UK issues set of Star Wars stamps and covers

UK StarWars character set

On October 20, 2015, UK's Royal Mail issued a set of 18 special postage stamps to celebrate the Star Wars™ series of films and mark the release of the forthcoming episode, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The stamps, illustrated by British artist Malcolm Tween, depict nine iconic characters from the first six films and three from the forthcoming film: Rey, Finn and Kylo Ren. Incorporated onto each stamp is a secondary scene or character including new droid BB-8, illustrated by Tween especially for the stamps. In addition, the font used in the ‘1ST’ value of the stamps will replicate that of the iconic typeface used for the films.

Also issued was a Miniature Sheet of six stamps featuring intricately detailed illustrations of six notable Star Wars vehicles, brought together against a backdrop of the dreaded Death Star.

The Star Wars series began in 1977. So far, there have been two trilogies of movies that have included major British involvement at UK studios. The latest installment in the Star Wars saga, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, was filmed at Pinewood Studios, Buckinghamshire, using British expertise in cast and crew. The two further episodes in this trilogy will also be filmed in the UK.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens will reunite the three principal actors from the original trilogy as well as the robots R2-D2 and C-3PO. New characters Rey and Finn will be played by British actors Daisy Ridley and John Boyega respectively.


UK Darth Vader StarWars postage stamp DARTH VADER (played by David Prowse, voiced by James Earl Jones) - Darth Vader was once a Jedi Knight but was seduced to the dark side of the Force and became a Sith Lord. Vader served the Emperor for many years until, just moments before his death, he realized the terrible tragedy of his life.

UK Yoda StarWars postage stampYODA (voiced by Frank Oz) - Small in size but supremely powerful in the Force, Jedi Master Yoda trained many Jedi Knights, including Luke Skywalker. In addition, he served as a member of the Jedi Council, using his vast wisdom to fight the Empire.

UK Obi-Wan Kenobi StarWars postage stampOBI-WAN KENOBI (played by Alec Guinness) - A Jedi Master of great skill and bravery, Obi-Wan Kenobi trained Anakin Skywalker and was one of the few to escape Anakin’s purge of the Jedi Order. He initiated Luke Skywalker into the ways of the Force.

UK Stormtrooper StarWars postage stampSTORMTROOPER - The white-armoured soldiers and shock troops of the Empire, stormtroopers were originally clones of the legendary warrior named Jango Fett. Non-clone recruits swelled their numbers during the days of the Empire.

UK Han Solo StarWars postage stampHAN SOLO (played by Harrison Ford) - A smuggler by trade, Han Solo lived on his wits until he met Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia Organa and was persuaded to join the Rebel Alliance, taking part in some of its finest battles against the Empire.

UK Princess Leia StarWars postage stampPRINCESS LEIA (played by Carrie Fisher) - Adopted as a baby, Princess Leia became a senator for Alderaan and leader of the Rebel Alliance. She was fiercely devoted to the Rebel cause, and her resolve became even stronger when the Empire destroyed her home planet.

UK Emperor Palpatine StarWars postage stampTHE EMPEROR (played by Ian McDiarmid) - At first, Palpatine appeared to be a kindly politician, but his secret identity as a deadly Sith Lord, Darth Sidious, was finally revealed when he took control of the galaxy and began to rule it as the Emperor.

UK Luke Skywalker StarWars postage stampLUKE SKYWALKER (played by Mark Hamill) - The son of Anakin Skywalker, Luke was hidden from his father on Tatooine until he met Obi-Wan Kenobi and learned the ways of the Jedi, joining the Rebellion and playing a key part in the fight against the Empire.

UK Boba Fett StarWars postage stampBOBA FETT (played by Jeremy Bulloch) - A genetic clone of his father, Jango Fett, and one of the most feared bounty hunters in the galaxy, the legendary Boba Fett worked for many paymasters, including the Empire and various clients in the criminal underworld.

The three new characters from Star Wars: The Force Awakens are:

UK Rey StarWars postage stampREY (played by Daisy Ridley) - Three decades after the Battle of Endor, Rey makes a living by scavenging on the desert planet Jakku. However, she soon finds herself catapulted into the heart of a new crisis in the galaxy.

UK Finn StarWars postage stampFINN (played by John Boyega) - Finn was a stormtrooper in the forces of the First Order until he got stranded on the planet Jakku. There, an unlikely alliance with local scavenger Rey starts a chain of events that will affect the fate of the entire galaxy.

