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WASHINGTON — From a former U.S. president to legends of Latin music to the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500-mile auto race to the garden of love, the 2011 commemorative stamp program has something for everyone.
The U.S. Postal Service today officially unveiled the images of its commemorative stamp program. Among this year’s honorees are former President Ronald Reagan, legendary author Mark Twain, award-winning actor and actress Gregory Peck and Helen Hayes, and Latin music giants Selena, Carlos Gardel, Carmen Miranda, Tito Puente and Celia Cruz.
In addition, former U.S. Congresswoman from Texas Barbara Jordan is the 2011 Black Heritage stamp honoree. Stamps will be issued to observe the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the 50th anniversary of America’s first manned spaceflight and a celebration of Disney Pixar movie characters: Lightning McQueen and Mater from Cars; Remy the rat and Linguini from Ratatouille; Buzz Lightyear and two of the green, three-eyed aliens from Toy Story; Carl Fredricksen and Dug from Up; and the robot WALL*E from Wall*E on Send a Hello stamps.
The Lunar New Year: Year of the Rabbit stamp, to be issued Jan. 22, will be a Forever Stamp for use in mailing a 1-ounce letter. Regardless of when the stamps are purchased or used in the new year, no matter how prices may change in the future, these stamps will always be equal to the current First-Class Mail 1-ounce price.
Since the first Forever Stamp, featuring the Liberty Bell, was issued in April 2007, 28 billion Forever Stamps have been sold, resulting in $12.1 billion in total revenue. Now that the Postal Service offers coils, booklets and Holiday Forever Stamps, almost 85 percent of its stamp program is Forever.
In addition, new designs will be issued for Purple Heart, Wedding and Holidays stamps in 2011. Stamps may be purchased at local Post Offices, at The Postal Store website at www.usps.com/shop, or by calling 800-STAMP-24.
The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses, and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.
For more information and low-resolution images of the stamps in the 2011 series, visit the USPS Newsroom at www.usps.com/news.
On Jan. 22, the U.S. Postal Service will issue the fourth of twelve stamps in its Celebrating Lunar New Year series, which began in 2008 with the Year of the Rat. The Year of the Rabbit begins on Feb. 3, 2011, and ends on Jan. 22, 2012.
The Lunar New Year is celebrated primarily by people of Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tibetan, and Mongolian heritage in many parts of the world. In the United States as elsewhere, the occasion is marked in various ways across a diverse array of cultures. Parades, parties, and other special events are common.
Kumquats, such as those depicted in the stamp art, are given as gifts and eaten for luck at this time of renewed hope for the future.
Famous people born in the Year of the Rabbit include film director Francis Ford Coppola, athlete Michael Jordan, and actress Drew Barrymore.
Art director Ethel Kessler worked on the series with illustrator Kam Mak, an artist who grew up in New York City’s Chinatown and now lives in Brooklyn. The illustration was originally created using oil paints on panel.
Kessler’s design also incorporates elements from the previous series of Lunar New Year stamps, using Clarence Lee’s intricate paper-cut design of a rabbit and the Chinese character—drawn in grass-style calligraphy by Lau Bun—for "Rabbit."
The 150th anniversary of Kansas statehood is commemorated with the issuance of this stamp. Kansas is believed to be named after the Kansas River, which bears the name of the Kansa, one of several Native American tribes in the region prior to European settlement. Kansas became the 34th state in the Union on Jan. 29, 1861.
This stamp, which will be issued Jan. 27, features artwork by renowned commercial and fine-art painter Dean Mitchell. Created specifically for the U.S. Postal Service, this stamp is a symbolic artistic snapshot of Kansas that encapsulates many of the state’s most prominent features: history, industry, agriculture, and pioneering ingenuity.
In the foreground stands a type of efficient windmill pioneered in America during the mid-19th century, first made of wood but later out of metal (like the one shown on this stamp) and fitted with a tail, like a weather vane, to change the direction of the wheel relative to the wind.
In the background stand five modern wind turbines that demonstrate continuity and the forward-looking nature of the modern Kansas economy. Below and behind the windmills is the Kansas landscape, with stylized bands of color implying the varying topography of the state. A golden band suggests the undulating plains of western Kansas and implying statewide prosperity in agriculture, while a green band hints at the forests and hills of eastern Kansas.
The Postal Service recognizes the centennial of the birth of Ronald Reagan (1911-2004), America’s 40th President. The stamp issuance is one of a number of centennial events taking place across the nation in 2011 to commemorate Reagan’s life and legacy. The stamp goes on sale Feb. 10.
Ronald Wilson Reagan was a well-known Hollywood actor who appeared in more than fifty films before becoming a prominent political leader. Distinguished by his charisma and oratorical skills, he was one of the most influential Presidents of the 20th century.
In the year following Reagan’s death on June 5, 2004, the Postal Service issued a memorial stamp honoring him for his service as a U.S. President.
