New U.S. Stamps – Patriotic Waves

Today the United States Postal Service issued a new stamp, Patriotic Waves. This is a special $1 denomination stamp. The description is as follows:

$1 Patriotic Wave features red and blue intersecting lines on a white background in an abstract pattern reminiscent of billowing flags. A portion on the lower right side of the stamp provides white space to display the numeral 1 in red. This unique design lends a patriotic appearance to packages, envelopes, and other mailings.

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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 – 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 – 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.

New U.S. Stamps – Farmers Markets

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

Fruits, vegetables, cheeses, flowers, and other fresh products invitingly displayed on tables or bins — farmers markets invite us to share America’s agricultural bounty.

Four se-tenant stamps depict a table laden with typical farmers-market fare. The stamp on the far left has among its products various fresh breads such as baguettes and rolls, cinnamon buns, cookies, artisan cheeses, and both brown and white eggs. The produce on the second stamp includes vegetables and fruits: apples, eggplants, watermelons, peppers, grapes, potatoes, broccoli, and gourds. Cut flowers adorn the next stamp, with bouquets of bright flowers next to a bucket of sunflowers and a collection of celosia. The final stamp on the far right features live plants, with various herbs, tomatoes, and flowers like marigolds and nasturtiums. Most items bear handwritten labels that identify the product and its price.

The artist chose and arranged the products so that each stamp has a large focal point; each stamp is complete in itself yet forms a cohesive whole with the entire stamp strip. The stamp art was created using acrylic paint.

Text on the back of the 20-stamp sheet describes the appeal of farmers markets.

Farmers markets are an old idea that’s new again. Markets were once the main way Americans shopped. As towns and cities grew in the 19th century, farms were pushed farther from the population hubs, and new distribution systems and permanent in-town shops increasingly became the middlemen between consumers and farmers. However, in 1976 Congress passed the Farmer-to-Consumer Direct Marketing Act, and the number of markets has soared once more.

Farmers markets flourish in every U.S. state and territory. Some markets thrive in permanent locations that operate year round; others are open only once a week during the harvest season. There are markets that sell just produce and meats; others also offer seafood, breads, prepared foods, or dairy products. Markets might include locally sourced honey or artisan crafts like soaps and candles. Live plants or cut flowers brighten many markets, and some markets feature live music or children’s activities, voter-registration drives, or local master gardeners offering advice. There are almost as many different combinations of goods and activities as there are markets.

Considered by many to be the new town square, farmers markets offer, as they did in the past, a gathering place for diverse groups of neighbors to meet and mingle and to share news, recipes, and stories—in short, to create a new sense of community.

Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamps with illustrations by Robin Moline.

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.”