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May 1997 New Issues

May 1997 is an incredible month for new issues: The annual international stamp exhibition is in the U.S. this year -- PACIFIC 97 in San Francisco. "The International" only comes to the U.S. once a decade, and this is the first time it's been held on the West Coast.

The U.S. is rolling out the red carpet with 4 new issues, two of them this month (the show runs May 29-June 8).

Dinosaurs However, red carpets don't begin and end at the front door, and neither does the list of special U.S. stamps this month. May began with "World of Dinosaurs," a sheet of 15 stamps showing two eras when dinosaurs roamed North America. They were designed by Dinotopia author/illustrator James Gurney, who was interviewed for the Stamps, Coins and Postal Forum. Click the image for a hi-res view.

The U.S. continues to honor American colleges and universities by issuing Historic Preservation postal cards featuring a key building on campus. This month, it's the City College of New York, the nation's first free municipal college.

Kids throughout the world (and not a few adults) are eagerly awaiting Bugs Bunny delivering their mail (May 22). The sheet of 10 stamps includes a collectible card, too. He's the first of a dozen or so Looney Tunes characters who will grace U.S. stamps in the coming years.

Washington Then, at Pacific 97, the U.S. Postal Service notes the 150th anniversary of U.S. postage stamps with two souvenir sheets featuring the first two U.S. stamps, the 1847 Benjamin Franklin and George Washington issues. The first time around, Ben and George were 5c and 10c, respectively. This time, they're 50c and 60c, to pay international rates. Click the image for a hi-res view.

These two souvenir sheets of 12 stamps each will be available only through the end of the show, June 8. Then, the Postal Service promises to destroying any remaining, and Pacific 97 says there will be a "Last Day of Issue" ceremony to mark that.

However, two days before, there will be ANOTHER "LDOI" ceremony for stamps not yet identified. The first Last Day ceremony was held this past March at the Mega-Event in New York.

Earth Summit Also at Pacific 97, the United Nations issues "Earth Summit + 5". Each comes in both sheets of 24 and souvenir sheets, plus maximum cards. The US-denominated souvenir sheet will be overprinted to commemorate the PACIFIC 97. The UN's 1997 Endangered Species Annual Collection folder will also be available on the second day of the show.

Canada honors the Victorian Order of Nurses of Canada (May 12), visiting nurses who provide health care in isolated and developing areas. Today, there are 75 VON branches, with 6,000 staff and over 8,000 volunteers.

At Pacific 97, it adds its Ocean Fish series (May 30). The day before at the exhibition, Palau & Micronesia, two Republics in the Pacific that were once protectorates of the United States, release "Goddesses of the Pacific."

Also there, Israeli issues a souvenir sheet highlighting the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Cario Geniza and a Pacific 97 Showcard marking the sister cities San Francisco and Haifa.

Speaking of sister cities, Germany this month is issuing four stamps, one of which commemorates "town twinnings" or the sister cities program, as we'd say in the U.S. Another marks the 50th anniversary of Black Forest preservation efforts, and, as part of the 1997 Europa stamp program, there will be two stamps with legends: "The Fisherman and His Wife" and "Rübezahl," the haunting demon of the Riesengebirge (Giant Mountains).

Jeunes France issues a stamp this month to mark a major stamp show, PhilexJeunes 97. The design is the winner of a competition among 1,350 young collectors, ages 12 to 18. Also from France this month: cartoon-like letter-writing stamps, commemoration of the French soldiers in North Africa during World War II, and another stamp show, the 70th Congress of the French Union of Philatelic Associations. That one's a semi-postal, with three francs for mailing and one donated to the Union.

Sweden and China are teaming up for a joint issue featuring pheasants, each country issuing two stamps. It's the first time China has allowed another country to engrave a Chinese stamp; the work is by the famous Czeslaw Slania, Sweden's court engraver, who, by coincidence, no doubt, will be at Sweden Post's booth at Pacific 97 for the entire show.

Many of these stamps will be available at the issuing countries' booths at the exhibition.

Of course, other countries are issuing stamps in May, but not all give us advance notice. Keep an eye on our Forum for the latest news.

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