US issues Songbirds stamps

US Songbirds stampsThe United States celebrates the arrival of spring with ten stamps featuring melodic songbirds: the Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta), the Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides), the Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana), the Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris), the Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula), the Evening Grosbeak (Coccothraustes vespertinus), the Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea), the Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus), the American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis) and the White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis).

Each colorful bird is shown perching on a fence post or branch embellished with vines, pinecones, leaves, or flowers. The artwork appears against a plain, white background.

Why do songbirds make such a glorious racket every morning? In a word, love. Males sing to attract females, and to warn rivals to keep out of their territory. Between 4,000 and 4,500 different types of songbirds can be found around the planet, accounting for nearly half of all bird species. Songbirds are identified by their highly developed vocal organs, although some, like the crow, have harsh voices, and others sing rarely, or not at all. All songbirds are classified as perching birds. With three toes that point forward and one that points backward, they can grip branches, grasses, or telephone wires with ease.

Illustrator Robert Giusti painted the portraits, based on photographs. Art director Derry Noyes designed the stamps.

Songbirds were released April 5, 2014 and are sold as Forever® stamps in booklets of 20. These Forever stamps will always be equal in value to the current First-Class Mail® one-ounce rate.

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Philippines and Vatican honor Pope Francis on new stamps

Philippines 2014 Pope Francis commemorative stamp

The Philippine Postal Corporation, in collaboration with the Holy See, has released a commemorative postage stamp celebrating the pontificate of Pope Francis.

“The stamp will make this event memorable and will serve as a historical patrimony for the generations to come,” Philippine Ambassador to the Holy See Mercedes Tuason told CNA March 21.

“The postage stamp is an effort of the Filipino people to, in some way, materialize our thanksgiving to God for giving us Pope Francis and to ask him to continue to bless the Pope and guide him in his task.”

The stamp features a smiling image of Pope Francis and the words “Pope Francis year II – 2014.” The Philippine Postal Corporation released the stamp March 19, while the Vatican Postal administration issued a similar one March 21. Read the rest of this entry »

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British Guiana one-cent magenta

British Guiana One Cent Magenta

The world's rarest stamp is the British Guiana 1 Cent Magenta issued in 1856. Only a single copy is known to exist.

In 1852, British Guiana (now Guyana) began receiving regular postage stamps manufactured in England by Waterlow & Sons. But in 1856, an expected shipment of stamps did not arrive on time, which threatened a disruption of postal service throughout British Guiana.

The local postmaster, E.T.E. Dalton, secured the services of printers Joseph Baum and William Dallas, who were the publishers of the Official Gazette newspaper in Georgetown, to print an emergency issue of three stamps. The 1 cent magenta was intended for use on local newspapers. The other two stamps, the British Guiana 4 cent magenta and the British Guiana 4 cent blue, were for letter postage.

Postmaster Dalton provided some specifications about the design of the stamps, but the printer chose to add a ship image of their own design. Dalton was not pleased with the end result, and as a safeguard against forgery ordered that all correspondence bearing the stamps be autographed by a post office clerk. This particular stamp was initialed 'E.D.W.' by the clerk E.D. Wight.

The sole-surviving example of the one-cent magenta was first rediscovered not far from where it was first purchased. In 1873, L. Vernon Vaughan, a 12-year-old Scottish schoolboy living with his family in the Guyanese town of Demerara (whose postmark the stamp bears), found the rare stamp among his uncle's letters. There was no record of it in his stamp catalog, so he sold it some weeks later for six shillings to a local collector, N.R. McKinnon. Read the rest of this entry »

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US 13 cent John F Kennedy stamp (Prominent American Series)The 13 cent John F Kennedy stamp in the Prominent Americans Series was first issued in Brookline, Massachusetts, on May 29, 1967, on what would have been Kennedy's 50th birthday. The issue was designed by Stevan Dohanos, modeled after a photograph by Jacques Loew in the book The Kennedy Years. The 13-cent Kennedy stamp paid the rates for both foreign surface letters and air postcards.

Issue Date: May 29, 1967
City: Brookline, MA
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Rotary Press
Color: Brown

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US 1967 13 cent President John F Kennedy Aerogramme

US 1967 13 Cents President John F Kennedy Aerogramme Air Letter Sheet FDC

The 13-cent John F. Kennedy aerogramme was issued May 29, 1967, with ceremonies a day earlier in conjunction with the Compex exhibition in Chicago. Except for the denomination, this stamp duplicates the design of the previous 11-cent aerogramme. Increases in international mail rates, which became effective May 1, 1967, prompted the new denomination.

The illustrated first day cover, postmarked in Chicago, bears an embossed design by Artcraft.

Photo credit: David K. Staub

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US announces 2013 Kwanzaa stamp design

us-kwanza-2013With bright colors and a new stylized design, the U.S. Postal Service continues its tradition of celebrating Kwanzaa. This annual non-religious holiday, which takes place over seven days from December 26 to January 1, brings family community, and culture together for many African Americans.

