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.

Advertisements

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!

What Happened to the Pony Express?

The Pony Express seems to be something of legend these days. But it was a real means of delivering mail for a short 18 months before being put out to pasture by the telegraph system.

The Pony Express was founded on April 3, 1860 to deliver mail from Missouri to California. At the time, there was no railroad out west, so it was a quick way to deliver mail and small packages via horseback.

The route was set up beginning in St. Joseph, Missouri and heading out west through Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Nevada, and California. This journey could be up to 100 miles a day for the rider. Horses were changed via relay points every 10 to 15 miles.

The first mail delivered by Pony Express took ten days to deliver. The fastest delivery was President Lincoln’s Inaugural Address which took a little under 8 days.

On October 26, 1861 the Pony Express was out of business. The transcontinental telegraph line proved to be a quicker and more efficient means of transporting messages, making the Pony Express obsolete.

 

 

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.