UK Kylo Ren StarWars postage stampKYLO REN (played by Adam Driver) - As the First Order emerges from the remnants of the defeated Empire, Kylo Ren becomes a new symbol of terror, with his dark hood and cloak and his mastery of a new kind of lightsaber with three red blades.


UK StarWars minisheet of space vehicles

RESISTANCE X-WING STARFIGHTERS - The modern incarnation of a classic design, the Incom T-70 X-wing fighter is the signature combat craft of the Resistance forces in their fight against the First Order.

MILLENNIUM FALCON - An extensively-modified Corellian light freighter, the Millennium Falcon is a legend in smuggler circles and is coveted by many for being the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy.

TIE FIGHTERS - Carried aboard Imperial Star Destroyers and battle stations, TIE fighters are single-pilot vehicles perfect for fast-paced dogfights with Rebel X-wings and other starfighters.

X-WING STARFIGHTER - This versatile and nimble Incom T-65 X-wing starfighter was used by the Rebel Alliance in their fight against the Empire. It was co-piloted by an astromech droid and armed with laser cannons and proton torpedo launchers, balancing speed with firepower.

FIRST ORDER SPECIAL FORCES TIE FIGHTERS - The elite of the First Order starfighter pilots have access to specialized craft, such as these two-seater TIE fighters outfitted with enhanced weapons and sensor systems.

AT-AT WALKERS - The massive All Terrain Armored Transport, or AT-AT walker, is an armor-plated, four-legged transport and combat vehicle used by the Imperial ground forces.

View the video see the story behind the issue of the Star Wars stamps:

Photo credits: Royal Mail

Thailand and Sri Lanka jointly issue stamps celebrating 60 years of diplomatic relations

Sir Lanka - Thailand joint stamp 2015

Sri Lanka Philatelic Bureau of the Department of Posts issued two new postage stamps in the denominations of Rs. 10.00, and Rs. 50.00 and a souvenir sheet on Monday, November 2, 2015 to mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and Thailand during the state visit of President Maithripala Sirisena to Thailand.

Thailand Post also issued two postage stamps parallel to this issue using the same designs in the same day and this will be the first ever joint stamp issue Sri Lanka has done with a foreign postal administration.

The ceremony was held in Government House, Bangkok, Thailand and W. A. G. Wickramasinghe (Deputy Postmaster General - Operations) and K. Kanagasundaram (Diector, Philatelic Bureau) participated in this ceremony representing Sri Lanka Post.

See the original article here.

Canada issues second set of ghost stories stamps

Canada Post has issued a second set of stamps featuring popular Canadian ghost stories. The stamps are part of a multi-year series that shares some of the spookiest tales from across the country.
This year’s set highlights stories about Vancouver’s Gastown – believed to have the most haunted history of any other neighborhood in Canada; the rumbling ghostly ox cart that panicked the soldiers of the Red River Valley’s Lower Fort Garry, in Manitoba; Marie-Josephte Corriveau, whose soul is said to wander the dark roads and forests near Lévis, Quebec; the Caribou Hotel in Carcross, Yukon, rumored to be haunted by its past innkeeper; and the Grey Lady who wanders the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site searching for her lost love.

“There is nothing more fun, yet unsettling, as ghost stories, and we have a history filled with these memorable tales. Our hope is that Canadians from coast to coast can continue to discover and pass on these stories, which are sure to give a few spine-tingling chills,” says Jim Phillips, Director of Stamp Services, Canada Post. “Be prepared for a little scare with these legendary local stories and let your creativity take over,” says Joel Sutherland, author of the children's series of Haunted Canada books and adviser to the stamp series. “The series makes for huddling close to the campfire – or a scary sleepover.”

