The United States Postal Service has unveiled its first salute to next year's major, once-in-a-decade stamp show taking place in New York.
A sheet of 20 self-adhesive forever stamps was first shown to the public on April 17 at the end of the first-day ceremony for the Water Lilies stamped envelopes, during the American Stamp Dealers Association's spring show at the New York Hilton hotel.
The words "2016 World Stamp Show/New York City" circle a small star in the middle of the stamp, with "USA" at top and "Forever" at the bottom, surrounded by a variety of vintage-looking decorative motifs.
The single design is rendered alternately in red and blue through the sheet. The stamps will be printed by offset.
The top margin of the sheet reads "Come explore exciting new worlds at the World Stamp Show—NY 2016" and gives the dates, May 28 to June 4, 2016.
Text on the reverse of the stamps' backing paper will include a message from Wade Saadi, the president of the show's organizing committee.
The nondenominated first-class stamps will be officially issued this summer during the American Philatelic Society's annual Stampshow, which takes place Aug. 20-23 in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Initial response to the design by collectors in online venues such as Facebook was mixed, with some expressing delight that the USPS is actively supporting the 2016 show, while others bemoaned what they saw as an overly abstract image.
In an April 22 phone conversation with Linn’s, William J. Gicker, the USPS creative director for stamps, and Mary-Anne Penner, the incoming head of stamp services, offered some background on the new issue. The design is inspired by early 19th-century banknotes and stamps, Gicker said, particularly newspaper stamps. The brief to Michael Dyer, who created the design, was to capture the imagery of philately's classic era without reproducing an actual earlier design.
Dyer, a professor of typography and graphic design at City College of New York, also designed the dollar-value Waves of Color definitives of 2012 (Scott 4717-4720) and the Patriotic Waves $1 and $2 stamps issued earlier this year (4953-4954).
Past issues that recycled earlier stamp designs, such as the miniature sheet for the Washington 2006 World Philatelic Exhibition, which reproduced the $1, $2 and $5 stamps from the series of 1922-25, had been criticized by some collectors as unoriginal and exploitative, on account of their high face values.
Gicker said there will be at least one further issue honoring the 2016 show as the time approaches, and he did not rule out the use of intaglio printing on a future issue. For the present design, with its large areas of solid color, Gicker said intaglio printing would have been technically difficult as the red and blue inks would have bled into adjacent areas, making the designs muddy.
In an email, Saadi expressed his gratitude to the Postal Service.
"I am thankful we have a stamp issue. Neither Washington 2006 nor Pacific 97 had an advance stamp issue" well in advance of their respective exhibitions, Saadi said, adding: "I am very thankful that our friends at the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee pushed and pushed for a stamp for WSS–NY 2016."
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