The stamp art, by Bart Forbes of Plano, TX, was created in oil wash on board. It is based on a photograph of Reagan taken in 1985, during his second term as President, at his beloved "Rancho del Cielo" (Ranch in the Sky), near Santa Barbara, CA.
With this stamp, the U.S. Postal Service is proud to pay tribute to jazz, America’s musical gift to the world, and to the musicians who play it in studios, clubs, or concert halls, and on festival stages.
Jazz developed originally as an innovative combination of European, American, and African influences. It first flowered near the dawn of the 20th century in New Orleans, LA, where Africans from various places mixed with native-born Americans of diverse ancestry as well as Europeans and people from the islands of the Caribbean. This unique blend of cultures gave rise to a distinctive musical expression—and the blending process has continued, with jazz incorporating further influences from Latin, Asian, and African cultures.
Major jazz figures include composers such as Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, and Thelonious Monk; singers such as Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Sarah Vaughan; and innovative musicians such as Lester Young, John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Bill Evans, Miles Davis, and Ornette Coleman — all internationally admired.
Art director Howard Paine designed the stamp to showcase the work of Paul Rogers, an artist living in Pasadena, CA. In creating the art for the stamp, originally using ink on paper and then finishing his work digitally, Rogers explored the way images could become a visual equivalent of jazz music. He was inspired by the cover art from vintage jazz record albums—work that captured the music’s improvisational quality while built on a clear understanding of its underlying structure.
Five legendary musicians and performers of the Latin sound whose contributions have had a lasting impact on American music —Selena, Carlos Gardel, Carmen Miranda, Tito Puente, and Celia Cruz – will be honored on stamps. Among the distinctive musical genres and styles represented are Tejano, tango, samba, Latin jazz, and salsa. The stamps go on sale in March.
For these stamps, artist Rafael Lopez, of San Diego, CA, painted semi-realistic portraits of each musical artist designed to evoke their personality, vitality, and even their sound. He used a warm palette of colors—from brilliant yellows, pinks, and lime green to rich shades of purple and blue—to suggest the flavor and energy these artists brought to their work. Each musician is depicted in mid-performance. One can almost hear Celia Cruz shout her trademark rallying cry ¡Azucar! (Sugar!) or sense Tito Puente's rhythmic intensity as he performed one of his progressive arrangements on the timbales. Art director Ethel Kessler, of Bethesda, Maryland, says, “My goal was that when you see the stamp, you hear the music.”
Lopez's first project for the U.S. Postal Service was the Merengue design for the 2005 Let's Dance/Bailemos stamp pane, followed in 2007 with the Mendez v. Westminster stamp.
Texas-born Selena Quintanilla-Perez (1971-1995)—known to fans simply as Selena—helped transform and popularize Tejano music by integrating techno-hip-hop beats and disco-influenced dance movements with a captivating stage presence. A Grammy recipient, the “Queen of Tejano” broke gender barriers with record sales and awards. Even after her tragic death, Selena remains an important representative of Latino culture.
A superb and evocative singer, Carlos Gardel (1890?-1935) was one of the most celebrated tango artists of all time. Raised in Argentina, Gardel helped popularize the tango in the United States, Europe, and throughout Latin America through his performances and recordings. “The man with the tear in his voice” also achieved fame as one of the stars of the Spanish-language cinema.
Born in Portugal and raised in Brazil, Carmen Miranda (1909-1955) achieved fame as a samba singer before moving to New York City, where she gained instant celebrity in theater, film, and radio. The “Brazilian Bombshell” appeared in 14 Hollywood musicals and recorded more than 300 songs. Her exotic signature outfit and persona are an inexhaustible source of inspiration.
Born in New York City to Puerto Rican parents, Tito Puente (1923-2000) was a musical virtuoso popularly known as El Rey, “The King”. With dynamic solos on the timbales and orchestral arrangements that have become classics in Latin music, Puente helped bring Afro-Cuban and Caribbean sounds to mainstream audiences. He performed for more than 60 years, and his legacy includes more than 140 albums.
A dazzling performer of many genres of Afro-Caribbean music, Celia Cruz (1925-2003) had a powerful contralto voice and a joyful, charismatic personality that endeared her to fans from different nationalities and across generations. Settling in the United States following the Cuban revolution, the “Queen of Salsa” performed for more than five decades and recorded more than 50 albums.
Good times call for good wishes, as the Postal Service gets in on the act with the Neon Celebrate! stamp to be issued in March. Bringing an extra wish for happiness to anyone celebrating a special time, this stamp features a brilliantly colored design crafted out of neon and glass that adds a spark to greeting cards, invitations, and gift-bearing envelopes and packages. No matter the occasion—birthday, anniversary, engagement, wedding, new job, retirement—this stamp will add another congratulatory wish to the good times being acknowledged.
