US Stamps

By Charles Snee

A few favorites from 16 years of writing about U.S. stamps

February 13, 2015 08:17 AM

  • A 33¢ Jumping Spider stamp, one of 20 Insects and Spiders stamps issued in October 1999.

  • The 2004 37¢ Lewis and Clark stamp with its clean, crisp look is one of the author’s favorite stamps of the past 16 years.

  • Grand Central Terminal in New York City is shown on this $19.95 American Landmarks stamp.

When I came to work for Linn’s Stamp News in 1999, my duties demanded paying close attention to the stamps that the United States Postal Service issued.

Hundreds of U.S. stamps have been issued during the past 16 years.

Among all the commemoratives, there have been a handful that are particularly pleasing to me.

For National Stamp Collecting Month in October 1999, the Postal Service issued a pane of 20 different Insects and Spiders stamps.

Illustrator Steven Buchanan digitally created the intricate, colorful designs on his computer.

Seeing those stamps for the first time brought back fond memories of discovering similar creatures when I was a child.

A fun feature of the stamps is the phosphorescent tagging, which is applied in the shape of the insect or spider depicted.

Pictured nearby is the 33¢ Jumping Spider stamp, Scott 3351t.

To celebrate the 2004 bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the USPS issued three 37¢ stamps.

Two of the stamps, depicting Meriwether Lewis (Scott 3855) and William Clark (3856), were issued in a souvenir booklet (BK297).

The third stamp, which shows the intrepid explorers on a hill (Scott 3854), is a marvelous work of art.

It proved to be quite popular with the public, and Linn’s readers overwhelmingly selected it as the overall favorite in the 2004 United States Stamp Popularity Poll.

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To me, the stamp has a clean, crisp look that heark­ens back to the days of line engraving.

Others have called it among the most beautiful stamps to be issued by the Postal Service. That praise is not misplaced.

Readers of my monthly Dollar-Sign Stamps column know of my fondness for stamps with large denominations.

Among the most colorful high-denomination stamps to appear in recent years are the American Landmarks stamps.

These vivid stamps satisfy the basic rates for Priority Mail and Express Mail parcels.

In January 2013, a $5.60 stamp was issued for the Arlington Green Bridge in Vermont (Scott 4738).

One month later, the $19.95 Grand Central Terminal, New York City stamp (4739) joined the Landmarks series.

I’ve been inside the massive atrium of Grand Central a number of times, and the design of the stamp does justice to the iconic space.

Equally stunning are the 2014 $5.60 and $19.99 American Landmarks stamps (not shown), which depict, respectively, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in New York and the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii.

As a U.S. Navy retiree, I intend to visit the memorial some day.

Returning to these and other stamps that I have enjoyed over the years reminds me that great pleasure and satisfaction come from collecting what one likes.

My taste in stamps might not agree with yours, and that is okay.

Pull down an album, admire some of your favorites and savor the joys of our wonderful hobby.