New U.S. Stamps – The War of 1812: Battle of New Orleans

Today the United States Postal Service issued a new stamp, The War of 1812: Battle of New Orleans. This is a Forever stamp, currently at $0.49. The description is as follows:

The War of 1812, sometimes called “the forgotten conflict,” was a confrontation with Great Britain that brought the United States to the verge of bankruptcy and disunion. With this 2015 issuance, the U.S. Postal Service® concludes 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 subject of this final stamp is Andrew Jackson’s triumphant victory over the British on January 8, 1815, at the Battle of New Orleans. Using mixed media, stamp artist Greg Harlin, a specialist in historical paintings, depicts American troops and artillery repelling British forces from behind a mile-long defensive earthwork known as Jackson’s line.

A portrait of Andrew Jackson in his military uniform, by artist John Vanderlyn (1775-1852), appears on the reverse of the stamp sheet. A nineteenth-century depiction of the battle by Oliver Pelton appears on the front of the sheet above the selvage text. The stamp sheet also includes verso text.

The Battle of New Orleans was the most decisive victory in the war for the underdog Americans. The British suffered some 2,000 casualties as they were gunned down while trying to breach Jackson’s line. Jackson instantly became a national hero.

Ironically, the battle was fought two weeks after the Treaty of Ghent, which essentially declared the war a draw, had been signed in Belgium on December 24. But this news had not reached American shores, and the treaty would not be ratified until February 1815. Jackson’s victory, coming as it did in the final weeks of the war and before the peace treaty was ratified, left Americans with the impression they had won the war as a whole-and had defeated the greatest power in the world.

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

New U.S. Stamps – Wilt Chamberlain

Today the United States Postal Service issued a new stamp, Wilt Chamberlain. This is a Forever stamp, currently at $0.49. The description is as follows:

This year, the U.S. Postal Service® celebrates the life of basketball superstar Wilt Chamberlain (1936-1999). On the court, he was a force of nature. The 7-foot-1-inch center dominated the NBA for more than a decade, setting a plethora of individual records. As a pro, he led his teams to two NBA championships, and in 1962 he scored an NBA record 100 points in a single game.

These two Forever® stamps showcase artwork by Kadir Nelson, who created two portraits of Chamberlain. One is based on a photograph of Chamberlain in a Philadelphia Warriors uniform, the other based on an image of Chamberlain in a Los Angeles Lakers uniform. The word “Wilt” is featured in the top right or left corner of each stamp, along with the “Forever” denomination and “USA” in the bottom right or left corner of each stamp.

“Wilt Chamberlain (1936-1999)” appears on the left side of the pane. Photographer Ken Regan’s image of a leaping Chamberlain in a Philadelphia 76ers uniform is featured on the right side of the pane. The flip side of the pane features biographical information about Chamberlain.

New Holiday Stamps

The United States Postal Service has issued new stamps for the holiday season while keeping many of the wonderful stamps from previous years. The two newest holiday stamps are Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Christmas Magi.

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer was issued on November 6, 2014 and is a Forever Stamp, currently at $0.49. The description is as follows:

On the evening of December 6, 1964, families sat down to watch a new TV show for the first time: an animated special called Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. It featured the voice of Burl Ives as Sam, a singing snowman, who narrates the tale of a misfit reindeer who finds his own special way to shine. The hour-long show went on to become not only the longest-running and highest-rated Christmas special in TV history, but also a beloved holiday tradition.

Rudolph and his friends now bring their own brand of joy and nostalgia to four holiday stamps. The stamp artwork features still frames from the special, which was produced by Rankin/Bass using stop-motion animation. In this type of production, moveable models are photographed against backgrounds, giving the images their distinctive look. Rudolph, Santa, and the Abominable Snow Monster all star on stamps of their own, while a fourth stamp features Hermey, the elf who dreams of becoming a dentist, touching Rudolph’s glowing red nose.

In order to create the special, new characters (including the Abominable Snow Monster and Hermey) were added to those featured in the poem written by Robert L. May and the song written by Johnny Marks.

In addition to the Rudolph song, the special also contains five of composer Johnny Marks’s previous songs and seven new songs that include “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” “Silver and Gold,” “Jingle, Jingle, Jingle,” “The Most Wonderful Day of the Year,” “There’s Always Tomorrow” and “We’re a Couple of Misfits.”

And as for Rudolph, the star of the show? As the millions of fans of the classic animated special know, he went down in history!

The other new holiday stamp is Christmas Magi. It was issued on November 19, 2014 and is also a Forever Stamp, currently at $0.49. The description is as follows:

The U.S. Postal Service® celebrates one of the most beloved stories of the Nativity with an evocative and elegant new stamp, Christmas Magi.