Inspired by a visit to the Museum of Neon Art in Los Angeles, Art Director Phil Jordan began to think about the possibility of using neon to depict a stamp subject. He decided that a “Neon Celebrate!” stamp, with its imagery of vivid colors, fit the bill. “Most neon is huge and stamps are so small,” said Jordan. “The mechanics would be a monumental challenge. Not everyone thought we could pull it off.”
After reviewing the work of a number of artists, Jordan chose Michael Flechtner to craft the U.S. Postal Service's first neon stamp design. Interested in neon from an early age, Flechtner honed his glass-bending skills while working in a neon sign shop after graduate school, where he earned a Master of Fine Arts in sculpture. This background enabled him to create neon tubing that depicted three-dimensional objects instead of the two dimensional forms typically found in signage and other graphic neon displays.
Flechtner came up with the idea for his stamp design while watching a fireworks display. “I felt that fireworks, with all their color, light, and motion, were the embodiment of a celebration,” he says. “Since neon is all about color and light, it was the perfect design for the medium.”
The 2011 Neon Celebrate! stamp is Michael Flechtner's first project for the U.S. Postal Service.
Actress Helen Hayes, who justly deserved the title “First Lady of the American Theater” for her radiant presence on Broadway for much of the twentieth century will be honored on a stamp in April. She also gave memorable and award-winning performances on radio, film, and television.
The stamp features original art by Drew Struzan, whose movie posters for the Indiana Jones and Star Wars series have been seen by millions. Struzan based his design for the stamp on a photograph taken of Hayes circa 1958.
Helen Hayes Brown was born in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 10, 1900. She began acting at age 5 in a school production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and early on had a love for the theater.
Notable stage performances by Hayes, in New York and elsewhere, included Happy Birthday (1946), for which she won the inaugural Tony Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actress; Time Remembered (1957), for which she won her second Tony Award; and Eugene O’Neill’s A Touch of the Poet (1958). Altogether, Hayes appeared in more than 100 stage productions during the long span of her career.
The Postal Service begins a series with these stamps commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, joining others across the country in paying tribute to the American experience during the tumultuous years from 1861 to 1865. The stamps will go on sale April 12.
A souvenir sheet of two stamps will be issued each year through 2015. For 2011, one stamp depicts the beginning of the war in April 1861 at Fort Sumter, South Carolina, while the other depicts the first major battle of the war three months later at Bull Run, near Manassas, Virginia.
The Civil War profoundly changed the country, bringing an end to slavery, transforming the social life of the South and the economic life of the nation, and having a lasting impact on those who lived through the four-year ordeal.
Art Director Phil Jordan of Falls Church, VA, created the stamps using images of Civil War battles. The Fort Sumter stamp is a reproduction of a Currier & Ives lithograph, circa 1861, titled “Bombardment of Fort Sumter, Charleston Harbor.” The Bull Run stamp is a reproduction of a 1964 painting by Sidney E. King titled “The Capture of Rickett’s Battery.” The painting depicts fierce fighting on Henry Hill over an important Union battery during the Battle of First Bull Run.
For the stamp pane’s background image, Jordan used a photograph dated circa 1861 of a Union regiment assembled near Falls Church, Virginia.
The stamp pane includes comments on the war by Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, and Robert E. Lee. It also includes some of the lyrics used during the Civil War in “Johnny is Gone for a Soldier,” a song dating back at least to the Revolutionary War.
With the 17th stamp in the Legends of Hollywood series, the Postal Service honors Gregory Peck on April 29. One of America’s most respected actors, Peck appeared in more than 60 films during a remarkable career that stretched from the Golden Age of Hollywood to the emergence of independent filmmaking. His intelligence, natural elegance, and searing integrity impressed critics from the start and endeared him to generations of moviegoers. Nominated five times for the Academy Award for Best Actor, he won the Oscar for his performance as defense attorney Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird, a character that Peck said was closest to his own heart.
Peck’s own favorite role, and the one for which he is most remembered, is Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird. Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Harper Lee, the film tells the story of Atticus’s defense of a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman. The film opened in December 1962. According to Variety, it was “a major film achievement, a significant, captivating and memorable picture that ranks with the best of recent years.” The film earned eight Academy Award nominations, countless international honors, and the Best Actor Oscar for Peck. Perhaps Harper Lee summed it up best: “Atticus Finch gave Gregory Peck an opportunity to play himself.” In 2003, the American Film Institute (AFI) ranked Atticus Finch the number one movie hero in American film history.
Peck was President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from 1967 to 1970 and also served as a longtime governor. He was an inaugural member of the National Council on the Arts and the Founding Chairman of the AFI. He was National Chairman of the American Cancer Society and raised record-breaking contributions. He also devoted himself to the Motion Picture & Television Fund, which provides health care to members of the entertainment industry. For his public service, he received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, an honorary Oscar, in 1967.
