Wednesday 23 October 2019

USPS announces part of 2020 stamp issuing programme

2020 Forever Stamp Program Offers Something for Everyone

Love, Arnold Palmer, Hip Hop and Earth Day Among Subjects Featured
WASHINGTON — With 2020 rapidly approaching, the U.S. Postal Service today revealed several of the new Forever stamps and others to be issued next year.
Since 1847, the Postal Service stamp program has celebrated the people, events and cultural milestones unique to the history of the United States. The 2020 stamp subjects continue this rich tradition. The stamp designs being shown today are preliminary and subject to change.
“These miniature works of art offer something for everyone interested in American history and culture,” said U.S. Postal Service Stamp Services Acting Executive Director William Gicker. “From notable figures such as golf legend Arnold Palmer and esteemed journalist Gwen Ifill to the cultural phenomenon of hip hop to a celebration of the great outdoors, this program is wide-ranging and adds to the history of our great nation as recorded through the U.S. stamp program.”
Here’s a sneak peek:
Lunar New Year: Year of the Rat stamp
Lunar New Year: Year of the Rat
In 2020, the Postal Service is launching its third Lunar New Year series with the issuance of the Lunar New Year: Year of the Rat Forever stamp. The Year of the Rat stamp will be the first of 12 stamps in the series. The Year of the Rat observance begins Jan. 25, 2020, and ends Feb. 11, 2021. Calling to mind the elaborately decorated masks used in the dragon dance often performed in Lunar New Year parades, this three-dimensional mask depicting a rat is a contemporary take on the long tradition of paper-cut folk art crafts created during this time of year. Art director Antonio Alcalá designed the stamp with original artwork by Camille Chew.
Made of Hearts stamp
Made of Hearts
Made of Hearts is a continuation of the Postal Service tradition of creating stamps that celebrate love. The stamp features horizontal lines of red and pink hearts on a white background. Toward the center, red hearts in varying sizes replace pink hearts in a formation that creates one large red heart, the focal point of this graphic design. This stamp is just right for thank-you notes, get-well cards or any occasion when love is the perfect message. Art director Antonio Alcalá designed the stamp.
Gwen Ifill stamp
Gwen Ifill
The 43rd stamp in the Black Heritage series honors Gwen Ifill (1955–2016), one of America’s most esteemed journalists. The stamp features a photo of Ifill taken in 2008 by photographer Robert Severi. Among the first African Americans to hold prominent positions in both broadcast and print journalism, Ifill was a trailblazer in the profession. Art director Derry Noyes designed the stamp.
Let's Celebrate stamp
Let’s Celebrate!
In 2020, the Postal Service issues Let’s Celebrate!, a new stamp that adds fun to celebratory greeting cards, invitations and gift-bearing envelopes and packages. No matter the occasion — birthday, anniversary, holiday, engagement, new job, retirement — Let›s Celebrate! helps send cheer along with well wishes. The stamp features an array of colorful circles in varying sizes arranged in a random pattern. The letters in the word “celebrate,” cast in a dark green hue, appear inside several brightly colored circles on a white background. Art director Antonio Alcalá designed the stamp.
Wild Orchids stamps
Wild Orchids
The Postal Service celebrates the exotic beauty of orchids with 10 new stamps in booklets of 20 and coils of 3,000 and 10,000. Each stamp features a photograph of one of nine species that grow wild in the United States: Cypripedium californicumHexalectris spicataCypripedium reginaeSpiranthes odorataTriphora trianthophorosPlatanthera grandifloraCyrtopodium polyphyllumCalopogon tuberosus and Platanthera leucophaea. Orchids also have common names, with some plants having several different names in popular use. Art director Ethel Kessler designed the stamps with existing photographs by Jim Fowler.
Arnold Palmer stamp
Arnold Palmer
This stamp honors champion golfer Arnold Palmer (1929–2016). With drive and charisma, he helped transform a game once seen as a pastime for the elite into a sport enjoyed by the masses. The stamp features James Drake’s action photograph of Palmer at the 1964 United States Open at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, MD. Art director Antonio Alcalá designed the stamp.
Maine Statehood stamp
Maine Statehood
This stamp celebrates the 200th anniversary of Maine statehood. Nicknamed the Pine Tree State, Maine became the 23rd state in the Union on Mar. 15, 1820. American painter Edward Hopper (1882-1967) was among the many prominent artists who sought the tranquility of the state’s coastal towns during the summer. His painting “Sea at Ogunquit” (1914) captures the rugged beauty characteristic of Maine. Art director Derry Noyes designed the stamp.
Contemporary Boutonniere stamp
Contemporary Boutonniere
Contemporary Boutonniere is a new Forever stamp similar in design to the new 2-ounce Garden Corsage stamp. It can be used for wedding RSVP cards and is also perfect for party invitations, thank-you notes, announcements, birthday cards, Father’s Day cards and other occasions when a beautiful stamp is fitting. The stamp features a photograph of an arrangement of a burgundy mini-cymbidium orchid bloom, a succulent and a touch of green hydrangea, accented with loops of variegated lily grass. These materials are on trend for today’s modern designs, as arranged by floral designer Carol Caggiano and photographed by Renée Comet. Art director Ethel Kessler designed the stamp.
Garden  Corsage
Garden Corsage
The Postal Service introduces Garden Corsage, a new 2-ounce stamp. This stamp can accommodate the weight of heavy invitations for birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and other celebrations, oversize greeting cards for all occasions, and mailings such as small gifts that require extra postage. The stamp features a photograph of a corsage containing a spray of peach roses and a pink ranunculus, accented with deep-pink heather and seeded eucalyptus. A cream-colored lace ribbon entwines the flowers. Garden Corsage is similar in design to the Contemporary Boutonniere Forever stamp, and the two form a natural pair. The corsage was arranged by floral designer Carol Caggiano and photographed by Renée Comet. Art director Ethel Kessler designed the stamp.
Earth Day stamp
Earth Day
Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the Postal Service issues a stamp featuring a playful painting of the planet, with small green lines surrounding Earth and hand-lettered text. Art director Antonio Alcalá was the stamp artist and designer. Ricky Altizer was the typographer.

