Flight of fancy

The Barn Swallow Stamped Envelope was unveiled in a First-Day Ceremony as part of the American Philatelic Society (APS) AmeriStamp Expo at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center on March 3, 2017.

Attending the unveiling were American Philatelic Society Executive Director Scott English, American Philatelic Society Leadership Fellow Sommer de Rudder, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official Michelle Hunt, and  Reno Manager Customer Services Karen Little.

Uncle Sam’s Hat

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The Postal Service celebrates one of our country’s most popular patriotic characters with the release of Uncle Sam’s Hat. Uncle Sam has represented the bravery and fortitude of the American spirit for more than 150 years.

The stamp features eight graphic top hats in Uncle Sam’s signature style, with red and white vertical stripes above a blue band with a white star and a gray brim. Beneath each hat is an oval shape representing a face, each in a different shade, meant to suggest the ethnic and racial diversity of the United States.

The creation of Uncle Sam as a popular icon in American culture is associated with a businessman named Sam Wilson of Troy, New York. Wilson, who was often called Uncle Sam by his devoted workers, operated a successful slaughterhouse and meatpacking business for decades. When war broke out in 1812, he signed a contract to become a supplier of canned beef and pork for the American troops stationed in New York. Stamped with U.S. by the Army to denote their provenance, his cans became known as Uncle Sam’s meat by the soldiers. Uncle Sam soon turned into a nickname for the United States. By the 1830s, the character began appearing in cartoons and advertisements.

Many artists have depicted their own versions of this important figure throughout the years. Uncle Sam’s dress and appearance have evolved since his first iteration, but certain distinguishing elements help make him instantly recognizable and timeless: a dress coat with long tails, red-and-white striped pants, white whiskers, a stoic expression, and a top hat. Looking like a wise, flinty old uncle not to be crossed in his patriotic uniform, Uncle Sam represents our nation’s values of liberty and strength.

The words ADDITIONAL OUNCE on this stamp indicate its usage value. Like a Forever stamp, this stamp will always be valid for the rate printed on it. The Uncle Sam’s Hat stamp is now available for purchase at usps.com/stamps, at 800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724), and at Post Offices nationwide.

Nebraska Statehood

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The Nebraska Statehood stamp celebrates the 150th anniversary of the state’s admission to the union on March 1, 1867. The photograph on this stamp was taken on the banks of the Platte River as sandhill cranes flew low overhead at sunset. At the onset of spring, half a million of these ancient birds return to the river during their annual migration, a spectacle unique to Nebraska. After a day spent feeding in fields nearby, they are seen here scouting for sandbars that provide nighttime roosts safe from riverbank predators.

“Nebraska” is derived from the Otoe and Omaha peoples’ phrase meaning “flat water” and “flat river.” The description originally referred to the wide, shallow river that flows eastward into the Missouri River, which serves as Nebraska’s eastern boundary. On early maps, French explorers labeled the river “Platte,” also meaning “flat.”

Territorial Nebraska was part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, the French land sale that nearly doubled U.S. territory. At the time, the territory of Nebraska included not only its present-day area but also portions of present-day Colorado, the Dakotas, Wyoming, and Montana. Enormous buffalo herds on the plains had provided generations of sustenance to the Native American Pawnee people and many other area tribes. Decades after Lewis and Clark explored the newly purchased territory, the U.S. government still considered the land virtually useless—ironic in that Nebraska is now one of the nation’s agricultural giants, particularly in the production of beef, corn, and beans. Nicknamed the Cornhusker State, the 37th state admitted to the union also ranks 37th in population with almost 1.9 million residents.

Famous Nebraskans include former President Gerald Ford, born in Omaha but raised in Michigan, and three-time presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan, a populist who helped shape the modern Democratic Party. William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody mixed fact and myth in his thrilling Wild West show; his Scout’s Rest Ranch in North Platte is a state historical park. Other celebrated Nebraskans include show business icons Fred Astaire, Henry Fonda, Marlon Brando, and Johnny Carson. Willa Cather’s novels, including O Pioneers! and My Ántonia, masterfully capture Nebraska frontier life.

The Nebraska Statehood stamp is now available for purchase at usps.com/stamps, at 800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724), and at Post Offices nationwide.

Oscar de la Renta

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As one of the world’s leading fashion designers for 50 years, Oscar de la Renta (1932-2014) created glamorous, sophisticated clothes that showcased the distinctively feminine attributes of the women who wore them. His innovative designs and close attention to detail elevated American style and brought international attention to New York as a world leader in fashion.

