In what is shaping up as another busy year, the U.S. Postal Service in March released just one new stamp, and it covers a special first-class domestic rate. A small, colorful reclusive butterfly graces the stamp, the latest in an ongoing Butterfly series that provides proper postage for “non-machineable” envelopes. The Colorado Hairstreak stamp, issued in panes of 20, was officially released March 9.
The words “Non-Machineable Surcharge” on the stamp indicate its usage. Like a Forever stamp, the stamp will always be valid for the rate printed on it. The stamp’s past rate and sale price is 75 cents. That rate went into effect January 28 and reflects a 55¢ first-class postage charge plus a 20¢ non-machineable surcharge, a 5¢ increase from last year. With the USPS postage price changes as of August 29, 2021, the current value of the stamp is now 58¢ and a 30¢ non-machineable surcharge, creating a total value of 88¢, a 13¢ from the past rate.
Nationally acclaimed artist Tom Engeman, creator of every butterfly stamp in this series, digitally created the stamp design using images of preserved butterflies as a starting point. The result is a highly stylized, simplified image of a Colorado hairstreak, rather than an exact replica, which designer Derry Noyes used to create the stamp.
The official first day city was Estes Park, Colorado, which is the location named on official first day cancellations. The Colorado hairstreak is the state of Colorado’s official butterfly. The stamp was celebrated in a virtual first day ceremony via the Postal Service’s Facebook and Twitter pages and can still be viewed at http://aps.buzz/USPSFBVidButterfly.
The Colorado hairstreak lives among oak trees in that state and the rest of the Four Corners states — Arizona, New Mexico and Utah — as well as eastern Nevada, southern Wyoming and northern Mexico.
“I feel that this attractive stamp, as well as others in the series, cannot help but increase awareness in our country and possibly worldwide of our wonderful natural heritage and the need to conserve our natural world with all of its amazing biodiversity,” said Paul Opler, a professor in the department of agricultural biology at Colorado State University. Opler estimated that half of the fruits and vegetables grown in the United States depend upon pollination from insects.
Opler explained how the butterfly is known for clever adaptations, including one that prompts birds to attack its tail end. This allows the butterfly to escape mostly intact. Colorado hairstreaks have a dusky tan-gray outer wing and an inner wing that carries the vibrant purple color. “There are only a couple of other species of butterflies that are found marginally in the United States that have purple on their wings, but they are nowhere near as attractive as the Colorado hairstreak,” Opler said.
Aside from the butterfly series, Engeman has created the artwork for several other U.S. stamps, including the 60-stamp Flags of Our Nation set (2008-2012) and the first Forever stamp, which features the Liberty Bell and was issued in 2007.
This is the eighth stamp in the butterfly series. The Postal Service has not announced that there will be more designs in the series. Artists sometimes complete designs several years before they are issued as stamps.
In 2010, the Postal Service announced a working agreement with Greeting Card Association, in which butterfly stamps serve as proper postage for square or other irregularly shaped envelopes. Many of these envelopes are illustrated with the design of a butterfly stamp in the upper right corner to help guide consumers to choose the correct franking.
All of the butterfly stamps have equaled the non-machinable 1-ounce rate. A 64¢ Monarch Butterfly stamp, the first in the series, was issued May 17, 2010. The other butterflies in the set include: 65¢ Baltimore checkerspot (2012); 66¢ spicebush swallowtail (2013); and 70¢ great spangled fritillary (2014). There are also three other nondenominated stamps: the eastern tiger swallowtail (issued at 71¢, 2015); eastern tailed-blue (68¢, 2016); and the California dogface (70¢, 2019).
The first four denominated stamps in the series were printed by gravure, and the next four, all nondenominated, have been lithographed. The new stamp was printed by offset by Banknote Corporation of America’s
Alprinta 74 press.
Caption: Purchasing information and technical details about this issue are available at http://aps.buzz/BuyColoradoHairstreak.