Every month, senior editor Jeff Stage provides readers of The American Philatelist with all the details of the latest U.S. releases — but every month, some of that information has to be cut for space. No longer. Now APS members can read the unabridged version of New U.S. Issues right here on stamps.org. Enjoy!
Nature rules on stamps with new waterfalls, birds
The month of June was an unusually quiet one for new releases from the U.S. Postal Service with only one new issue of postage stamps, an attractive pane of waterfalls on 12 stamps. There was, however, the release of the annual federal duck stamp, which is a popular collectible, plus I will offer a glimpse at this year’s only expected pre-stamped envelope, which was released in July.
Federal duck stamps – officially the migratory bird hunting and conservation stamps – are mandatory for hunters and have raised millions of dollars since 1934 for wetlands conservation. Anyone familiar with duck stamps is quite familiar with the name of the artist whose work appears on the new stamp.
Although the self-stick Waterfalls stamps were issued at the rate of 63 cents, the new postage rate went into effect July 9 and those stamps now cost 66 cents ($7.92 for the pane).
The pane of Waterfalls stamps can be purchased from the USPS Postal Store and APS member dealers.
Pure water is clear, but when it flows with force, it can bubble and foam into a white, frothy appearance, which can certainly be dramatic. But throw in the trained eyes and talents of award-winning nature photographers who know how to capture colors cast by sunlight or reflections from surroundings such as moss, colored rocks or fall foliage, and you can have stunning images of nature.
Such is the case with the Waterfalls pane of 12 First Class domestic Forever stamps formally issued June 13 in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.
Shown on the stamps are natural waterfalls in all shapes and sizes, from serene cascades to mighty cataracts.
Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamps and pane with existing photographs from nine photographers focused on waterfalls found in 12 states.
Each stamp features a photograph with the name of the waterfall and state in which it is located beneath it. Images shown and the photographers on the stamps are, by row, from left:
First row: Deer Creek Falls, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, photo by Sandra Woods; Nevada Fall, Yosemite National Park, California, photo by Quang-Tuan Luong; Harrison Wright Falls, Ricketts Glen State Park, Pennsylvania, photo by Kenneth Keifer; and Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, photo by Keifer.
Second row: Waimoku Falls, Haleakalā National Park, Hawaii, photo byLuong; Stewart Falls, Mount Timpanogos Wilderness, Utah, photo by Nicole Nugent; Niagara Falls, Niagara Falls State Park, New York, photo by John Cancalosi; and Dark Hollow Falls, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, photo by Luong.
Third row: Grotto Falls, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennesee, photo by Joe Miller; Sunbeam Falls, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington, photo by Kevin Schafer; LaSalle Canyon Waterfall, Starved Rock State Park, Oglesby, Illinois, photo by David B. Vernon; and Upper Falls, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina, photo by Tim Fitzharris.
Luong’s photos appear on three stamps; Keifer’s on two. Framing the stamps is selvage that again features another angle of LaSalle Canyon by Vernon.
Ashton Potter (USA) Ltd. of Williamsville, N.Y., printed a total of 34,992,000 Waterfalls stamps that were finished into 2,916,000 panes of 12. Ashton Potter printed the stamps using offset lithography.
It’s impossible to review all of the photos and photographers in this short space, but I will offer the following about one of them, Quang-Tuan Luong, an innovative, award-winning photographer born in 1964 of Vietnamese parents in Paris. A previous photo from Luong – that of the Little Missouri River winding through the badlands of North Dakota’s Theodore Roosevelt National Park – is part of the 2016 stamps celebrating the National Park Service’s Centennial.
Luong, who in 2022 received the Ansel Adams Award for Conservation Photography from the Sierra Club, earned a Ph.D. in computer science in 1992 from the University of Paris-Sud in 1992. His thesis was in computer vision. In 2008, he shared the initial Koenderink Prize for fundamental contributions in computer vision with two colleagues.
Luong first became interested in photography during mountaineering outings, which included frozen waterfalls and a solo ascent of Denali.