  • Gastown, Vancouver, B.C. – haunted history: Legend has it the Waterfront Station and several bars and restaurants in the neighbourhood are all haunted – making it home to more dearly departed but persistently present spirits than any neighbourhood in Canada.
  • Red River Valley, Man. – the ox cart: In 1903, soldiers at the Red River Valley’s Fort Garry claimed to have seen phantoms driving a cart pulled by a team of oxen pass through their post at night.
  • Lévis, Que. – Marie-Josephte Corriveau: In 1763, she was executed on charges of murder. Her soul was said to walk the road at night, approaching travelers and grabbing anyone passing by with her claw-like hands as she opened her blood-red eyes.
  • Carcross, Yukon – Caribou Hotel: Built in the town of Bennett in 1898 at the start of the Klondike Gold Rush, the hotel is rumoured to be haunted by late hotel co-owner Bessie Gideon’s ghost. She was supposedly buried in Carcross but a cemetery survey did not locate her grave.
  • Halifax, N.S. – the Grey Lady: Legend has it that the spirit of the “Grey Lady” wanders the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site, mourning her lost love, strolling the second floor at night, smelling of roses and wearing a 19th-century dress.

About the stamps

The five Permanent domestic-rate stamps measure 32 mm by 32 mm and are available in booklets of 10. They were designed by Lionel Gadoury and printed by Lowe-Martin Group in six-colour lithography with a holographic foil. A souvenir sheet of the five stamps measuring 127 mm by 73 mm, an Official First Day Cover, cancelled in Lévis, Que., an uncut press sheet measuring 483 mm by 616 mm and a Haunted Canada Gift set complete this stamp issue.

US stamps feature Mexican artist Martín Ramírez

Martin Ramirez Forever stamps

The U.S. Postal Service has honored the work of Mexican artist Martín(pronounced Mar-teen) Ramírez by placing five of his more than 450 dynamic drawings and collages on Limited Edition Forever stamps. The First-Day-of-Issue stamp dedication ceremony took place Thurs., March 26,  at the Ricco/Maresca Gallery in New York City. The event is free and open to the public.

Although confined to psychiatric hospitals for more than 30 years, Ramírez transcended his own situation to create a remarkably visualized world free from the constraints of borders or time itself. Characterized by repeating lines, idiosyncratic motifs, and daring perspective, Ramírez’s art blends the emotional and physical landscapes of his life in Mexico with the modern popular culture of the United States. Although he worked mostly outside the art world in his lifetime, Ramírez is recognized today as one of the great artists of the 20th century. He was born in 1895 in a rural community in Guadalajara, and died in 1963.

“Our choice of Martin Ramírez as the subject of a Forever stamp sheet reflects the widespread — and growing — influence he has had on art in the United States, as well as on artists throughout the world,” said U.S. Postal Service Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President Joseph Corbett, who will dedicate the stamps.

“And though his name remained virtually unknown in the decade following his death in 1963, Martin Ramírez’s work has become some of the most highly valued examples of art. Today, he joins the ranks of other famous artists, such as Norman Rockwell, Georgia O’Keefe, William H. Johnson and Frida Kahlo, who have been honored on American postage stamps.”

Scheduled to join Corbett in the ceremony will be Ambassador Sandra Fuentes-Berain, Consul General of Mexico in New York; Prospect New Orleans/U.S. Biennial Executive Director Brooke Davis Anderson; “New York” magazine Senior Editor Jerry Saltz; and, Frank Maresca , partner, Ricco/Maresca Gallery.

Ramírez’s known body of work now comprises more than 450 drawings and collages “is a complete wonder,” said Brooke Davis Anderson, executive director of Prospect New Orleans, “because the artist defied his environment and diagnosis to create astounding art.”

The pane of 20 self-adhesive Forever stamps is imbued with hypnotic power and remarkable personal vision.

The first row of stamps highlights a floral detail from “Untitled (Horse and Rider with Trees),” created with crayon and pencil in 1954 on paper that has been pieced together. The artwork is owned by George and Sue Veiner.

The second row of stamps showcases the central image of “Untitled (Man Riding Donkey),” a gouache, colored pencil, and graphite drawing on paper from circa 1960 -1963. The artwork is owned by American author and academic Richard Rubenstein.

The third row of stamps shows a detail from “Untitled (Trains on Inclined Tracks),” a gouache, colored pencil, and graphite drawing on pieced paper from circa 1960–1963. The artwork is part of a private collection.

The fourth row of stamps showcases the central image of “Untitled (Deer).” The gouache, colored pencil, and graphite drawing on paper dates from circa 1960–1963. The owner of the image is unknown.

The fifth row of stamps features a detail from “Untitled (Tunnel With Cars and Buses).” The drawing was made with pencil, colored pencil, watercolor, and crayon on paper in 1954. The artwork is owned by the Guggenheim Museum.