In 1969, President Lyndon B. Johnson awarded Peck the Presidential Medal of Freedom as “an artist who had brought new dignity to the actor’s profession,” and in 1970, Peck received the Screen Actors Guild award for “outstanding achievement in fostering the ideals of the acting profession.” In 1989, he received the AFI Life Achievement Award, followed by the Kennedy Center Honors in 1991 and the National Medal of Arts in 1998.
The stamp portrait is a still photograph from the film, which tells the story of Atticus's defense of a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman. Peck's performance earned him an Oscar, and the character was named the greatest hero in motion picture history by the American Film Institute. The selvage image shows Peck with his Academy Award.
In 2011, the Postal Service honors the sacrifices of the men and women who serve in the U.S. military with the issuance of the Purple Heart with Ribbon stamp. The stamp goes on sale May 2. The Purple Heart is awarded in the name of the President of the United States to members of the U.S. military who have been wounded or killed in action. According to the Military Order of the Purple Heart, an organization for combat-wounded veterans, the medal is "the oldest military decoration in the world in present use and the first award made available to a common soldier."
On August 7, 1782, during the Revolutionary War, General George Washington issued an order that established a badge of distinction for meritorious action. The badge, which consisted of a heart made of purple cloth, is known to have been awarded to three sergeants from Connecticut regiments. Known as the Badge of Military Merit, the award was distinctive because it was available to the lower ranks at a time when only officers were eligible for decoration in European armies. "The road to glory in a patriot army," Washington wrote, "is thus open to all."
Although not continued after the Revolutionary War, the decoration was reinstated by the U.S. War Department (now the Department of Defense) on February 22, 1932, the 200th anniversary of Washington’s birth. The redesigned decoration consists of a purple heart of metal bordered by gold, suspended from a purple and white ribbon. In the center of the medal is a profile bust of George Washington beneath his family coat of arms.
This new stamp features a photograph taken by Ira Wexler of Braddock Heights, MD, of the Purple Heart medal awarded during World War II to 1st Lieutenant Arthur J. Rubin (1917-1978). Rubin, a native of the Bronx, NY, began his military service with the U.S. Army in May 1943. He was injured twice in 1944—on July 6 and July 10—during military operations near Sainteny, a village in the Normandy region of France and was awarded a Purple Heart and an Oak Leaf Cluster to the Purple Heart. On July 8, 1944, for gallantry in action during a fierce German counter-attack, he received a Silver Star. In February 1946, Rubin returned to civilian life. Upon his death in December 1978, Rubin was buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.
In 2003, the Postal Service issued its first Purple Heart stamp. It featured a photograph, also taken by Wexler, of a Purple Heart awarded to Lt. Colonel James Loftus Fowler (USMC) in 1968 following an action on the border between North and South Vietnam.
The 50th anniversary of America's first manned spaceflight is being commemorated with the issuance of two stamps. The stamps go on sale May 4.
One stamp salutes the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Project Mercury, America’s first manned spaceflight program, and NASA astronaut Alan Shepard’s historic flight on May 5, 1961, aboard the spacecraft Freedom 7.
The other stamp draws attention to NASA’s unmanned MESSENGER mission, a scientific investigation of the planet Mercury. On March 18, 2011, MESSENGER will become the first spacecraft to enter into orbit around Mercury.
These two historic missions—Shepard’s Mercury flight and MESSENGER’s orbit of Mercury—frame a remarkable fifty-year period in which America has advanced space exploration through more than 1,500 manned and unmanned flights.
The Project Mercury and MESSENGER Mission stamps were designed by Donato Giancola of Brooklyn, NY, under the direction of Phil Jordan of Falls Church, VA. A three-time winner of the Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist, Giancola is known for his cover illustrations for science fiction authors, including Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Phillip K. Dick, and Arthur C. Clarke. His luminous works for J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings have received recognition through more than a dozen awards.
Giancola based the stamp designs on NASA photographs and images. The Project Mercury stamp depicts Shepard, the Mercury capsule Freedom 7, and the Redstone launching rocket. The MESSENGER Mission stamp depicts the MESSENGER spacecraft in orbit around the planet Mercury.
The Garden of Love — ten different First-Class stamps depicting a colorful mosaic of flora and fauna in a garden setting — will be issued May 19. These stamps are a continuation of the Love series, begun in 1973, and are intended for use on Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day cards, as well as on other occasions when love and affection are expressed.
Award-winning illustrator José Ortega of New York City and Toronto depicts an abstract garden of bright flowers, a butterfly, a strawberry, and doves, interlaced with vines that run from one stamp to another. Each prominent element of the design is in the shape of a heart. The deep blue background is reminiscent of a brilliant summer sky. The word “Love” sits atop each stamp.
