On August 1 — the opening day of StampShow 2019 in Omaha, Nebraska — the U. S. Postal Service will issue four new Military Working Dogs stamps (“Forever” priced at the domestic first-class mail rate, currently 55¢), in a pressure-sensitive adhesive commemorative booklet of 20 stamps. The booklet may not be split and the stamps may not be sold individually, according to the USPS, which first announced the stamps on January 29. Each block of four stamps features one of each of the following breeds of brave and loyal military working dogs serving in America’s armed forces: a German shepherd, a Labrador retriever, a Belgian Malinois and a Dutch shepherd. The background of each stamp features a white star. A star appears in the center of each block. The stylized digital illustrations are in red, white, blue and gold to represent the American flag and patriotism. The art was created by DKNG Studios, “a creative studio based in Los Angeles, California, with our roots in the music and entertainment industries.” Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamps for the USPS.
Dogs have had places of pride on U.S. stamps since commemoratives were first issued 126 years ago. On the 1893 30¢ Columbian (Scott 239) a large dog snoozes at the feet of ship-owner Martin Alonso Pinson while Columbus makes his pitch, while a panting terrier guards keeps watch over the flank of the Western Mining Prospector on the 50¢ Trans-Mississippi (Scott 291).
Poring over the 2019 Scott U.S. Specialized catalog, I counted at least 40 U.S. stamps depicting dogs — more than double the number on Scott’s Subject lists — and I’m sure I missed a few. Stamp traditionalists who have squawked about the look of this new canine quartet should refresh themselves with a look back at working dog stamps already in the American album.
The first of these was the German shepherd in a seeing eye dog harness designed by art director Joseph Csatari, a contemporary and salaried copyist of Norman Rockwell, in the 15¢ “Seeing For Me” issue of 1979 ( Scott 1787). His painting of the dog walking attentively alongside his sightless master is touching and well rendered.
The first solo U.S. working dog stamp was this 15¢ “Seeing For Me” issue of 1979.
The most distinctive working canines may be sled dogs, shown on three U.S. commemoratives: a 1959 4¢ Antarctic Explorations issue (Scott 1128); the 1986 22¢ Antarctic Explorers stamp picturing Robert E. Peary and Matthew Henson (Scott 2223); and the 42¢ Alaskan Statehood 50th Anniversary stamp of 2009 (Scott 4374). Collectors who wonder whether engraved, photogravure or lithographic images make the best stamps have all three to compare from a span of 50 years here, plus a 1986 17¢ Dog Sled Transportation coil definitive (Scott 2135).
It has only been seven years since the Postal Service released four se-tenant 65¢ Dogs at Work stamps by veteran designer Howard E. Paine for large greeting card envelopes that required additional postage (Scott 4604-07). These used realistic paintings to portray a seeing-eye dog, a therapy dog , a military tracking dog and a rescue dog. Many people liked these, perhaps for the range of important jobs and popular breeds that they represented.
Dogs at Work were featured on these four 65¢ stamps issued in 2012 (Scott 4604–07).
As for McGruff the Crime Dog, urging citizens to “take a bite out of crime” on a 20¢ cartoon stamp from 1984 (Scott 2102), I leave you to decide whether he should be included or not.
Customers have 120 days to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmark for Military Working Dogs stamps by mail. You may purchase new stamps at their post office or at usps.com/shop, affix the stamps to addressed envelopes of your choice and place them in a larger envelope with sufficient postage addressed to:
FDOI — Military Working Dogs Stamps
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. Orders must be postmarked by December 1, 2019.