The pane's verso includes brief text about Ramírez and his importance to 20th century American art.
Art director Antonio Alcalá of Alexandria, VA, designed the stamp pane.

Ramírez’s Origin
Ramírez and his family owned a small ranch and were devout Catholics, two cultural references that would later figure prominently in his art. By the early 1920s, Ramírez had set up his own small rural property and started a family, but ranchero life was difficult and money scarce. In 1925, he left Mexico for the United States, where, like other migrant workers at the time, he worked in mines and on the railroad.

Ramírez’s property was destroyed in a regional war just two years after he left Mexico, and the conflict prevented him from returning home to his wife and children. A few years later, he lost his job as a result of the Great Depression. Tens of thousands of Mexican migrant workers were deported from California during this period, but Ramírez was not among them. Emotionally upset and in poor physical condition, he was detained by police in 1931. Unable or unwilling to communicate, he was committed to a psychiatric hospital in northern California.

Catatonic Schizophrenia Diagnosis
After several months under observation, and without the aid of an interpreter, Ramírez was diagnosed with catatonic schizophrenia. During the clinical evaluation he limited himself to repeating that he did not speak English.

His Art
After leaving a psychiatric hospital, Ramírez began to draw obsessively. He worked crouched on the floor over enormous sheets of paper that he constructed out of discarded papers, cigarette packaging, and paper cups glued together with a paste he made himself. His usual art materials included pencils, crayons, shoe polish, red juice extracted from fruits, and the charcoal from used matchsticks.

Sometimes he used a tongue depressor as a straightedge. He also clipped images from magazines, which he occasionally added to his drawings. In spite of the shortage of materials, his works range in size from two feet to more than 20 feet long. To evaluate such large-scale pieces, he would lay out the scrolls on the floor and climb on a table to get a good look.

One of the first characteristics most viewers notice about Ramírez’s work are the lines. Repetitive and hypnotic, the lines define both space and time without constricting them. Not only do the lines carry viewers across the narrative plane and give depth to Ramírez’s images, but they also draw viewers into an idealized world where overcrowded highways and the railroads that Ramírez helped build lead directly to the towns, churches, and countryside of rural Mexico — and back again.

Filled with nostalgic scenes of his life in Mexico, Ramírez's drawings balance tradition and modernity, the figurative and the abstract. As with his use of lines, Ramírez repeated a small but refined vocabulary of motifs in drawing after drawing. One of his most frequent motifs was the horseback rider, or jinete. Nearly as common are trains and tunnels, which came to dominate his later work, including one scroll nearly 20 feet long from 1963. Other favorite images include landscapes, buildings, churches, Madonnas and desert wildlife. Although he used these motifs again and again for 30 years, Ramírez altered the details in each of his drawings to create enormous variety. The content of his work suggests that drawing was a prime means for preserving memory and identity, and for giving sense and order to the world around him.

Critical and public interest in Ramírez’s art began in the early 1950s, when a number of visitors to the hospital, including Dr. Tarmo Pasto, a professor of psychology and art at California State University, recognized the unique value of Ramírez's artwork. For the next two decades, Pasto and others supplied Ramírez with art-making materials, preserved his drawings, and helped organize public exhibitions, including shows at the de Young Memorial Museum and other museums in Northern California.

His Work Shown Anonymously
Purportedly because of the California laws applicable to institutionalized persons, Ramírez’s work was shown anonymously during his lifetime, and his name remained virtually unknown in the decade following his death in 1963. By the mid-1970s, however, his drawings were being exhibited to a much wider audience. “Ramírez’s work anticipates many contemporary trends, while unconsciously echoing earlier styles,” wrote one “Chicago Tribune” reviewer. “The compelling use of space, poetic re-creation of forms, and extraordinary vitality all scream for attention.”

In 1985, a retrospective of Ramírez’s drawings was held in Philadelphia before touring the U.S. and then traveling to Canada and Mexico. Ten years later, curators at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City discovered ten previously unknown drawings that had been held by the museum since the 1950s. In 2007, a retrospective show at the American Folk Art Museum established Ramírez as one of the great artists of the 20th century. The following year and to wide acclaim, the same museum exhibited some of the more than 140 drawings by Ramírez discovered in a California garage. In 2010, the New York exhibit was replicated by the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, the foremost contemporary art museum in Spain. In the same year, one of Ramírez’s drawings was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City for its permanent collection.