In 1956, 24-year-old de la Renta achieved his first success as a fashion designer. The wife of the U.S. Ambassador to Spain commissioned de la Renta to make a white debutante dress for her daughter. Later that year, she appeared on the cover of Life wearing the dress. Shortly thereafter, he began working in the Madrid atelier of legendary Spanish designer Cristobal Balenciaga. De la Renta learned how to work with complex fabric, studied proportions, perfected draping techniques, and gained an understanding of garment construction.

After later breaking into haute couture fashion in Paris, de la Renta moved to New York and began working at Elizabeth Arden in 1963. Two years later, he debuted his own collection for the first time. A rising star along Seventh Avenue, he captured the beauty and ease American women craved in their gowns and suits. He mingled just as confidently with the socialites of New York as he had in Paris and Madrid and sought to create both the day and evening wear that such powerful and influential women desired. With his highly polished style and tremendous skill, de la Renta bridged the gap between American and French fashion.

His garments were regularly featured on the covers of high fashion magazines and became glorious indulgences found in specialty stores around the country. His designs continue to represent the sophistication and international quality of fashion in the United States.

The Oscar de la Renta stamp collection is now available for purchase at usps.com/stamps, at 800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724), and at Post Offices nationwide.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy

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This stamp commemorates the 100th anniversary of the birth of John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963), 35th president of the United States. Kennedy was the nation’s first Catholic president and, at age 43, the youngest person ever elected to the nation’s highest office.

The stamp features a photograph taken by Ted Spiegel of Kennedy campaigning for president in Seattle, Washington, in 1960. The selvage art, showing President Kennedy in a reflective pose, is a 1970 oil painting by Aaron Shikler (courtesy of the White House Historical Association).

Kennedy was known for his charismatic personality and his ability to appeal to the nation’s higher ideals and to inspire young Americans to engage in public service. In his Inaugural Address, he called upon Americans to “ask not what your country can do for you-ask what you can do for your country.”

In the early months of his administration, Kennedy announced his signature initiative, the Peace Corps, to aid poor people in developing nations. In May 1961, Kennedy announced the bold goal of landing a man on the moon before the end of the decade, setting the nation on the path toward achieving the historic moon landing in 1969.

As the leader of the Free World during the height of the Cold War, Kennedy confronted the Soviet Union in a series of conflicts that could have escalated into a major war. The most dangerous of these was the Cuban Missile Crisis in the fall of 1962, when Soviet forces installed nuclear missiles in Cuba. Resisting the urging of his military advisers to bomb the missile sites, Kennedy opted instead for a naval “quarantine” and negotiations to convince Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev to remove the missiles, thus defusing a world crisis.

On November 22, 1963, while riding with his wife Jacqueline in an open car thronged by cheering crowds in Dallas, Texas, Kennedy was shot and killed by Lee Harvey Oswald. His violent and tragic death at age 46 left the nation grief-stricken and was one of the darkest moments in our history.

The John Fitzgerald Kennedy stamp is now available for purchase at usps.com/stamps, at
800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724), and at Post Offices nationwide.

Dorothy Height

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The 40th stamp in the Black Heritage series honors Dorothy Height (1912–2010), the tireless activist who dedicated her life to fighting for racial and gender equality. Although she rarely gained the recognition granted her male contemporaries, she became one of the most influential civil rights leaders of the 20th century.

In 1963, the Height-led National Council of Negro Women joined the Council for United Civil Rights Leadership. Height was an architect of the August 1963 March on Washington, where she shared the stage with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., when he gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, but unlike several of her male colleagues, Height did not speak at the landmark event. It was Height, however, who pushed to include a voice of youth like John Lewis of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and insisted on no time limits for King’s speech.

The need for gender equality was important to Height, who fought for the rights of women, particularly women of color. President John F. Kennedy named her to his Commission on the Status of Women (which was chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt); she attended the 1963 White House ceremony at which he signed the Equal Pay Act. In 1971, she helped form the National Women’s Political Caucus.

In 1977, Height officially retired from the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), for which she worked for 40 years. In addition to numerous honorary degrees, Height received the nation’s two highest civilian honors. In 1994, President Bill Clinton awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. A decade later, President George W. Bush presented her with the Congressional Gold Medal. In 2009, she was a guest of Barack Obama when he was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States.