“In the mid-1980s, my life was transformed by the wilderness of mountains,” Luong says on the website Terragalleria.com. “As a climber, and then a mountain guide, I was initially interested in photography as a means to communicate to people who weren’t there the wonders I had seen on the high peaks of the Alps.”
He moved took a job at University of California at Berkeley in 1993 and learned to use large-format cameras for and soon began photographing U.S. national parks.
In 2002, he photographed all the then-57 national parks.
“As I fell in love with the diversity of the national parks, I set out for a monumental nature photography project that had not been completed by anyone: photographing all of them on large format film,” said the photographer on Terragalleria. “I made my home in the San Francisco Bay area. Years of outdoor adventuring experience proved useful when exploring the backcountry of many parks, occasionally hiking in trail-less terrain with a 70 pounds backpack and paddling kayaks or canoes during extended expeditions.”
In 2009, Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan featured Luong as the only living artist in the film, “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” and used his photograph, “Yosemite, Winter Sunset,” for the series’ cover.
In 2020, Luong received the Robin W. Winks Award For Enhancing Public Understanding of National Parks from the National Parks Conservation Association.
To celebrate the National Park Service Centennial in 2016, Luong released his signature book, “Treasured Lands: A Photographic Odyssey through America's National Parks.” It won 12 national and international awards. In 2021, Luong published the large-format photo-filled “Our National Monuments: America’s Hidden Gems.”
The new federal duck stamp and junior duck stamp are available from the USPS Postal Store and from APS dealer members.
The 2023-2024 federal migratory bird hunting and conservation stamp – known popularly as the duck stamp – has a very familiar name linked to it. That name is, you guessed it, Hautman.
For a sixth time, Joseph “Joe” Hautman, of Plymouth, Minnesota, won the annual open art contest that decides the artwork to appear on the stamp. Together with his brothers – Richard and James – the trio has won the contest 15 times; Joe and James now have three wins apiece while Richard has three.
A formal ceremony for the stamp was held June 23 at the Bass Pro Shops outdoor store in Memphis, Tennessee. The national junior duck stamp was issued the same day and also feted at the ceremony.
Joe Hautman’s acrylic painting of three tundra swans flying over a wetland was chosen during two days of voting last September.
Of 187 entries judged in this year’s competition, 54 entries made it to the second round of judging. The U.S> Fish and Wildlife Service administers the contest and each year chooses five species of waterfowl for the contest. Eligible species for the 2023-2024 stamp were the tundra (whistling) swan, mottled duck, American green-winged teal, American wigeon and Barrow’s goldeneye.
Frank Mittelstadt of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, placed second with his acrylic painting of tundra swans, and Robert Hautman, of Delano, Minnesota, took third place with his acrylic painting of an American wigeon. Other former Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest winners who participated in the 2022 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest were Mark Anderson, Adam Grimm, Ron Jenkins, Ron Louque, Bruce Miller, Gerald Mobley, Phil Schroeder, Joshua Spies, Bob Steiner and Scot Storm.
Joe Hautman first won in 1991 and also finished first in 2001, 2007, 2011 and 2015. (A look at the accompanying box will show you how dominant the three Hautman brothers have been in the contest over the past 35 years.)
The contest judges were Sean Murtha, artist; Richard Houk, philatelist and member of the National Duck Stamp Collectors Society; Marshall Johnson, conservation partner; Paul Schmidt, conservation partner; and Christopher Nicolai, waterfowl biologist and conservation partner.
The new $25 federal duck stamp, valid for waterfowl hunting from July 1 through June 20, 2024 can be purchased in a souvenir sheet of one or can be separated from a pane of 20.
Purchases of federal duck stamps fund habitat conservation and preservation of wetlands across the country and in U.S. territories. Since it was first established in 1934, sales of the Federal Duck Stamp to hunters, bird watchers, outdoor enthusiasts, and collectors have raised more than $1.1 billion to conserve over 6 million acres of habitat for birds and other wildlife and provide countless opportunities for wildlife-oriented recreation on our public lands.