Customers may purchase the stamps at, the Postal Store, at 800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724) and at Post Offices nationwide or visit to shop for a wide variety of postage stamps and collectibles.

Ordering First-Day-of-Issue Postmarks
Customers have 60 days to obtain first-day-of-issue postmarks by mail. They may purchase new stamps at their local Post Office, at The Postal Store website at, or by calling 800-STAMP-24. They should affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes to themselves or others, and place them in larger envelopes addressed to:

Martin Ramirez Stamps
Special Events Coordinator
380 West 33rd Street
New York, NY 10199-9998

After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark up to a quantity of 50. For more than 50, customers are charged 5 cents each. All orders must be postmarked by May 25, 2015.

Ordering First-Day Covers
The Postal Service also offers first-day covers for new stamp issues and Postal Service stationery items postmarked with the official first-day-of-issue cancellation. Each item has an individual catalog number and is offered in the quarterly USA Philatelic catalog, online or by calling 800-782-6724. Customers may request a free catalog by calling 800-782-6724 or writing to:

U.S. Postal Service
Catalog Request
PO Box 219014
Kansas City, MO  64121-9014

Philatelic Products
Eight philatelic products are available.

Vintage rose and tulip stamps aimed at couples planning to wed

To add a special touch to Valentine’s Day, on February 14 the Postal Service issued two new stamps aimed at couples heading for the altar — the elegant Vintage Rose Forever stamp and the 2-ounce Vintage Tulip stamp. The flower stamps were dedicated in a ceremony at AmeriStamp Expo, the American Philatelic Society’s second largest annual event, held February 13-15, 2015 at the Riverside Convention Center in Riverside, California, featuring more than 75 on-site dealers and 300-plus frames of exhibits.

vintage rose and tulip stamps from the USPSBoth flower stamps are engraved to provide an elegant feel to wedding invitations and other heartfelt correspondence.

The art of both stamps feature an elaborate floral line drawings. A small, deep crimson heart on each stamp brings a dash of color to the designs and makes them a natural pair. Greg Breeding of Charlottesville, VA, was the art director. The Vintage Tulip and Vintage Rose stamps are the latest additions to the popular Weddings series.

The all-occasion 1-ounce Vintage Rose Forever stamp can be used for wedding RSVP cards and thank you notes, Mother’s and Father’s Day cards, Valentine’s Day cards, birthday cards, sympathy cards, thinking-of-you cards — and for all occasions when a beautiful stamp is fitting. The 70-cent 2-ounce Vintage Tulip stamp accommodates the added weight of RSVPs in invitations for weddings and other celebrations as well as for greeting cards and mailings such as small gifts requiring extra postage.

Jeanne Greco of New York City designed the stamps using drawings from engraved plates originally created by naturalist artist Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717). A small, deep crimson heart on both stamps adds a dash of color to the designs and makes them a natural pair.

Customers may purchase the stamps by visiting the official United States Postal Service store at to shop for a wide variety of postage stamps and collectibles. The stamps are also available at post offices nationwide or by calling 800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724).

Ordering First-Day-of-Issue Postmarks

Customers have 60 days to obtain first-day-of-issue postmarks by mail. They may purchase new stamps at their local Post Office, at official United States Postal Service store at United States Postal Service store on eBay. They should affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes to themselves or others, and place them in larger envelopes addressed to:

The Vintage Rose/Vintage Tulip Stamps
Riverside Main Post Office
3890 Orange St.
Riverside, CA 92501-3638

After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark up to a quantity of 50. For more than 50, customers are charged 5 cents each. All orders must be postmarked by Apr. 15, 2015.

US honors architect of Tuskegee Institute with new stamp

Robert Robinson Taylor, believed to have been both the first African-American graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the nation’s first academically trained black architect was honored as the 38th person featured in the United States Postal Service’s Black Heritage Stamp series.

