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.

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.

Niagara Falls

There are a few postcards that I have sent that have become “popular” on Postcrossing, gaining favorites by other members. I previously wrote about my Born Free Ohio postcard that was at the time my most popular with three favorites. Well, I have surpassed that with a whopping (at the time of this writing) NINE favorites! Here is the beauty:

I have to admit that this is a gorgeous postcard! I sent it to Reona in Japan. She thought it was a wonderful postcard and also appreciated the stamps I used. For this postcard, I used a combination of a few stamps to reach the postage amount for international mail. Here they are from the USPS website:

I like mixing stamps of different denominations rather than the international forever stamp. It’s large and obnoxious, and I feel like it’s boring. Plus, it’s a circle! Circles just don’t fit well on postcards.

Well anyway, I’m glad Reona enjoyed this postcard and the stamps I chose for it! I am always glad when the card I pick out works well for the recipient!!

Postcards primarily sent via Postcrossing, an online community that allows people from all over the world to send and receive postcards.

New U.S. Stamps – The Civil War: 1864

Today the United States Postal Service issued a new stamp collection, The Civil War: 1864. These are Forever stamps, currently at 49 cents. The description is as follows from their website:

The Civil War (1861-1865), the most wrenching chapter in American history, claimed the lives of more than 620,000 soldiers and brought vast changes to the country. The Postal Service™ continues its commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the war by issuing a souvenir sheet of two stamp designs for 2014.

One stamp depicts the 22nd United States Colored Troops engaged in the June 15-18, 1864, assault on Petersburg, Virginia, at the beginning of the Petersburg Campaign. The other stamp depicts Admiral David G. Farragut’s fleet at the Battle of Mobile Bay (Alabama) on August 5, 1864.

Art director Phil Jordan created the stamps using iconic images of the battles. The Petersburg Campaign stamp is a reproduction of a painting, dated 1892, by J. Andr_ Castaigne (painting courtesy of the West Point Museum, United States Military Academy, West Point, New York). The Battle of Mobile Bay stamp is a reproduction of a painting by Julian Oliver Davidson, published ca. 1886 by Louis Prang & Co.

For the background image on the souvenir sheet, Jordan used a photograph of Battery A, 2nd U.S. Colored Artillery (Light), Department of the Cumberland, 1864 (photograph courtesy of the Chicago History Museum, ICHi-07774).

The souvenir sheet includes comments on the war by Ulysses S. Grant, Jeremiah Tate, Harrie Webster, and Howell Cobb. It also includes some of the lyrics from the Negro spiritual “O Mary, Don’t You Weep.”