Ten colorful songbirds will take to the air on commemorative forever stamps issued April 5 in Dallas, Texas, and nationwide the same day.
The new stamps will be sold in a format popular with mailing customers: a double-sided pane of 20 known as a convertible booklet. The initial print run by United States Postal Service contract printer Ashton Potter will be 400 million stamps.
The offset-printed stamps reproduce paintings by artist Robert Giusti. Each bird is painted perched upon a tree branch or among flowering blossoms. The name of the bird appears in italic type at the bottom of each stamp.
Derry Noyes served as the USPS art director for the project.
The 10 birds featured are the western meadowlark, mountain bluebird, western tanager, painted bunting, Baltimore oriole, evening grosbeak, scarlet tanager, rose-breasted grosbeak, American goldfinch and white-throated sparrow.
The first-day ceremony will take place at 10:30 a.m. at Trinity River Audubon Center, 6500 Great Trinity Forest Way in Dallas.
The set also will be offered in press sheets, both with and without the die cuts that normally separate individual stamps. Each press sheet consists of eight panes and sells for $78.40, with 2,500 press sheets of each type available.
“Between 4,000 and 4,500 different types of songbirds can be found around the planet, accounting for nearly half of all bird species,” the Postal Service noted in its initial announcement of the stamp set. “Songbirds are identified by their highly developed vocal organs, although some, like the crow, have harsh voices, and others sing rarely, or not at all.”
The western meadowlark has been shown seven times on earlier U.S. stamps, with six of those appearances coming on stamps from the 20¢ 50 State Birds stamps of 1982, representing Kansas (Scott 1968), Montana (1978), Nebraska (1979), North Dakota (1986), Oregon (1989) and Wyoming (2002). The western meadowlark also was shown on a 34¢ stamp (3506f) in the 2001 Great Plains Prairie set from the Nature of America series.
The mountain bluebird is featured on the 1982 State Bird stamps for Idaho (Scott 1964) and Nevada (1980), and is also shown prominently on the 1990 25¢ Idaho Statehood stamp (2439).
The Baltimore oriole appeared previously on the 1982 State Bird stamp for Maryland (Scott 1972).
The scarlet tanager is on a 22¢ stamp (Scott 2306) from the 1987 North American Wildlife set, the 2002 37¢ John James Audubon stamp (3650), and the 2011 Tennessee Flag forever coil (4322) in the Flags of Our Nation set.
The rose-breasted grosbeak was previously depicted on a 1988 25¢ definitive (Scott 2284).
The American goldfinch is depicted on the 1982 State Bird stamps for New Jersey (Scott 1982) and Washington (1999).
Technical details and first-day cancel ordering information for the Songbirds stamps are below.
Nondenominated (49¢) Songbirds forever stamps
FIRST DAY— April 5, 2014; city— Dallas, Texas, and nationwide.
DESIGN: artist— Robert Giusti; designer, art director and typographer— Derry Noyes; modeler— Joseph Sheeran.
PRINTING: process— offset; printer and processor— Ashton Potter USA Ltd., Williamsville, N.Y.; press— Mueller Martini A76; inks— black, cyan, magenta, yellow; paper— nonphosphored type III, overall tagging; gum— self-adhesive; issue quantity— 400 million stamps; format— pane of 20 (convertible booklet format), from 640-subject cylinders; size— 0.84 inches by 1.42 inches (image); 0.98 inches by 1.56 inches (overall); 6.18 inches by 3.12 inches (full pane); plate numbers— “P” followed by four single digits; marginal markings— header “Songbirds,” “Twenty First-Class Forever Stamps,” bar code, “©2014 USPS,” plate numbers in peel strip area; USPS item No.— 689304.
First-day cancel ordering information
Collectors requesting first-day cancels are encouraged to purchase their own stamps and affix them to envelopes. The first-day cover envelopes should be addressed for return (a removable label may be used), and mailed in a larger envelope addressed to Songbirds Stamps, Postmaster, 401 Tom Landry Freeway, Room 645, Dallas, TX 75260-9998. Requests for first-day cancels must be postmarked by June 6.
The Postal Service’s uncacheted set of 10 first-day covers for the Songbirds stamps is USPS item No. 689316 at $9.30. USPS order numbers for stamps and FDCs also appear in Linn’s 2014 U.S. Stamp Program.