Three special rate stamps – two with high values – were issued in February by the U.S. Postal Service.
First were a couple of low-value nonprofit coil stamps featuring flowers, a constant theme during the first few months of 2022. The month also brought two new stamps carrying the highest denominations in the U.S. postal program.
The stamps, which have a very familiar look, satisfy the new flat-rate envelope rates for Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express rates, which now stand at $8.95 and $26.95, respectively. The Priority Mail rate rose 50 cents on January 9; the Express rate rose 60 cents.
The design for the new stamps is again by Dan Cosgrove, whose artwork has been used on the high-value American Landmarks definitives starting in 2008. This brings the total number of stamps in the series to 29. There also are some high-value prepaid envelopes that duplicate the stamps’ designs.
Nonprofit Butterfly Garden Flowers
Figure 1. The Butterfly Garden Flowers stamp with a plate number on the front.
Figure 2. The counting number on the back of a Butterfly Garden Flowers stamp from the roll of 10,000. Counting numbers were devised to help keep track of stock.
If you’re among those who live where spring and its beautiful colors come a little late in the season, the U.S. Postal Service is giving you plenty of opportunity to brighten your mail with flowers.
On February 1, the Postal Service issued the first two of nine flower stamps it will release this year. Seven more flowers stamps will be released in March. The first two – Butterfly Garden Flowers – are nondenominated nonprofit coil stamps in adjacent designs sold in coils of 3,000 and 10,000 (Figure 1). The stamps, meant to be used in bulk nonprofit mailings, are valued at 5 cents. The stamps have a formal first day city of Pine Mountain, Georgia.
Art director Antonio Alcalá designed the stamps with original artwork from Rigel Stuhmiller.
Butterfly gardening plays a vital role in preserving butterfly populations; the USPS said the stamps recognize the importance of these beautiful creatures in biosystems great and small.
With recent interest in supporting pollinators, butterfly gardening as a hobby has taken off. The requirements for a successful butterfly garden are few: plenty of sun, the right kinds of plants and no pesticides. The garden can be as small as a few containers on a sunny patio or as large as acres of land in the country or in a city park.
The stamps show colorful illustrations of the cosmos or scabiosas flowers, which butterflies love to visit. Scabiosas are called pincushion flowers because they resemble a pincushion loaded with needles. Cosmos, also known as the Mexican aster, grow on a sprawling plant that produces a profusion of blossoms.
Stuhmiller is a printmaker and illustrator living in California’s beautiful Bay Area. She used a combination of traditional and digital tools to create the art. After hand-carving the images into linoleum blocks, she inked the blocks and pressed them onto paper. The artist then scanned the images into the computer and added color digitally. As in most traditional block printing, the color palette is limited.
Stuhmiller says on her website that she tries to “capture the beauty, curiosity and wonder I see in the world” and that her artwork can be found online in more than 500 museums, botanic gardens, and boutiques across the country. Her client list includes the Metropolitan Museum of Art Paper Store, Pier 1, Barilla Pasta, Williams-Sonoma and the band Cake.
Pine Mountain is home to the Callaway Resort and Gardens, which includes the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center, where typically 1,000 or more butterflies flutter freely about in one of North America’s largest tropical butterfly conservatories, according to the Callaway website. The center presents an opportunity to learn about the plants needed to attract adult butterflies, which plants the caterpillars need to survive, and many other do’s and don’ts to ensure successful butterfly gardening.
Banknote Corporation of America printed the stamps on the Alprinta 74 press. The size of the stamp (0.87 inches by 0.98 inches) and the stamp image (0.73 by 0.84) are the same for each coil.
Collectors can order smaller strips of 25 from each coil, with a limit of four strips. Collectors should use these item numbers to order: 750803 for a strip of 25 from the coil of 3,000; and 761003 for a strip of 25 from the coil of 10,000. You have to call (1-844-737-7826) to order these as they are not available through the quarterly USPS USA Philatelic catalog.
No matter which coil you receive, the fronts of the stamps will look the same, with the plate number B1111 on the front. But the back liner paper will have either a four-digit number (from the coils of 3,000) or a five-digit counting number (from the coils of 10,000) on every 10th stamp (Figure 2).
Monument Valley – Priority Mail
Figure 3. Technical details and purchasing information for the Monument Valley Priority Mail stamp are available from here.
The $8.95 Priority Mail stamp celebrates Monument Valley, an iconic landscape of the American West in southeastern Utah (Figure 3). Reminiscent of a vintage travel poster, the stamp art emphasizes the vast stone formations of Monument Valley while highlighting the vivid colors of the sky, the land and the area’s distinctive plant life, the Postal Service said.
The digital illustration is based on photographs from Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, including a view facing northwest at sunrise, which shows several of the area’s magnificent sandstone buttes.
Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamp with original art by Dan Cosgrove. The stamps were printed on nonphosphored Type III paper on the Mueller A76 press by Ashton Potter USA, in Williamsville, New York. The stamps are being sold in panes of four.
The stamp’s official release was February 14 in Monument Valley, though no national first day of issue ceremony was held.
The stamp is part of the American Landmarks series which since 2008 have been found on stamps meeting the rates for Priority and Priority Express mail. All the artwork has been created by Cosgrove.
The area has been used as a backdrop many times on the big screen. Two of the most iconic movies filmed at Monument Valley include Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West, and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, both released in 1968. Many other films have featured scenes from the park, including Forrest Gump, The Lone Ranger and Easy Rider.
Palace of Fine Arts – Priority Mail Express
Figure 4. Technical details and purchasing information for the Palace of Fine Arts Priority Mail Express stamp are available from here.
The new $26.95 Palace of Fine Arts stamp (Figure 4) now claims its spot as the highest-valued postage stamp ever issued by the United States. The stamp is valued 60 cents more than the $26.35 Grand Island Ice Caves stamp issued January 18, 2020.
The stamp features a digital illustration showing the rotunda and part of the colonnades of the Palace of Fine Arts, with a small lagoon in the foreground. Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamp with original art by Dan Cosgrove.
The pressure-sensitive adhesive stamp is being sold in panes of four and was formally issued February 14 in San Francisco. This celebrates the Palace of Fine Arts, an iconic architectural landmark in the Marina District of San Francisco that has long been a source of pride for local residents and an attraction for visitors from around the world.
The Palace of Fine Arts was originally constructed to exhibit artworks at the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition. It was completely rebuilt from 1964 to 1974 and is the only structure from the exposition that survives on site.
Most of the exposition buildings were demolished at the fair’s end, but the Palace was saved. Over the years, the structure held a continuous art exhibit, lighted tennis courts, a World War II-era motor pool, a city warehouse, telephone book distribution center and home for the fire department.
Although saved from initial demolition the structure was unstable because it had built by non-durable materials. The original Palace was demolished in 1964 except for the steel skeleton of the exhibit hall. The buildings were reconstructed in a project that lasted until 1974. All the decorations and sculpture were constructed anew.