The U.S. Postal Service scheduled eight releases featuring stamps with 10 face values for the first month of 2023. This month, we’ll take a quick look at two high-value stamps scheduled for release January 22 that continue a high-value series that began 15 years ago. This article was produced before the stamps were issued, but the following is what we knew at press time.
The Florida Everglades and Great Smoky Mountain stamps will accommodate new postage rates for Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express flat-rate envelopes, respectively.
These are the 28th and 29th issues in the American Landmarks series that began in 2008 with the $4.80 Mount Rushmore (Scott 4268) and $16.50 Hoover Dam (Scott 4269) stamps. All of the stamps feature original artwork by Dan Cosgrove. Greg Breeding was art director for both stamps.
The new stamps were to be issued without formal ceremonies January 22, the day the new postal rates go into effect. The Great Smoky Mountains stamp will carry a first day location of Gatlinburg, Tennessee while the Everglades stamp will carry a first day city of Homestead, Florida.
The Great Smoky Mountains stamp has a bit of a quirky publicity history. If you notice the image shown here, the stamp has a denomination of $26.95. That is the rate of basic Priority Mail Express that was set with rate changes of a year ago and the issuance of the $26.95 Palace of Fine Arts stamp.
That denomination as shown here was adjusted in the printing process for the Florida Everglades stamp to reflect the new rate of $28.75, which went into effect January 22. In early January, the online USPS sales site showed the stamp with a $28.75 value.
To add to the oddity, however, even the $26.95 denomination shown on this publicity image was not the correct rate as 2022 drew to a close. Last fall – effective October 2 – the USPS raised the rates for Priority Mail Express to $27.90 but issued no new stamp as it was a “temporary” rate change.
The Great Smoky Mountains stamp shows a red-railed hawk flying above the mountains near Newfound Gap, between Gatlinburg, Tennessee and Cherokee, North Carolina. “Home to the most visited national park in the United States, the Great Smoky Mountains boast extensive national forests and a vast array of native plants and animals,” the USPS said. “Equally rich in history, folkways and culture, they are an American treasure.”
The Florida Everglades and Great Smoky Mountains are depicted on the latest stamps in the American Landmarks series.
The new Priority Mail stamp honors the wetlands that spans some 2 million acres in southern Florida, from Lake Okeechobee to Florida Bay. The Everglades is one of the largest wetlands in the world and the most significant breeding ground for tropical wading birds in North America.
The new stamp celebrates the Everglades with art that shows a sawgrass marsh as seen at sunset from the edge of a cypress dome.
The denomination is $9.65, which drops last fall’s “temporary” rate of $9.90 by 25 cents for a basic Priority Mail flat-rate envelope.
Most years since this series started, there have been two stamps issued to accommodate the Priority Mail rates, though only one was issued in 2011 and 2021; there were three in 2014; and none in 2015.
The Postal Service has previously stated that all of Cosgrove’s artwork has been completed but has not offered a hint as to when the American Landmarks series will conclude.
The stamps were likely produced in panes of four, though the U.S. Postal Service’s Stamp Fulfillment Service center sometimes accommodates collectors by allowing single-stamp purchases through a special code for online ordering (https://aps.buzz/USPSbuystamps) or by a direct call. Those details were unavailable at press time, but I would urge customers interested in ordering single high-value stamps to call the USPS customer service number (1-800-782-6724) to inquire.