American Gardens                                 Great Outdoors
American Gardens
With these stamps the Postal Service celebrates the beauty of American gardens. This pane of 20 stamps features 10 different photographs of botanic, country estate and municipal gardens taken between 1996 and 2014. The gardens include: Biltmore Estate Gardens (North Carolina); Brooklyn Botanic Garden (New York); Chicago Botanic Garden (Illinois); Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens (Maine); Dumbarton Oaks Garden (District of Columbia); The Huntington Botanical Gardens (California); Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park (Florida); Norfolk Botanical Garden (Virginia); Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens (Ohio); and Winterthur Garden (Delaware). Art director Ethel Kessler designed the stamps with existing photographs by Allen Rokach.

Enjoy the Great Outdoors
With the release of the Enjoy the Great Outdoors Forever stamps, the Postal Service celebrates the many ways individuals experience America’s abundance of natural beauty. These hand-sketched and painted designs depict five different scenes of outdoor activities — building a sand castle, hiking, cross-country skiing, canoeing and biking. Art director Derry Noyes designed the stamps with original art by Gregory Manchess.

Voices of the Harlem Renaissance
These stamps celebrate one of the great artistic and literary movements in American history, the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, which firmly established African Americans as a vital force in literature and the arts. Twenty stamps showcase four stylized pastel portraits of these literary figures: writer, philosopher, educator and arts advocate Alain Locke; novelist Nella Larsen; bibliophile and historian Arturo Alfonso Schomburg; and poet Anne Spencer. African-inspired motifs are used as background elements of each portrait. The pane header shows a cityscape in silhouette with a sun in its midst and the title “Voices of the Harlem Renaissance.” The artist for these stamps was Gary Kelley. Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamps.

Hip Hop
The Postal Service celebrates hip hop with four new stamps in a pane of 20. Since its inception more than four decades ago, the electrifying music, dance and art movement has profoundly influenced American and global popular culture. The stamp art features photographs taken by Cade Martin that depict four elements of hip hop: MCing (rapping), b-boying (breakdancing), DJing and graffiti art. The bold, digitally tinted images are intended to appear in motion. The words “Forever” and “USA,” “Hip Hop,” and the name of the element featured appear across the top of each stamp. Art director Antonio Alcalá designed the stamps, which are highlighted with a vivid yellow, green, red and black color scheme. The title of the stamps, printed in red and black, is centered on the top of the pane.

Fruits & Vegetables
The Postal Service captures the classic beauty of still-life paintings in a booklet of 20 stamps featuring 10 different portraits of fruits and vegetables. Each stamp features a collection of one kind of fruit or vegetable: red and black plums, heirloom and cherry tomatoes, carrots, lemons, blueberries, red and green grapes, lettuces, strawberries, eggplants and figs. Art director Derry Noyes designed the stamps with existing art by Robert Papp.