This year’s junior duck stamp also was celebrated at the first-day ceremony. Artwork of a hooded merganser by Mila Linyue Tong, 15, of Virginia, graces the 2023-2024 junior duck stamp. The Junior Duck Stamp Program began in 1989. The first national Junior Duck Stamp Art Contest was held in 1993.
A panel of five judges chose the winning entry, painted in acrylic, from among best-of-show entries. Students from all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and two U.S. territories participated in the Federal Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program. Purchases of junior duck stamps support conservation education for youth in kindergarten through 12th grade. The stamp costs $5.
Neither stamp is valid for postage. They can be purchased through several outlets, though not every outlet has both formats. The U.S. Postal Service online store sells them as do some post offices (in single-stamp panes only) along with selected national wildlife refuges, sporting goods retailers and from Amplex Corp.
The Hautman Duck Stamp Legacy
Here are the total first-, second- and third-place finishes for each brother:
First – 6 times (1989, 1994, 1998, 2010, 2016, 2021)
2nd – 5
3rd – 2
First – 6 times (1991, 2001, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2022)
Second – 1
Third – 2
First – 3 times (1996, 2000, 2017)
Second – 4
Third – 2
A prestamped envelope featuring the northern cardinal in several formats went on sale July 9 at USPS Postal Store.
Northern Cardinal (envelope)
A familiar bird – the bright red male northern cardinal perched on the branch of a pine tree – takes flight on new July 9, gracing this year’s only new prestamped envelopes from the U.S. Postal Service.
The nondenominated envelope will cover the new first-class domestic rate of 66 cents, which takes place the day of issue. The envelope sells for 85 cents.
No ceremony was scheduled and the official first day locale is Bird City, Kansas (population 450). The community’s website touts: “We’re a small town set in the rolling wheat fields of northwest Kansas, just three hours (200 miles, east of) Denver, but light years from the stress of modern life.”
The envelope is being sold in both pressure sensitive and water activated formats on the flap. The stamps were printed using offset, Flexographic and microprint processes by Ashton Potter USA.
Sizes for both formats are the No. 10 window envelope, the No. 9 regular security envelope and the No. 6 ¾ regular envelope.
Pressure sensitive formats also include the No. 9 window security and No. 6 ¾ window envelopes; the No. 10 regular envelope is only in water activated format.
Art director Antonio Alcalá designed the stamped envelope with Kandis Vermeer Phillips’ highly realistic illustration.
Phillips is an award-winning artist who studied at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and Texas Tech University.
Phillips, according to her website, has a lifelong interest in nature which she combines with her passion for Medieval Illumination and Renaissance metalpoint drawing. She has exhibited in local and national juried shows and her works are included in private and public collections, including Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens, Washington, D.C.; The Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, Pittsburgh; The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; and the National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.
Phillips says on her website that she takes inspiration from Albert Einstein’s statement: “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”
“My drawings of birds, insects, botanicals, indeed all nature reflect that statement,” Phillips says on her website. “I am interested in capturing nature’s details, the coolness of a hawk’s beak, the gnarled, warty skin of a pelican, and the fragility of a moth’s wings. These things, whether rendered in watercolor paint, or metalpoint on paper only captures an illusion of the actual reality. I invite you to look closer at nature’s details with me.”
The northern cardinal has appeared on at least 10 U.S. stamps, most of them part of multistamp releases.
The cardinal appears six times on the 1982 State Birds and Flowers pane of 50, representing Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.
It also appears on single stamps in the Snowbirds in the Snow (2016), Birds in Winter (2018) and Winter Scenes (2020) sets of four.
The one time the cardinal got its own stamp was in 1991, with the upper part of the bird showing on a 30-cent stamp, which paid the postcard rate to Mexico. The National Postal Museum points out, though, that the stamp may have been intended to meet a disallowed request for a 30-cent first class domestic rate (The rate was raised just to 29 cents in 1991).