The Dorothy Height stamp is now available for purchase at usps.com/stamps, at 800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724), and at Post Offices nationwide.

Lunar New Year

Stamp artist Kam Mak, Western Area VP Greg Graves, and Retail Associates Jianmei Guan, Jennifer Kim, Xiao Chen and Haoi Tran.

Stamp artist Kam Mak, Western Area VP Greg Graves, and Retail Associates Jianmei Guan, Jennifer Kim, Xiao Chen and Haoi Tran.

The Postal Service dedicated the Year of the Rooster Forever stamp recently, the 10th of 12 stamps in the Celebrating Lunar New Year series during a First-Day-of-Issue ceremony at the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience.

Considered the most important holiday of the year for many Asian communities around the world, the Lunar New Year is celebrated primarily by people of Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tibetan and Mongolian heritage.

Western Area Vice President Greg Graves dedicated the stamp at its official unveiling.

“Today’s event is important, not only because it’s our first stamp dedication of the new calendar year, but also because it gives the Postal Service a chance to reinforce our commitment to celebrate America’s great diversity through our stamps,” said Graves. “The beautiful Year of the Rooster Forever stamp is a sterling example of the Postal Service’s mission to issue stamps that demonstrate our country’s deep regard for its rich, multi-cultural heritage.”

Philatelists revel in NM event

Two customers peruse the many philatelic collectibles with Albuquerque, NM, P&DC General Clerk Lori Aldrich and Main Office Retail Associate Cecilia Padilla.

Two customers peruse the many philatelic collectibles with Albuquerque, NM, P&DC General Clerk Lori Aldrich and Main Office Retail Associate Cecilia Padilla.

Philatelists across New Mexico and beyond converged recently at the 11th annual New Mexico Philatelic Exhibition. Held at the Meadowlark Senior Center in Rio Rancho, the event showcased numerous stamp collection displays, tables packed with fun activities for children to spark their interest in stamp collecting, and a special postmark to commemorate the exhibition.

This year’s theme for the show was the National Parks Forever Stamp sheet which includes the Bandelier National Monument and Carlsbad Caverns National Park, both located in New Mexico.

The robust turnout not only delighted visitors, it also generated more than $2,000 in revenue for the Postal Service.

Wonder Woman

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The Postal Service, in conjunction with DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Consumer Products, dedicated four Forever stamps recently that commemorate the 75th anniversary of one of the most iconic Super Heroes of all time — Wonder WomanThe first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony took place in the DC Entertainment booth at New York Comic Con.

Fans are encouraged to share the news on social media using the hashtags #WonderWomanForever and #WonderWoman75.

“Wonder Woman was one of the first female Super Heroes that inspired countless young girls over the past three-quarters of a century,” said Postal Service Chief Information Officer and Executive Vice President Kristin Seaver. “We salute this heroic role model and her legacy that is sure to continue to span another 75 years.”

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In celebration of the new Wonder Woman stamp collection, employees at the Stanford, MT, Post Office created a scarecrow of the hero’s likeness and participated in the local annual Scarecrow in the Garden event. The Stanford team also shared information about the newly released stamp to appreciative fans.

The Wonder Woman Forever Stamp collection is now available for purchase at usps.com/stamps, at 800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724), and at Post Offices nationwide.

Jack-o’-lanterns

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In the spirit of Halloween, the U.S. Postal Service issued stamps featuring photographs of four different jack-o’-lanterns. These creatively carved pumpkins have been symbols of Halloween in the United States since the late 19th century, not long after celebrations of the holiday began here.

The jack-o’-lanterns depicted on the stamps were carved by Paul Montanari and photographed by Sally Andersen-Bruce.

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Brought to North America by immigrants from Ireland and Scotland, Halloween became a distinctively American celebration that transcended social boundaries and ethnic origin. After World War II, widespread enthusiasm for trick-or-treating gave the holiday a youthful emphasis, but since the 1970s adults have increasingly joined the festivities once again. A 2014 survey showed that nearly 67 percent of the American population celebrates Halloween in some way.

With customs and traditions that vary widely by community, Halloween now inspires parades and revelry, corn mazes and haunted houses, neighborhood and school parties, jack-o’-lantern and pumpkin festivals, and even pumpkin-catapulting. No matter how or where people observe this ever-changing holiday, it remains a much-anticipated celebration of the macabre in the face of approaching winter.

The Jack-o’-lanterns collection is now available for purchase at usps.com/stamps, at 800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724), and at Post Offices nationwide.

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