The stamp art features a man, woman, and child dressed in traditional, African-inspired clothing joined together in a unifying embrace. Their intertwined arms form a circle around seven candles, known as the mishumaa saba—a centerpiece of the Kwanzaa table. An open book symbolizes the holiday’s emphasis on knowledge and cultural history. The design is cast in the holiday’s primary colors of red, black, and green.

Created in 1966 by activist and scholar Maulana Karenga, Kwanzaa draws on African traditions, deriving its name from the phrase “first fruits” in Swahili, a widely spoken African language. It has its origins in first harvest celebrations that occurred across the African continent in ancient and modern times. Karenga sought to synthesize and reinvent these tribal traditions as a contemporary celebration of African-American culture.

Artist R. Gregory Christie worked with art director Antonio Alcalá, who designed the stamp.

This is the fifth stamp design issued by the U.S. Postal Service in celebration of Kwanzaa. The first Kwanzaa commemorative stamp was issued in 1997. New designs were also issued in 2004, 2009, and 2011.

Kwanzaa is being issued as a Forever® stamp. Forever stamps are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail® one-ounce rate.

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The Bahamas honors BREEF with marine-themed stamps

bahamas-breef-marine-life-2013The Bahamas Postal Services has released a set of colorful marine-themed commemorative postage stamps to mark the 20th anniversary of The Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF). Founded by the late Sir Nicholas Nuttall in 1993, BREEF is a non-profit foundation that addresses ongoing concerns on the changing conditions of the Bahamian marine environment. The stunning underwater images on the stamps were taken by BREEF, Stuart Cove Dive Bahamas, Sandy Voegeli, Grant Johnson, and Katie Grudecki.

Casuarina Lambert-McKinney, Executive Director at BREEF explains the vision and mission goals for BREEF. “Our vision for The Bahamas is one in which people appreciate the value of our seas and where all take responsibility and action to ensure a healthy marine environment for the future. BREEF recognises that a healthy sea supports our culture and economy, and makes The Bahamas a truly special place in the world. There is a tremendous diversity of life to be found on Bahamian coral reefs, seagrass beds, sand flats, mangrove creeks and in the open ocean. It is therefore essential for BREEF to advocate daily for the sustainable use of the marine environment through education, research and environmental policy.”

BREEF was involved last year in creating last year’s now popular, definitive marine life stamp issue and it is hoped that this new commemorative issue of 15, 50, 65 and 70 cent stamps will help create the need for further public awareness of the marine environment both in The Bahamas and abroad. Two of the new stamps feature the Nassau Grouper, a now endangered species that has experienced severe population decline throughout the region.

The oceans of The Bahamas constitute over 95% of Bahamian territory. BREEF recognizes that as a nation of islands the people of The Bahamas depend heavily on a healthy marine environment to support the life spans and breeding grounds, particularly of crawfish and conch and the many varieties of fish, such as Grouper, that underpin our fishing industry. In order to sustain livelihoods, BREEF advocates that we all learn productive use of the environment… without using it up.

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Canada stamp honouring Prince George christeningHis Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge has made his appearance on a new limited-edition commemorative stamp issued by Canada on October 22. The stamp features an informal photo of His Royal Highness Prince George with his mother and father, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The photo was taken by his grandfather, Michael Middleton, this summer. Prince George is the youngest Royal to make an appearance on a Canadian stamp.

“When His Royal Highness was born, people around the world celebrated. Canada joined the festivities with blue baby lights shining on the Peace Tower in Ottawa, the Horseshoe Falls in Niagara Falls and the CN Tower in Toronto. This stamp proudly memorializes this moment in our history,” says the Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport and responsible for Canada Post.

“Canadian stamps continue to document moments in time and this stamp is a fitting addition to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s family album of Canadian stamps,” says Deepak Chopra, President and CEO of Canada Post. “We know that Canadians – as well as people across the world – will enjoy sharing this piece of royal history for the future king.”

In 2011, Canada Post issued two stamps featuring His and Her Royal Highnesses, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge; one to commemorate the young couple’s engagement and the second to mark their wedding. Those stamps proved to be the most popular issues of that year. The couple's wedding was also featured on a third stamp to commemorate the first Royal Visit to Canada following their wedding.

Also, part of this new issue is a souvenir sheet and Official First Day Cover, showcasing an image of the Peace Tower in Ottawa awash with blue light as it was on the night of the Prince’s birth. The stamp and other collectibles ware available at post offices across Canada as well as online at

Stamp Details
The stamp measures 32 mm x 32 mm with simulated perforations. This Permanent™ stamp, which is always worth the going domestic rate, is printed by Lowe-Martin on Tullis Russell paper using seven-colour lithography. The stamp is pressure sensitive and the Official First Day Cover will be cancelled in Prince George, British Columbia. The stamp is available in booklets of 10 stamps and souvenir sheets of two stamps.

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