Thank You
In 2020, the Postal Service issues four new stamps in a booklet of 20 available for notes, cards and letters of thanks sent to acknowledge a favor, an act of kindness, a job well done or gifts sent for any occasion. Highlighted in gold foil are the words “Thank you” in cursive script and an elegant floral design that swirls through and around the words. Each stamp features one of four background colors: blue gray, deep blue, muted green or soft maroon. Greg Breeding was the art director. Dana Tanamachi was the stamp designer and lettering artist.
19th Amendment: Women Vote
With this stamp, the Postal Service commemorates the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees women the right to vote. Inspired by historic photographs, the stamp features a stylized illustration of suffragists marching in a parade or other public demonstration. The clothes they wear and the banners they bear display the official colors of the National Woman’s Party — purple, white and gold. Art director Ethel Kessler designed the stamp with original art by Nancy Stahl.
Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor
Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor stamp
With this commemorative stamp, the Postal Service marks the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor. The stamp’s image is based on artwork of watercolor, acrylic and gouache, a method of painting that uses opaque pigments ground in water and thickened to a glue-like consistency. The painting was digitally refined to convey a scene of desolate beauty at the end of the Pilgrims’ long journey to an unfamiliar world. Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamp with original art by Greg Harlin.

In the absence of any news - not even embargoed news - from Royal Mail about the 2020 programme until after Christmas, there will be a few posts about what other countries have already announced. 

There is a huge difference in the way postal administrations prepare their public for the year to come. I believe that - although many Americans will be happy to use whatever stamps are available (or none) - very many more people do ask for some of the specific stamps which are available. This doesn't just apply to collectors and the many small FDC collector-producers, but people who still use stamps on business and social mail.

Royal Mail, on the other hand, despite the seemingly low impact that sales of stamps and collectables (not just to the collectors but increasingly to other targets - eg Star Wars fans) have on their bottom line, are driven by the marketing/public relations departments to delay any details of most of their new stamp issues until the last possible moment.  Whilst this is sometimes due to licensing arrangements with rights holders (to which, presumably, Royal Mail are paying considerable sums) often it is not and it is very much pot luck as to whether their press release coincides with somthing much more headline-grabbing (and we've had a few of those this year!).

The thinking seems to be that the relatively few people who care about what stamp they use among the relatively few ordinary letter writers will be influenced by publicity on the day of issue into asking specifically for those stamps when they go to the Post Office.  Where this falls down is that those people who do write letters and care which stamps they use tend to buy in batches so they will not necessarily be visiting the Post Office for each new issue.  And if they have a small stock of stamps, they won't necessarily go out of their way to buy more on a new subject.

Add to that the facts that branches operating under the 'Local' and 'Local Plus' arrangement don't stock special issues, that mobile and outreach operators often don't take them, and some Main and ex-Crown franchised operators will only take them out of the safe if asked, then the opportunity to buy is diminished.

But if you knew, for instance, that stamps would be issued to mark the bicentenary of the birth of illustrator Sir John Tenniel (Alice in Wonderland and political satire in Punch magazine) and that of Florence Nightingale, you might want to look out for them when the time came.  Likewise 1720 saw the start of Jonathan Swift's Gullivers Travels, the birth of brewer Samuel Whitbread, and the death of British pirate Calico Jack. 1770 saw the birth of William (daffodils) Wordworth, and in 1870 the first association football match between England and Scotland took place, author Charles Dickens died, and singer Marie Lloyd and author H H 'Saki' Munro were born.
(We have had one suggestion, of course, as long ago as last May.)

I could go on, but you can explore Wikipedia as easily as I can.  The point is, there is nothing to get excited about - if you still get excited about new stamps.  There's nothing even to get interested in or not one subject for which you could say - "I'll get that".  No sense of anticipation.  It's as if they think that if they keep churning out stamps people will keep taking them.  Well they won't.  The more advice notes customers are getting about their future direct debits which don't actually tell them what they are getting, the more likely they are to stop.  And there's another lot of these due very soon for the 26th November issue.

To repeat what the USPS wrote in their press release:
“These miniature works of art offer something for everyone interested in American history and culture,” said U.S. Postal Service Stamp Services Acting Executive Director William Gicker. “From notable figures such as golf legend Arnold Palmer and esteemed journalist Gwen Ifill to the cultural phenomenon of hip hop to a celebration of the great outdoors, this program is wide-ranging and adds to the history of our great nation as recorded through the U.S. stamp program.”


  1. A teenty-weeny error - the November issue is, I believe, scheduled for the 26th and certainly not [Sunday] the 24th.

    1. Thank you, I copied it straight from Royal Mail information provided after Spring Stampex - never occurred to check the date, although I ought to check everything they write!