The stamp art illustrates the traditional tale of the Magi, who came bearing gifts for Jesus. The three regal figures sit atop a trio of bedecked and harnessed camels, the animals almost at the summit of a small hill. Guiding them is a large, dazzling star shining in the sky. The colors in the sky range from a rose near the horizon, darkening to a rich purple at the top, suggesting that the travelers are moving through the desert at dawn. The figures are silhouetted against the background, with the details of their headdresses and the camels’ saddles just visible in the brightening light. The star, located in the upper left-hand corner of the picture, is a brilliant white.

The story of the Magi appears in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 2. There is little detail about the Magi in the Gospel. Matthew called them “Magi,” a term for Persian priests, astrologers, or scholars. The Gospel never refers to a specific number; the number three was likely influenced by the number of gifts left for the child-gold, frankincense, and myrrh. However, the earliest traditions are inconsistent with regard to how many Magi there were. The Eastern tradition favored twelve Magi, while in the West, several early Church fathers accepted the number three.

Over the centuries other details have been added to the story, including the names of the Magi: Gaspar, or Casper; Melchior; and Balthasar. One early reference to their names comes in a seventh century work attributed to St. Bede. He gave the Magi the attributes of men at different stages of life, elderly, young, and middle-aged: Melchior, an old man with white hair and a long beard; Caspar, young and beardless with a ruddy complexion; and Balthasar, with black skin and a heavy beard. Later traditions added the notion that the three came from Europe, Asia, and Africa, thus completing their symbolism as representatives of the world as it was known to Europeans at the time.

Represented in art and music since the earliest centuries of the church, the Magi are a much-loved part of the Christmas tradition. The story is retold many times each season in hymns and in Christmas pageants and performances.

These along with other holiday stamps are available now at your local United States Postal Service or usps.com!

New U.S. Stamps – Global Silver Bells Wreath

Today the United States Postal Service issued a new stamp, Global Silver Bells Wreath. This is an International Forever stamp, currently at $1.15. The description is as follows:

In 2014, the U.S. Postal Service® celebrates the winter holidays internationally with a new Forever® stamp, Global Holiday: Silver Bells Wreath. This is the second issuance in the Global Holiday series.

An elegant wreath of silver bells graces this round holiday stamp. The circle of densely packed bells is arranged against a deep green background, with a rich red bow anchored at the top of the wreath. The words “Forever” and “USA” and the date “2014” surround the wreath in gray type. The word “Global” is highlighted in red at the bottom of the stamp.

Wreaths can be made from plants such as eucalyptus, laurel, pine boughs, and mistletoe, or materials such as metal, glass, wood, paper, or wire. They come in almost any shape or size, and ideas for decoration are virtually limitless-silver bells, flowers, fruit, berries, ribbons, bows, glass ornaments, teddy bears, model cars, candy-anything that reflects personal style.

Whatever the shape or embellishment, wreaths express the festive spirit of the holidays, and the Global Holiday: Silver Bells Wreath stamp can add the same touch of holiday joy to your cards and letters.

Issued at the $1.15 price, this Global Forever® stamp can be used to mail a one-ounce letter to any country to which First-Class Mail International® service is available. As with all Global Forever® stamps, this stamp will have a postage value equivalent to the price of a single-piece First-Class Mail International® first ounce machinable letter in effect at the time of use. To distinguish this stamp from other Forever® stamps, the shape of the international stamp is round and bears the words “Global Forever.”

Art director William J. Gicker and Michael Owens designed the stamp. Sally Andersen-Bruce photographed the wreath, which was constructed by Michael Owens. Angelica Dennis created the bow.

New U.S. Stamps – Winter Fun

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

Winter days can be a wonderful time to appreciate the great outdoors with friends and loved ones. Drawing on nostalgic images of snowy childhoods, the Winter Fun stamps can be used not only to convey the joyful spirit of the holiday season and the new year, but also to send cheerful greetings for any occasion all winter long. Each stamp is sure to add a welcome splash of warmth to letters and cards during the year’s coldest months.

With four playful designs, Winter Fun celebrates some of the season’s most enjoyable activities: ice-skating, making snow angels, building snowmen, and bird-watching. The art for the ice-skaters design was painted with acrylic on plywood with a dry brush technique to give the illustration a textured, folk-art feel. The other three were all hand-sketched and then digitally manipulated.

Art director Ethel Kessler designed the stamps using existing illustrations by Janet Atkinson, Jing Jing Tsong, and Christine Roy.

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.

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.