as the “path of totality,” will traverse the country diagonally, appearing first in Oregon (mid-morning local time) and exiting some 2,500 miles east and 90 minutes later off the coast of South Carolina (mid-afternoon local time).

A total solar eclipse provides us with the only chance to see the Sun’s corona — its extended outer atmosphere — without specialized instruments. During the total phase of an eclipse the corona appears as a gossamer white halo around the black disk of the Moon, resembling the petals of a flower reaching out into space.

Art director Antonio Alcalá of Alexandria, VA, designed the stamp.

The Total Eclipse of the Sun stamp is being issued as a Forever stamp, which is always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail 1-ounce price.

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

4 thoughts on “Total Eclipse (U.S. 2017)

  1. OK: Susceptible to UV light, a protective envelope will be provided at a nominal fee. ( How Much, what size ? ) What About the UV light(s) in the mail stream processing equipment. Don’t they use UV to find the tagging & scan for chemicals? Is the UV from the equipment less than what would cause the stamp to stop changing when you touch it & heat it up?
    Will a regular paper, or Manilla Envelope block the UV light, or do you have to wrap a regular envelope with Aluminum foil? ( Like an RF-Pulse blocking envelope that protects credit cards? )
    Are they going to send these stamps to almost all of the post offices in the Path of the Shadow?

  2. For folks in Oregon: The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde will have a special ‘Observance’ of the eclipse, from their Casino & Facilities at Spirit Mountain Lodge & Casino. Complementary Eye Protection Glasses will be provided on request,
    special areas near the Lodge/Casino will be set up outside for patrons to watch.
    The regular Buffet Breakfast & Lunch will be available. Lodge Reservations are only accepted 2 months in advance. All of the surrounding facilities are already booked. Some People have camping atop Mary’s Peak near Corvallis, to watch the Shadow Go Racing Across the Countryside. (1100 MPH ) I hope they’ll be selling the Solar Eclipse stamps.

  3. REALLY ! ? ?
    What about “solar” did the stamp designers NOT understand.
    Why, on a “Solar Eclipse” stamp, is a FULL MOON pictured?
    “Sun” is “solar;” “Moon” is “lunar”!
    I think the effect is GREAT! It’s just that the wrong heavenly body is pictured when the ‘process’ is done.
    It should be the Sun ! Especially since the process to ‘activate’ the image requires some form of HEAT!
    During a solar eclipse, it’s rare to see the Moon itself or any features on its surface. Also, the Moon has been featured on a few stamps over the last few years while the Sun hasn’t. The eclipse ‘hides’ the Sun, so by using the ‘heat’ process, it should be the Sun that comes out from behind the dark area – – – just like in a real solar eclipse!
    Or, am I missing something?

  4. From Postal Bulletin MAY 11 PG 48-49 & 54-55
    USPS#4753 ONLY FOR SALE in Panes of 16 $7.84
    #10 $9.95, #16 93c #21 $1.64
    There will be an Any City cancel, and a PIC & DCP FDoI from Laramie WY.
    The Any City is similar to the Nebraska Statehood Crane & Mississippi Statehood 6-string Banjo cancels. Probably proposed for any city in the path of the shadow.
    ( NE only had 1, and MS has only had 2 so far… ) However, with a 4-week deadline for publication, and only 6 weeks until the event…

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