The first-day-of-issuance ceremony, which took place on February 12, 2015, at the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum, coincided with the opening of the museum’s “Freedom Around the Corner: Black America from the Civil War to Civil Rights” exhibit. Taylor's great granddaughter, White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett joined Postmaster General Megan Brennan in dedicating the stamp.

us-robert-robinson-taylor-black-heritage-2015“Anytime I face a daunting challenge and self-doubt creeps in, I think of my great grandfather, Robert Taylor, the son of a slave, who traveled from Wilmington, NC, to attend M.I.T. in 1888,” said Jarrett. “He believed that with a good education, hard work, relentless determination and a dedication to family, there were no limits to what he could accomplish. The example he set gives me strength and courage. My family is proud to stand on his shoulders and we know that it is our responsibility to embrace his values, to ensure that his legacy will be ‘forever stamped’ in the conscious of future generations.”

“Robert Robinson Taylor expanded opportunities for African-Americans in fields that had largely been closed to them,” said Brennan, who earned her MBA from MIT. “Booker T. Washington recruited Taylor to the Tuskegee Institute to help show the world what an all-black institution could accomplish. Taylor designed and oversaw the construction of dozens of new buildings built in an elegant, dignified style that befitted his personality. But it was Tuskegee’s Chapel that Taylor considered to be his finest achievement and masterpiece. Washington referred to the graceful, round-arch structure as the ‘most imposing building’ at Tuskegee. As one of our nation’s calling cards, we hope this stamp will encourage more Americans to learn more about Robert Robinson Taylor’s life and career.”

Joining Brennan and Jarrett in the dedication were MIT President Dr. Rafael Reif; Tuskegee University President Dr. Brian Johnson; Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee member Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Smithsonian National Postal Museum Director Allen Kane.

For more than three decades, Taylor (1868–1942) supervised the design and construction of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama while also overseeing the school’s programs in industrial education and the building trades. Through his calm leadership and quiet dignity, he earned the admiration of colleagues and students alike while expanding opportunities for African-Americans in fields that had largely been closed to them.

Son of a Former Slave

Taylor was born June 6, 1868, in Wilmington, NC. His father was a former slave who had become a successful carpenter, contractor and merchant. From his father, Taylor learned carpentry and construction. After graduating from secondary school, he worked as a construction foreman before moving to Boston in 1888 to study in the architecture program at MIT.

Taylor’s studies were rigorous. He typically spent seven hours in class per day, and by his second year was taking as many as 10 courses per semester in such wide-ranging subjects as mechanics, acoustics, structural geology, heating, ventilation and sanitation, as well as in drawing, history, English and French. He earned honors in trigonometry, architectural history, differential calculus and applied mechanics, and was always at or near the top of his class.

Upon graduating, Taylor had several offers for teaching jobs, including an invitation from educator and activist Booker T. Washington to work at the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama. Washington had founded the school in 1881 not only to help African-Americans acquire valuable practical skills, but also to show the world what an all-black institution could accomplish.

Developed Tuskegee’s Architectural Curriculum

When Taylor arrived at Tuskegee in 1892, he was both a beginning architect and a busy teacher of architectural and mechanical drawing to students in all industrial trades, including building construction. Before the decade was over, he had established a beginning architecture curriculum that included carpentry, cost estimation, training in drawing building plans and the study of construction problems. Tuskegee soon began offering a certificate in architectural drawing, which would help graduates enter collegiate architecture programs or win entry-level positions in architectural offices. Taylor’s efforts furthered Washington’s dream of producing not just African-American builders and carpenters, but designers and architects who planned the buildings as well.

Designer of Tuskegee’s Campus

At the same time, Taylor set about designing and building the Tuskegee campus. Upon his arrival, the school was an assortment of cottages, cabins, and simple wood-frame or brick buildings scattered across an abandoned plantation. In the years following, Taylor designed and oversaw the construction of dozens of new, state-of-the-art buildings, from libraries and dormitories to lecture halls, faculty housing, gymnasia, scientific and agricultural facilities, industrial workshops, a hospital — and, most memorably, a handsome chapel that was used for conferences, graduation ceremonies, and religious services.

Taylor’s Colonial-style designs, including half a dozen buildings with grand porticos and large classical columns, were built of richly textured, multihued bricks made by the students themselves. In keeping with Washington’s belief that well-designed community buildings proved and nurtured racial progress, Taylor typically built in a style that was also consistent with his own personality: elegant, dignified and persuasive without being showy.

Taylor left Tuskegee in 1899 to work and study new building methods in Cleveland, but continued to design buildings for the school. When he returned in 1902, he was given the title he held for the rest of his career: Director of Mechanical Industries. He continued to design new buildings and oversaw the Department of Mechanical Industries, which included 22 divisions that trained harness makers, tinsmiths, wheelwrights, tailors, plumbers, steamfitters and many other skilled artisans.