    2. With your knowledge of issues and pictures month's in advance (Quoted on a previous blog), would that mean Ian you roughly how many issues are due out next year, and if Royal Mail have made any significant changes 1- Less issues, 2-Miniature Sheets cancelled like Post & go Stamps were stopped, 3 Smaller sized issues 4 to 6 stamps instead of 10s, 4- Be bold and tell you exactly what is coming out and put them all on Royal Mail website with dates of issue (Xmas 2019 not on their own website yet less than two weeks before issue, but appears on other sites). If the earnings of selling stamps is relatively low compared to the rest of the business why do so many? perhaps Stanley Gibbons should stop listing GB stamps. A representative at RM said if you have complaints about issues and dates write to the Sales & Marketing Dept at Tallents House.

    3. Royal Mail announce the basic programme to registered dealers at a Stampex Briefing. I don't attend, and as yet they haven't sent out the pdf version. Which is why I wrote:

      In the absence of any news - not even embargoed news - from Royal Mail

  2. Makes me glad I don't collect U.S. stamps.

    1. The volume is too great, but the basic cost of one of each is only 55c (or less depending on approval for the new rate that was halted) = £0.43. However, where they are issued in panes of 20 (even if only 1 or 4 designs such as the Hip Hop) the sales unit is a pane, so costing £8+ per issue.
      If you look at the interlaced die-cut perforations, most noticeable on the appallingly coloured 'Thank You' stamps, you will see why selling individual stamps is impossible from panes of 20 or booklets.

    2. I think the "Let's Celebrate", Hearts series and the Bouquets are a sign that USPS is thinking about general sales; as the release suggests - being able to buy sheets of an appropriate design for e.g. wedding invitations makes a better impact than we would do by using red 1st NVI. If they are available widely and for an extended period - it encourages interest. I'm reminded of the Greetings Booklets of the 1990s which morphed into Smilers and then hundreds of private sheets for the collector market. If a new version of these were available in counter sheets or half-sheets - would that attract the general customer?

    3. I presume Royal Mail have done their research on this sort of thing, but it would not surprise me - given that there are so many wedding planners and wedding shows - if the happy couple would choose relevant stamps.

      I have - only a few times - supplied stamps to brides-to-be, or pointed them to Royal Mail choices. One had about 50 of the gummed LOVE stamps from 2002. Another wanted some Leonardo da Vinci stamps and I explained that they could choose to have just one design from Royal Mail if they pushed for it.

  3. "Where this falls down is that those people who do write letters and care which stamps they use tend to buy in batches so they will not necessarily be visiting the Post Office for each new issue. And if they have a small stock of stamps, they won't necessarily go out of their way to buy more on a new subject." Speaking as one of those first group... I will get a specific new issue if I know a likely recipient (I commented about trying to buy Elton John last month) but yes, I do have a stock in hand and this is often older issues that I have bought mint on eBay at below face value.

    I agree absolutely that the approach of "Leave it to the last minute and then bang the press release out so every single local paper carries it" isn't likely to make much difference to a casual stamp-for-postage buyer and as we've seen - the likelihood of them getting a specific issue is quite variable!

  4. I really miss seeing the posters in the post offices announcing upcoming issues. When was the last poster? Classic Album covers? Doctor Who?

    I do have mostly stamps bought from the post office, but have turned to a mint stamp dealer in Galashiels on occasions. I know other Postcrossers use that dealer too.

    I had sent in suggestions to RM a while back, but they all were overlooked. Even the suggestions/poll via the survey RM carried out for this year's issues were ignored a bit. An Post seems happier to receive suggestions than Royal Mail, and even encourages it.

    Ancient Postal Routes is the Europa theme for next year. What are the chances RM will issue a stamp for it, given that this year's was National Birds, and we did have a bird issue but not marked Europa?

    I do like USPS announcing the stamp program this early. You can have something to look forward to, or give it a miss. While Hip Hop might not be my favourite art form, I think it is worth them celebrating it.

    Stamp themes are often discussed in letters to/from me. I know that Iron Man stamp went down well with a penpal's son in the US. Another penpal has a thing for owls. When I can, I do try to match up the themes. One penpal in the US is a botanist so Westonbirt and one of the flower stamps from a while back were on her last letter. I can imagine her buying the orchid stamps.

    Other than for actual postage, what is the purpose of these special issue/commemorative stamps? Surely to commemorate/celebrate history, culture, people... of note to the nation issuing.

  5. Well the 'Apollo' Advice note from RM for 26/11/2019 landed on my doorstep this morning. Yet another shock at the number of items in this issue.

    Usual items plus a MS, £4.20 Booklet & a PSB.


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