Ortega says, “Garden of Love depicts the abundance of life, its generosity, whose spirit is to be shared by all its creatures. Love’s definition is broader than romantic love. Love is that colorful, full feeling you get when you enjoy being a part of and sharing in the generosity of life.”
To create his design, Ortega made a digital file of his original pencil and marker drawings. Then he added color, improvising until the garden took shape. Ortega, a collector of decorative arts, says tapestries, textiles, and mosaics influenced his choice of colors and patterns.
Ortega’s previous projects for the U.S. Postal Service include the 2007 With Love and Kisses stamp and the Salsa stamp, one of four stamp designs that appeared as part of the 2005 Let’s Dance/Bailemos issuance.
The centennial of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, the automobile race held since 1911 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, IN, is being commemorated on a stamp in May. Since the first race in 1911, the Indy 500 has become an American tradition and is billed as “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Today it is one of the most significant auto races in the world.
In 1909, an investment team led by entrepreneur and automobile dealer Carl Graham Fisher purchased 320 acres of farmland outside Indianapolis, Indiana, with the intention of creating a speedway for both racing competitions and private testing. After a series of motorcycle and automotive races at the new speedway, Fisher decided to focus on a single event, an ambitious 500-mile race to be held on Memorial Day.
On May 30, 1911, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosted the first Indianapolis 500. Around 80,000 spectators watched Ray Harroun beat 39 other drivers with a time of 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 8 seconds in a car manufactured by the Indianapolis-based Marmon Motor Car Company and nicknamed the “Wasp” for its yellow paint and long, aerodynamic tail. Harroun, who designed the car, included his own invention, the rearview mirror.
The Indy 500 enjoys a prominent place in American culture, having been the subject of movies and television shows and, more recently, video games. In 2002, the Indiana state quarter also depicted an Indy-style car, the sort of open-wheeled car–a car with its wheels outside rather than below its body—long associated with the Indy 500.
Featuring stylized artwork by John Mattos, this stamp depicts Ray Harroun driving #32, the Marmon “Wasp,” the customized yellow-and-black car in which Harroun won the first Indianapolis 500 in 1911. Text along the bottom of the stamp reads “Indianapolis 500.” Small type along the bottom of the stamp opposite the year 2011 reads “100 YEARS OF RACING.”
The Marmon “Wasp” was also featured on a 17.5-cent stamp in the Transportation series in 1987.
The Pioneers of American Industrial Design stamp pane honors 12 of the nation’s most important and influential industrial designers. Encompassing everything from furniture and electric kitchen appliances to corporate office buildings and passenger trains, the work of these designers helped shape the look of everyday life in the 20th century. The stamps go on sale in July.
Industrial design is the study and creation of products whose appearance, function, and construction have been optimized for human use. It emerged as a profession in the U.S. in the 1920s but really took hold during the Depression. Faced with decreasing sales, manufacturers turned to industrial designers to give their products a modern look that would appeal to consumers. Characterized by horizontal lines and rounded, wind-resistant shapes, the new, streamlined looks differed completely from the decorative extravagance of the 1920s. They evoked a sense of speed and efficiency and projected the image of progress and affluence the public desired.
Consumer interest in modern design continued to increase after World War II, when machines allowed corporations to mass produce vacuums, hair dryers, toasters, and other consumer goods at low cost. Industrial designers helped lower costs further by exploiting inexpensive new materials like plastic, vinyl, chrome, aluminum, and plywood, which responded well to advances in manufacturing such as the use of molds and stamping. Affordable prices and growing prosperity nationwide helped drive popular demand.
Even as streamlining gave way to new looks in the 1960s, the groundbreaking work of industrial designers continued to transform the look of homes and offices across the country. Today, industrial design remains an integral component of American manufacturing and business, as well as daily life.
Frederick Hurten Rhead
Walter Dorwin Teague
Norman Bel Geddes
Greta von Nessen
Art director Derry Noyes selected objects designed by 12 of the nation’s most important and influential industrial designers to feature on this colorful pane of self-adhesive stamps. The selvage features a photograph of the “Airflow” fan designed by Robert Heller around 1937. Denis Farley photographed the fan for The Macdonald Stewart Foundation.
Each stamp includes the designer’s name, the type of object, and the year or years when the object was created. The pane’s verso includes a brief introduction to the history and importance of American industrial design, as well as text that identifies each object and briefly tells something about each designer.
The third American Scientists stamp issuance honors chemist Melvin Calvin, botanist Asa Gray, physicist Maria Goeppert Mayer, and biochemist Severo Ochoa. The stamps go on sale June 16.
Melvin Calvin was the first scientist to trace in detail the process of photosynthesis and conducted pioneering research on using plants as an alternative energy source. He won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1961.
Asa Gray, one of the first professional botanists in the United States, advanced the specialized field of plant geography and became the principal American advocate of evolutionary theory in the mid-nineteenth century.
