By Janet Klug
It is the time of the year when multitudes of Americans get in their cars and head for a national park. Millions will visit Yellowstone, Yosemite, the Great Smoky Mountains or any of the 59 Congressionally designated parks that are scattered throughout the United States and its territories.
Even if you are not visiting any of the national parks, buying the passports and labels is a fun way to learn about the parks as an armchair traveler. More information is available online at http://passport.eparks.com/store.The National Park Service has a passport program, begun in 1986, that allows the holder to paste a stamplike gummed label (poster stamp) on the appropriate page of a booklet and then have it "canceled" at the park. New stamps are issued each year, so return visits to the same park can be commemorated with new stamps.
Some readers might say that "poster stamps" are not real stamps. That is true, you cannot mail a letter with them. The national park poster stamps are part of a branch of the hobby called "cinderellas," adhesives that look like stamps but have no postal validity.
If you love national parks but not poster stamps, you can collect actual postage stamps that bear images of national parks.
The United States issued a set of stamps for National Parks Year in 1934, beginning with Scott 740 (Figure 1), which depicts El Capitan in Yosemite.
Ten single stamps showing scenes in as many different parks were issued individually between July and October 1934. Two souvenir sheets (750-51) were also issued that year at stamp shows in Atlantic City, N.J., and Omaha, Neb.
In 1937, a third souvenir sheet (Figure 2, Scott 797), for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, was issued at a stamp show held in Asheville, N.C.
Things got complicated when collectors discovered that Postmaster General James A. Farley had provided imperforate examples of certain stamps, including the National Parks issues, to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was a stamp collector, and a few other people.
Making amends, the U.S. Post Office Department reissued the imperforate stamps and made them available to the general public. The reissued "special printings" are collected in a variety of formats including gutter pairs and blocks, arrow blocks, line pairs and so on. These stamps have become known as "Farley's Follies."
The U.S. Postal Service has issued other stamps for America's national parks. The Scenic American Landscapes airmail series, for example, which began in 1999, has included iconic images from the Grand Canyon, Acadia, Great Smoky Mountains, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Voyageurs and Glacier National Parks, among others.
The 85¢ Glacier National Park stamp, issued Jan. 19, 2012 (Scott C149), is pictured in Figure 3.
A national parks collection can be international, as the United States is not the only nation that has philatelically honored its parks.
Japan established its first national parks in March 1934: Setonaikai, Unzen and Kirishima. There are now 30 national parks in Japan and 56 quasi-national parks, which have national protection but not the formal status of a national park.
Japan issued its first National Parks stamps in 1936, with four different views of its most famous natural wonder, Mount Fuji, in the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park (Scott 223-26). Figure 4 illustrates the 10-sen dark blue stamp from this set, depicting Mount Fuji as seen from the city of Mishima. Other Japanese national parks and protected parklands also have graced their stamps throughout the years.
France has nine national parks, and in 1996 three stamps (Scott 2514-16) were issued that feature Cevennes (Figure 5, 2514), Vanoise and Mercantour. This set was followed in 1997 by four more National Parks issues: Parc des Ecrins, Guadeloupe Park, Parc des Pyrenees and Port-Cros Park (2569-72).
Australia has an astounding 500-plus national parks. Uluru-Kata Tjuta a National Park contains the most famous and most photographed landmark in Australia, Uluru/Ayers Rock (as it was officially designated in 2002), an enormous sandstone formation sacred to the indigenous Australian people and located almost in the center of the Australian continent.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Uluru is shown in Figure 6 on Australia Scott 1311.
The stamp pictured in Figure 7, Australia Scott 2627, features Maria Island in Tasmania. All of Maria Island is a national park, accessible only by ferry with no motor vehicles permitted.
There are so many national parks in Australia that finding them all on stamps is unlikely, but collecting those that have been issued so far – and there are many – is a beautiful and interesting introduction to the diversity of the Australian continent.
Extending a parks collection to Asia, Mount Ophir in Gunung Ledang National Park in Johor, Malaysia, appears on Malaysia Scott 1088 (Figure 8), issued in 2006.
Silent Valley National Park, located in Kerala, South India, and considered to be one of the last undisturbed tracts of natural rainforest in India, is honored on a 2009 Indian stamp (Scott 2373, Figure 9). The beautiful image certainly can make you wish you were there.
Gathering the world's national park stamps is a form of topical or thematic collecting, and there are many ways a collection like that can be organized: by continent, by country, by topography, or in any other manner that might appeal to you.
For more information about assembling a topical collection, contact the American Topical Association, P.O. Box 8, Carterville, IL 62918-0008; or visit the ATA online at http://americantopicalassn.org.
July 01, 2015 10:28 AMIn the Spotlight on Philately column this month, Ken Lawrence presents a lengthy and fascinating history of the United States 30¢ orange Benjamin Franklin stamp of 1917 with gauge 10 perforations on unwatermarked paper. Read More ›
June 30, 2015 05:14 PMSince the abhorrent murder of nine African-American churchgoers by a white supremacist in Charleston, S.C. on June 17, calls have spread across the United States for symbols of the old Confederacy to be removed from public places. Read More ›
June 25, 2015 03:34 PMThe hardcover edition of the 2015 United States Postal Card Catalog arrived on my desk in mid-June. The catalog is published by the United Postal Stationery Society, of which I am a longtime member. Read More ›
June 17, 2015 04:15 PMDuring its most recent board meeting, held by telephone June 10, the American Philatelic Society board of directors approved the Institute for Analytical Philately as an APS affiliate. Read More ›
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News editorial director Donna Houseman discusses the announcement that Scott catalogs is assigning Scott number 5000 for United States stamps.
Watch as Scott catalog senior editor Marty Frankevicz discusses a new Spanish stamp commemorating the first international congress on bullfighting as cultural heritage.
Chad Snee reports on the National Postal Museum reception for the display of the British Guiana 1¢ Magenta stamp.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News associate editor Michael Baadke reports on the recent U.S. postage rate changes and the 10 new stamps being issued this week.
It is always a treat to get to see stamp dealers’ own collections.
In the recently concluded Linn’s United States Stamp Popularity Poll, the Circus Posters set of eight stamps was chosen as the overall favorite issue of 2014.
Dispersal of the splendid Daniel B. Curtis collection continued March 25, with Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries gaveling items from United States back-of-the-book and possessions.
The 175th anniversary of the first postage stamp, Great Britain's Penny Black, is May 6, but the stamp was placed on sale May 1, 1840, for mailers to use beginning on May 6, the designated issue date.