His Inspirational Words

A 1915 letter captures the calm determination that surely inspired students under Taylor’s care. “There are not a great many colored architects and engineers in the country — comparatively few — but the number is increasing and I am glad to say that because of their work they have gradually gained the confidence of the public,” Taylor wrote. “I realize that in any movement which borders on that of the pioneer, that it takes some courage and some determination, but I believe that any risk which we may take in any operation, in any business or in any occupation, we will be fully repaid when we see that more and more avenues are being opened up for colored young men and colored young women, and the best lesson that we can give them is to let them see the things which have actually been accomplished by colored men and by colored women. I believe this would be among the greatest contributions that we can make towards racial progress.”

Unfaltering Leadership

Later in his career, Taylor played such a major role at Tuskegee that he served as acting principal when the principal was traveling. When members of the Ku Klux Klan paraded on a public road through the campus in 1923, Taylor kept the peace. He allowed a student dance to proceed as scheduled, assured the press that the institute could handle any trouble, and calmly watched from his veranda as the parade passed. He soon earned a promotion to vice principal for his strong, dignified display of leadership — but continued to serve as Director of Mechanical Industries.

Later in his career, Taylor designed or co-designed buildings beyond the Tuskegee campus as well, including a combined classroom, chapel and administrative building at Selma University; a combination office, entertainment, and retail building in Birmingham, and elegant libraries in North Carolina and Texas. In 1929, presented with a particularly interesting opportunity, he traveled to Liberia to help establish the Booker T. Washington Agricultural and Industrial Institute. He helped organize the curriculum and advised on staffing, leadership, and facilities, serving as an intermediary between missionaries, businesses, and the Liberian government; he also designed plans for the campus and its first structures. The trip was covered by the African-American press, and Lincoln University in Pennsylvania awarded him an honorary doctorate for his work.

Public Service and Advocacy Following Retirement

After retiring in 1932, Taylor returned to Wilmington, NC, and spent the final decade of his life engaged in quiet but determined public service and advocacy. He promoted a federal homesteading project for African-American farmers and argued in favor of federally funded African-American recreation projects. He was elected vice chairman of the Wilmington Inter-Racial Commission, served on the board of Fayetteville State Teacher’s College, and wrote to the U.S. Civil Service Commission in 1941 to protest discrimination against African Americans in the defense industry.

Final Moments Surrounded by his Masterpiece

Taylor died Dec. 13, 1942, at the age of 74 after collapsing in a chapel during a visit to Tuskegee. According to family, moments before an aneurism struck Taylor, the famously modest man who rarely talked about his work acknowledged that the chapel was his masterpiece.

In her 2012 book about Taylor and Tuskegee, architectural historian Ellen Weiss writes that Taylor was eulogized for “his principled character, his organizational abilities, his special tact on interracial matters, and his achievements as an educator and architect.” Colleagues and friends recalled him as eloquent, intelligent, dignified and kind.

MIT’s Influence

In a talk he gave on the occasion of MIT’s 50th anniversary in 1911, Taylor summarized what his MIT training helped bring to Tuskegee. In the process, he encapsulated both his personal strengths and his lasting legacy: “the love of doing things correctly, of putting logical ways of thinking into the humblest task, of studying surrounding conditions, of soil, of climate, of materials and of using them to the best advantage in contributing to build up the immediate community in which the persons live, and in this way increasing the power and grandeur of the nation.”

The Robert Robinson Taylor stamp is being issued as a Forever stamp which is always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail 1-ounce price.

Customers may purchase the stamps by visiting the official United States Postal Service store at to shop for a wide variety of postage stamps and collectibles. The stamps are also available at post offices nationwide or by calling 800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724).

Ordering First-Day-of-Issue Postmarks

Customers have 60 days to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmark by mail. They may purchase new stamps at their local Post Office, at The Postal Store website at, or by calling 800-STAMP-24. They should affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes to themselves or others, and place them in a larger envelope addressed to:

Robert Robinson Taylor Stamp
Special Events
PO Box 92282
Washington, DC 20090-2282

After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark up to a quantity of 50. For more than 50, customers are charged 5 cents each. All orders must be postmarked by Apr. 13, 2015.