Maria Goeppert Mayer developed a theoretical model that helped explain the structure of the atomic nucleus; for this work she became the only woman other than Marie Curie to win a Nobel Prize in physics.
Severo Ochoa, a biochemist, was the first scientist to synthesize ribonucleic acid (RNA) and competed in the race to decipher the genetic code. Ochoa won the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1959.
For each stamp in this block of four, art director Ethel Kessler collaborated with Greg Berger of Bethesda, MD, to create a collage featuring a photograph and signature of the scientist, along with items such as equations and diagrams that are associated with the scientist’s research.
With the 27th stamp in the Literary Arts series, the Postal Service honors Mark Twain, author of beloved works such as Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, widely considered one of the greatest novels in American literature. The stamp goes on sale in June. In this tale of an abused boy and a runaway slave who become friends while riding a raft down the Mississippi River, Twain addressed issues of race and racism in America with a frankness that is still startling more than a hundred years later.
He was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in the small village of Florida, MO. As a young man, he worked at various jobs; his time as a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi gave Clemens the name under which he later became famous. Big steamboats needed about 12 feet of water—two fathoms, or “mark twain” in the cry of the leadsman who measured the river’s depth—to float safely.
Other works by this prolific writer include The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), a celebration of a mythic American boyhood; A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889), a novel that satirized aspects of both the Middle Ages and the 19th century; Pudd’nhead Wilson (1894), a novel detailing the complications that ensue after a slave mother switches her baby with that of her master; and Life on the Mississippi (1883), beautifully evoking the river of Twain’s youth.
Art director and designer Phil Jordan used work by stamp artist Gregory Manchess, who based his portrait of Twain, in oil paints on a board, on a photograph taken around 1907 by Underwood & Underwood of New York, now in the collection of the Library of Congress. The stamp background evokes several of Twain’s works set along the Mississippi River of his youth.
With this stamp, the Postal Service commemorates Owney, the canine mascot of the Railway Mail Service. The stamp goes on sale July 27. Beloved of clerks on mail-sorting trains at the end of the nineteenth century, Owney was hailed as a symbol of good luck. Today he is an icon of American postal lore whose story highlights the historical importance of the Railway Mail Service.
Developed during the 19th century, the Post Office Department’s Railway Mail Service was an efficient and decentralized way to process mail by sorting it aboard moving trains, an innovation that became increasingly important after the Civil War. In the 1880s, during the height of the Railway Mail Service, a dog, likely a terrier mix, appeared in the Post Office in Albany, New York. Clerks took a liking to him and named him Owney. Fond of riding in postal wagons, Owney followed mailbags onto trains and soon became a good-luck charm to Railway Mail Service employees, who made him their unofficial mascot. Working in the Railway Mail Service was highly dangerous; according to the National Postal Museum, more than 80 mail clerks were killed in train wrecks and more than 2,000 were injured between 1890 and 1900. However, it was said that no train ever met with trouble while Owney was aboard.
The stamp art features a new illustration of Owney by artist Bill Bond of Arlington, VA. The illustration depicts Owney in profile, facing left, with many of his famous tags and medals gleaming in the background.
Since the founding of the republic, the United States has looked to the commercial maritime industry for much of its growth and security. This stamp issuance pays tribute to the U.S. Merchant Marine, the modern name for the maritime fleet that has played this vital role. The four-stamp design on this pane features types of vessels that have formed an important part of this history: clipper ships, auxiliary steamships, Liberty ships, and container ships. The stamps go on sale in July.
Illustrator Dennis Lyall of Norwalk, CT, created the stamps under the art direction of Phil Jordan of Falls Church, VA.
Since colonial times, America’s merchant ships have plied the oceans and other navigable waters conveying goods and passengers. During wartime, they have also helped deliver troops and war materials. This role was formalized shortly before World War II, when legislation empowered the "U.S. Merchant Marine" to serve as a naval auxiliary unit. During World War II, the U.S. Merchant Marine bore the brunt of delivering military supplies overseas to U.S. forces and allies. Today, it continues to help meet the nation’s security needs while also transporting commodities that sustain the American economy.
A sunlit painting by Edward Hopper is the tenth entry in the American Treasures stamp series. The Long Leg, painted in oil on canvas around 1930, depicts a boat sailing against the wind near Provincetown, MA. The stamp goes on sale in August.
Hopper was a very private man and an experienced sailor. The Long Leg allowed him to combine his love of the sea with his interest in architecture. The lighthouse in the painting is Long Point Light, at Provincetown. This work shows the artist’s characteristic use of light to insulate objects.
Art director Derry Noyes chose a sunlit painting by Edward Hopper for this tenth entry in the American Treasures series.
The Long Leg is in the collection of the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, in San Marino, California. It is painted in oil on canvas; its size is 20 x 30 ¼ inches. The painting has been cropped for use in the stamp art.
