New U.S. Stamps – Purple Heart 2014

Today the United States Postal Service issued a new stamp, Purple Heart 2014. This is a Forever stamp, currently at 49 cents. The description is as follows:

The U.S. Postal Service continues to honor the sacrifices of the men and women who serve in the U.S. military with the issuance of the Purple Heart Medal stamp that depicts the medal suspended from its purple and white ribbon.

The Purple Heart is awarded in the name of the President of the United States to members of the U.S. military who have been wounded or killed in action. According to the Military Order of the Purple Heart, an organization for combat-wounded veterans, the medal is “the oldest military decoration in the world in present use and the first award made available to a common soldier.”

Established by General George Washington during the Revolutionary War, the badge of distinction for meritorious action – a heart made of purple cloth – was discontinued after the war. In 1932, on the 200th anniversary of Washington’s birth, the decoration was reinstated and redesigned as a purple heart of metal bordered by gold, suspended from a purple and white ribbon. In the center of the medal is a profile bust of George Washington beneath his family coat of arms.

The Purple Heart Medal stamp, first issued in 2012, is a redesign of the Purple Heart with Ribbon stamp. Ira Wexler photographed the medal. Art director Jennifer Arnold designed the stamp.

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Happy World Post Day!!!

Today is World Post Day! The holiday is celebrated worldwide and meant to honor the founding of the Universal Postal Union which had its start in 1874 in Bern, Switzerland! This day, October 9, was declared an official holiday in 1969 at the Universal Postal Union Congress in Tokyo, Japan.

The holiday is meant to do more than merely celebrate the beginnings of the worldwide postal system; it is a day to raise awareness of the fading industry. While more and more people use electronic means of correspondence, it is nice to take a day to remember another way of doing things! This day is meant to also remind us what our great postal workers do and all the hard work they put into delivering our mail.

Around the world, this day is met with celebrations including festivals, issuing new products or services, activities to engage the community, exhibitions, conferences, seminars, and more! In many countries, postal workers are honored on this day with rewards.

Did your country have a celebration for World Post Day? Let me know in the comments!

New U.S. Stamps – Batman

Today the United States Postal Service issued a new stamp, Batman. I don’t believe this is in celebration of World Post Day, but it is an awesome stamp, nonetheless! This is a Forever stamp, currently at 49 cents. The description is as follows:

For 75 years, Batman has protected Gotham City from the forces of evil. Since his debut, he has become one of the most iconic super heroes in history. This year, the U.S. Postal Service® chronicles the evolution of the character, from his origins to present day.

This new issuance showcases eight unique designs in a sheet of 20 stamps. Four versions of the iconic DC Comics super hero are depicted from four eras of comic book history. In addition, there are four incarnations of the Bat-Signal.

The first row of stamps features Batman with his fists clenched. This muscular, determined Caped Crusader has spent the Modern Age of Comics defending Gotham City from its most notorious villains.
The second row of stamps displays Batman dramatically staring up at the Bat-Signal. By the Bronze Age of Comics, artists had encased the super hero’s spare black bat emblem with a yellow oval. The insignia became the crime fighter’s trademark.

The third row of stamps shows Batman swooping into the frame with his cape flying behind him. The image, from the Silver Age of Comics, accentuates the super hero’s signature glowing white eyes and utility belt.
The bottom row of stamps highlights Batman as first envisioned by creator Bob Kane during the Golden Age of Comics. The super hero’s black cape and cowl and gray suit formed his iconic visual identity.

A column on the left side of the sheet includes four different circular stamps. Each is affixed with a different Bat-Signal, the spotlight Gotham City Police Commissioner James Gordon sent into the night sky to summon Batman.

The background illustration features a silhouette of Batman standing on a bridge with the skyline of Gotham City looming above him. The flip side of the sheet features two illustrations of Batman and text about the history of the character.

Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamp sheet.

New U.S. Stamps – 2014 Breast Cancer Research

Today the United States Postal Service issued a new stamp, 2014 Breast Cancer Research. This is a Forever Semipostal stamp, currently at 60 cents. The description is as follows:

The Breast Cancer Research semipostal stamp, originally issued in 1998, is being reissued in 2014. Mandated by Congress in 1997 and signed into law by President Bill Clinton, the 1998 Breast Cancer Research stamp was the first semipostal issued by the U.S. Postal Service®. Semipostals are stamps sold at a surcharge to raise money for a particular cause. Purchase of this stamp supports the Breast Cancer Research work of the National Institutes of Health and the Medical Research Program of the Department of Defense.

The stamp art depicts a woman standing with her right arm raised, reaching behind her head in the position recommended for breast self-examination. The drawing of the woman’s body is set against a background of pastel colors ranging from yellow to violet that cover the entire face of the stamp. Across the top of the stamp are the words “Breast Cancer.” Circling the figure’s right breast are the phrases, in all caps, “FUND THE FIGHT.” and “FIND A CURE.”

Art director Ethel Kessler, herself a breast cancer survivor, faced a challenge in designing the stamp. She wanted a design that brought awareness to the importance of Breast Cancer Research while offering a positive and uplifting image. After working with variations on the theme of pink ribbons-the symbol of breast cancer awareness-and photographs that struck her as too melancholy, Kessler turned to artist Whitney Sherman for other ideas.

Sherman produced many sketches, but one stood out from the others. A woman stands with her right arm raised, reaching behind her head in the position recommended for breast self-examination. The pose reminded the artist of depictions of the ancient Greek goddess of the hunt, Artemis (Diana to the Romans), reaching back to pull an arrow from the quiver hanging from her shoulder. The archetype represented by Artemis signifies strength, courage, survival, and hope, all the emotions that the art director and artist hoped to capture in the stamp art.

New U.S. Stamps – Celebrity Chefs

Today the United States Postal Service issued a new stamp collection, Celebrity Chefs. The stamps in this collection are Forever stamps, currently at 49 cents. The description is as follows:

The five chefs honored on these stamps 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. As they shared their know-how, they encouraged us to undertake our own culinary adventures.

These stamps feature digital illustrations depicting the five chefs in a style meant to resemble oil paintings. The selvage design is intended to represent a white china plate resting on a fine linen tablecloth.

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, and his popular books covered everything from seafood to bread.

Jason Seiler created the art for this issuance. Art director Greg Breeding was the designer.

New U.S. Stamps – The War of 1812: Fort McHenry

Today the United States Postal Service issued a new stamp, The War of 1812: Fort McHenry. This is a Forever stamp, currently at 49 cents. The description is as follows:

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 The War of 1812: Fort McHenry Forever® stamp 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.

New U.S. Stamps – Hudson River School

Today the United States Postal Service issued a new stamp collection, Hudson River School. These are Forever stamps, currently at 49 cents. The description is as follows:

During the 19th century, the artists of a young America searched for a new way of viewing the world and found it in the very landscapes around them. Inspired by the stunning natural beauty of New York state, 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.

This 12th issuance in the American Treasures series features details of paintings by four renowned Hudson River School artists. The paintings on these stamps are: Distant View of Niagara Falls (1830) by Thomas Cole, from the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago; Summer Afternoon(1865) by Asher B. Durand, from the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Sunset (1856) by Frederic Edwin Church, from the collection of the Munson-Williams-Proctor Art Institute; and Grand Canyon (1912) by Thomas Moran, from the collection of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.