In the world of stamp collecting, a common pastime is checking out what new stamps the USPS releases or plans to release. Every stamp design goes through an exacting and fascinating process before it's announced. A collectable stamp tells the story of a time and place. The images help us tell those stories to people in future generations, preserving that history.
Let’s take a look at two recent USPS releases. What stories do they have to tell us? Why were these themes chosen? Let's dig in and see what answers we find.
Who Loves North American Frogs?
This year, the US Postal Service issued a set of Forever stamps that featured the digital illustrations of four North American frogs. But why frogs?
"Frogs play an important role, not only in their natural habitat, but to our daily lives," says Tom Samra of the US Postal Service. "As tadpoles, they feed on algae, which helps keep our water clean, and as adults, they feed on insects, which helps to control bug populations."
The USPS has a long history of releasing nature-themed stamps, especially of species that find their home in North America. Stamps with animals or flowers are among the most popular among collectors.
There are over 4,000 species of frogs around the world, but only around 90 are found in the United States. It's about time a few of those 90 species get a bit of the limelight.
Which frogs are highlighted on these stamps?
The Pacific tree frog, also called the Pacific chorus frog, is known for its loud croaking voice. These guys are often recorded to be used in the background of nighttime scenes of movies and TV shows, which is why they have the nickname "Hollywood frog."
The American green tree frog also has a loud and distinctive call. Because they often sing the most after a rain, they are sometimes called the "rain frog."
The northern leopard frog makes an unusual rattle-like noise. Some compare it to snoring, followed by "chuckling" or "clucking."
Finally, the squirrel tree frog makes a noise that sounds like an angry gray squirrel.
The artist, Nancy Stahl, is known for her bold, dramatic, minimalistic designs, and she's done quite a few stamp designs in the past. All four frog designs are created in Stahl’s signature style. You may be familiar with it if you have a tiger stamp in your collection.
The Drawings Are On The Walls
Stamps provide a microcosm of history. They’re a record of a time and a place. Take the recent Post Office Mural stamps as an example. These five beautiful stamps show iconic post office murals as a part of U.S. mail history.
One of the murals highlighted is called Air Mail, painted by Daniel Rhodes in 1941. It displays a letter carrier helping pilots load bags of mail onto their planes. If you want to see the mural in person, you can travel to the Piggott Post Office in Arkansas. Or, you can save the trip and see its beauty preserved forever on a stamp in your collection.
The Florence, Colorado post office sports a mural known as Antelope. This mural shows (you guessed it) an antelope, or the American variant, called pronghorn.
Why did the Postal Service choose to highlight post office murals in this set? Because, as was put in the official press release for these stamps, "The Postal Service has committed to the upkeep of these classic paintings. ...and also [to] educate the public about their place in postal lore."
Every stamp in our collections, whether we’re on our first or fiftieth album, has stories to tell, share, and connect with. The APS keeps records of upcoming stamp announcements so you can see which collections will be released and where. You might be able to get your hands on a first-day release set if you live close enough to the post office where they will be issued. Getting sheets of new stamps is a great way to grow your collection or help bring new people to the hobby.
What is your favorite stamp theme? What stories interest you the most? Send us a message on social media. You never know when your favorite stamp or stamp set will be highlighted in an upcoming article!