The American Treasures series was inaugurated in 2001. It is intended to showcase beautiful works of American fine art and crafts.
The Postal Service continues its Flags of Our Nation series with ten more stamp designs that feature the flags of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the states of Ohio through Tennessee. The stamps go on sale Aug. 11.
In addition to the flag art, each stamp design includes artwork that provides a “snapshot view” of the state or other area represented by a particular flag. In most cases, an everyday scene or activity is shown, but occasionally the view is of something less commonplace—rare wildlife, perhaps, or a stunning vista. Unlike some previous multi-stamp issuances, this series is not limited to official animals, flowers, or products, nor is it meant to showcase well-known buildings, landmarks, or monuments.
Artist Tom Engeman, a resident of Bethany Beach, Del., created the highly detailed flag portraits and snap show views on the stamps. Over the years, the artist’s colorful and imaginative designs have appeared on many Postal Service products, including the National World War II Memorial stamp (2004) and the nation’s first Forever Stamp (2007).
Since 1986, Pixar films have stretched the boundaries of our imagination with stories about unlikely heroes who explore the bonds of friendship and family. Now some of those heroes are the subjects of colorful new Send a Hello stamps that encourage people to connect with loved ones through the mail.
The Send a Hello stamps, which go on sale Aug. 19, are a natural outgrowth of the Art of Disney stamp series issued between 2004 and 2008. Originally intended as a series of three annual issuances depicting friendship, celebration, and romance, the Art of Disney stamps proved so popular that the Postal Service expanded the series to include issuances in 2007 and 2008 to celebrate imagination and magic.
Based on that success, the Postal Service was eager to work with the Walt Disney Company again, choosing to explore the Disney*Pixar films, which offer exciting, contemporary characters and strong themes involving family and friends.
This pane of 20 stamps includes five different designs featuring Pixar characters: Lightning McQueen and Mater from Cars (2006); Remy the rat and Linguini from Ratatouille (2007); Buzz Lightyear and two of the green, three-eyed aliens from Toy Story (1995); Carl Fredricksen and Dug from Up (2009); and the robot WALL*E from WALL*E (2008).
Since the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature was introduced in 2001, all seven Pixar films released since that time have been nominated and five of the seven have won, including Ratatouille, WALL*E and Up.
In 2011, the U.S. Postal Service will issue the Wedding Roses stamp as part of its Weddings series. The stamp is meant for use on the RSVP envelope often enclosed with a wedding invitation and on announcements, thank-you notes, and other correspondence. The stamp goes on sale in August.
Wedding ceremonies are as varied and distinctive as the people who celebrate them. They range from large formal services held inside to small and informal outdoor gatherings—and everything in between. Yet no matter the size and style of the ceremony, one thing remains certain: Weddings are a celebration of the union of two people who have pledged to love and trust one another as they begin a new life together.
The Wedding Roses stamp features a photograph taken by Renée Comet of Washington, D.C. The photograph shows two white roses gently resting atop a piece of wedding correspondence. A white ribbon is visible in the background.
With the 34th stamp in the Black Heritage series, the Postal Service honors Barbara Jordan, one of the most respected and influential American politicians of the 20th century. The stamp goes on sale in September.
Her prodigious list of “firsts” includes being the first African- American woman elected to the Texas legislature, the first African- American elected to the Texas State Senate since 1883, and the first African-American woman elected to the U.S. Congress from the South.
She captured the attention and admiration of the nation with her intelligence and integrity, her ardent patriotism and steadfast dedication to public service, and her eloquent oratory and charismatic leadership.
Staunchly determined to help extend social justice and federal protection of equal rights to all American citizens, Jordan dedicated her life to working for the benefit of others and her legacy will carry on for generations to come.
In 1976, Jordan became the first woman and the first African-American to deliver a keynote address to the Democratic National Convention. Her televised speech—considered the highlight of the convention—described Americans as “a people in search of a national community…attempting to fulfill our national purpose, to create and sustain a society in which all of us are equal.” Once again, Barbara Jordan’s message resonated throughout the country.
Jordan ultimately served three terms in Congress, sponsoring and supporting numerous pieces of legislation extending federal protection of civil rights. Her record of success ensured social justice and equal rights for more American citizens.
In 1979, Jordan became a professor of public affairs and ethics at the University of Texas at Austin, where she quickly earned a stellar reputation as an extraordinarily inspiring and challenging professor. She was such a popular teacher, in fact, that student lotteries were held to make the final determination on enrollment in her classes. In 1982, Jordan was appointed to the university’s Lyndon B. Johnson Centennial Chair in National Policy.
Throughout the years, Jordan continued to keep up with politics and national affairs and was a much sought-after lecturer. In 1987 she testified against the confirmation of Robert H. Bork to the U.S. Supreme Court, and in 1992 she was a keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention in New York City. In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed Jordan chair of the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform, a post she held until her death.
