Unveiled last November, a rainbow-hued stamp for “1969 / WOODSTOCK / 3 DAYS OF / PEACE AND MUSIC / FOREVER / USA” seemed like a good idea at the time. But the recent cancellation of a 50th anniversary concert August 16-18 that had been beset with problems almost from the start must leave some folks wondering why a stamp is being issued at all.
Shown is the colorful commemorative slated for release this year. The USPS announced the stamp would be issued in conjunction with a 50th anniversary reunion festival in Watkins Glen, New York, that fell through June 11, and then announced on July 4 that it would be issued sometime in August, giving New York City as the locale for the unidentified first day.
On July 8, another USPS Media Advisory revealed the chosen date as Thursday, August 8, at 11 a.m. at the “Play it Loud: Instruments of Rock & Roll” installation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Fifth Avenue. Opened in April, the exhibit of 130 instruments is billed as the first major art museum exhibition dedicated to the subject.
The Woodstock Music and Art Fair that took place in Bethel, New York, August 15–18, 1969, was celebrated shortly after its 30th anniversary in 1999 with a 33¢ “Woodstock” stamp in the 1960s Celebrate the Century sheet of 15 (Scott 3188b). It used the same white dove from graphic artist Arnold Skolnick’s iconic 50-year-old promotional poster that now appears on the 2019 stamp art designed by art director Antonio Alcalá.
This 33¢ Celebrate the Century 1960s stamp also used imagery from a popular Woodstock poster to commemorate the epic concert that drew 400,000 people to rural New York State.
The significance of the event in the history of modern music was sealed by superb sets from many of its 32 acts, memorialized both in recordings and an Academy Award-winning 1970 documentary film of the same name as the festival.
But while it is described by the USPS as “the most famous rock festival in history and an expression of the youth counterculture of the 1960s,” the truth is that the most widely publicized images from the four-day event were of its 400,000 young attendees, many of them bare-chested and stoned, making the best of a sea of mud. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2017, even the Woodstock Monument had to borrow from Skolnick’s poster to convey a memorably positive image.
This monument marks the site of the original 1969 Woodstock Music and Arts Festival site in Bethel, New York, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Photo courtesy of Marc Holstein, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International.
The Forever stamp will always be valued at the first-class rate, currently 55¢. Customers have until December 6 to obtain the first-day-of issue postmark by mail. They may purchase new stamps at their post office or at usps.com/shop. They must affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes (to themselves or others), and place them in a larger envelope addressed to:
FDOI — Woodstock Stamp
USPS Stamp Fulfillment Services
8300 NE Underground Drive, Suite 300
Kansas City, MO 64144-9900
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, but there is a 5¢ charge for each additional postmark over 50.