During her lifetime Barbara Jordan received many prestigious honors and awards, including the 1984 Eleanor Roosevelt Humanities Award, the 1990 Harry S. Truman Public Service Award, the 1992 NAACP Spingarn Medal, and the 1993 Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights. In 1994, President Clinton presented Jordan with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, our nation’s highest civilian honor.
In 1984, Jordan was elected to the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame. She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1990 and the African-American Hall of Fame in 1993. Also in 1993, she was named one of the most influential American women of the 20th century by the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
The portrait featured on the stamp is an oil painting by award-winning artist Albert Slark of Ajax, Ontario, Canada. Slark based his portrait on an undated black-and-white photograph of Jordan.
With this stamp sheet, the Postal Service honors Romare Bearden, one of the 20th century’s most distinguished American artists. The stamps go on sale in September. Bearden is celebrated for his groundbreaking approach to collage along with his work in watercolors, oils, and other media. His art has been praised for depicting African-American experience in its full dimensionality and is in the permanent collections of major museums across the nation.
Art director Derry Noyes chose a different work by Bearden for each of four stamp designs. In order as they appear on the sheet from left to right, in four vertical columns of four stamps apiece, the works depicted are described below.
Conjunction (1971), a collage of various fabrics with crayon and charcoal on canvas, is a large work showing a Southern social scene, reflecting Bearden’s recollections of his early childhood in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. The work celebrates the human activity of connecting through touch and conversation, and pays homage to the Southern quilt-making tradition suggested by the fabrics of the women’s brightly patterned dresses. It is reproduced in the stamp art from a transparency provided by the Romare Bearden Foundation.
Odysseus: Poseidon, The Sea God—Enemy of Odysseus (1977), a collage of various papers with foil, paint, ink, and graphite on fiberboard, is one of many images by Bearden based on literary sources. Poseidon was the archenemy of Odysseus in Homer’s epic poem, The Odyssey; his image here combines mythic qualities with multicultural crosscurrents to suggest a larger narrative revealing a deep exploration of the human condition. This work is part of the Thompson Collection, in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Prevalence of Ritual: Conjur Woman (1964), a collage of various papers with foil, ink, and graphite on cardboard, is one of a series of important collages from 1964. The power and dignity of the black woman was a central theme in Bearden’s art, and the spiritual and mysterious “conjur” woman was a recurring subject. Bearden’s repeated use and reinvention of motifs finds a parallel in the theme and variation of jazz music, which was an important influence on the artist. This piece is in the collection of an anonymous lender.
Falling Star (1979), is a collage of various papers with paint, ink, and graphite on fiberboard. This image juxtaposes the ordinary, a domestic interior, with the marvelous, as seen through its windows. The falling star is a metaphor with a variety of references in art, literature, and music, and Bearden embraces these multiple meanings for the enrichment they provide to his own art. The process of layering these meanings serves as a metaphor for human experience. This work is in a private collection.
The Postal Service’s cheery Holiday stamps for 2011 feature four colorful ornaments sure to add to the joys of the season. These festive baubles may also inspire fond memories of beloved ornaments from childhood—objects that still have the power to enchant us today. The stamps go on sale Oct. 13.
Evergreen trees and branches have been used as winter holiday decorations for hundreds of years. Trees were trimmed with fruit—apples were a popular choice—and nuts, candies, or paper. Glass ornaments first appeared in the late 19th century, in Germany, and their use quickly spread to other countries.
While styles from the 1950s inspired the ornaments depicted in the stamp art, sincere wishes for happy holidays never go out of fashion. These stamps offer a fashionably “retro” way to enhance the season’s greetings.
The U.S. Postal Service’s cheery Holiday stamps for 2011 feature four colorful ornaments sure to add to the joys of the season. Linda Fountain, an illustrator located in Hilton Head Island, SC, created the ornaments shown in the stamp art. Drawing on styles popular during the 1950s, she first sketched the ornaments then rendered them using them cut paper. These renderings were scanned and turned into digital files. The actual art objects are slightly larger than a sheet of typing paper.
The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses, and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.
For more information and low-resolution images on the stamps in the 2011 series, visit USPS Newsroom at usps.com/news.
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A self-supporting government enterprise, the U.S. Postal Service is the only delivery service that reaches every address in the nation, 150 million residences, businesses and Post Office Boxes. The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses, and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations. With 32,000 retail locations and the most frequently visited website in the federal government, usps.com, the Postal Service has annual revenue of more than $67 billion and delivers nearly 40 percent of the world’s mail. If it were a private sector company, the U.S. Postal Service would rank 29th in the 2010 Fortune 500. Black Enterprise and Hispanic Business magazines ranked the Postal Service as a leader in workforce diversity. The Postal Service has been named the Most Trusted Government Agency six consecutive years and the sixth Most Trusted Business in the nation by the Ponemon Institute.