US Stamps

By Michael Baadke

U.S. Wedding stamps show floral designs by Merian

January 23, 2015 10:39 AM


  • The Vintage Rose forever stamp and the 70¢ Vintage Tulip stamp will be issued Feb. 14 with a ceremony at the American Philatelic Society’s Ameristamp Expo in Riverside, Calif. The designs reproduce drawings by Maria Sibylla Merian.

  • Two other designs by Maria Sibylla Merian, who studied and painted flowers, birds and insects, are shown on United States 32¢ stamps issued in 1997.

  • The United States Postal Service issued its first Wedding stamp in 2004.

A rare use of intaglio printing for engraved designs will be featured on the latest additions to the United States Wedding stamp series.

Once the most common form of postage stamp printing, the use of intaglio (or recess) printing of line-engraved images on stamps declined in the 1970s and 1980s as multicolor gravure and offset stamp printing became less expensive and more common.

The nondenominated (49¢) Vintage Rose stamp and the 70¢ Vintage Tulip stamp are both printed in two-color intaglio, according to the U.S. Postal Service. Each has a small red heart in the upper corner. The rest of the design, reproducing artwork by Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717), is in black.

These stamps were both designed by Jeanne Greco, working with USPS art director Greg Breeding.

The stamps will be introduced with a first-day ceremony at the American Philatelic Society’s Ameristamp Expo, the large winter stamp show taking place Feb. 13-15 at the Riverside Convention Center, 3637 Fifth St., Riverside, Calif.

Details about the upcoming stamp show were published on page 29 in the Feb. 2 Linn’s.

The new stamps are printed in separate panes of 20. The two different denominations make them an appealing choice for couples sending out wedding invitations. The 70¢ stamp can be used to send the invitation with return materials and additional information that might push the weight beyond the 1-ounce letter rate limit.

The companion forever stamp can be used to provide postage applied on enclosed envelopes for the return of RSVP cards.

Both of these stamps also can be used alone or in combination with other stamps as needed for any type of mailing.

The Postal Service suggests, for example, that they are suitable for thank you notes, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day cards, birthday cards and other occasions.

These are not the first United States stamps to feature Merian’s botanical designs.

A pair of designs are featured on 32¢ booklet stamps issued in 1997 (Scott 3126-3129). That Merian Botanical Prints issue shows insects upon a citron on one design, and a pineapple on the other.

That 1997 booklet included text on the cover which read: “In 1699, artist Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717) travelled to Surinam where she studied and painted insects, birds and plants. These stamps depict two of the more than 70 images she created while on this expedition.”

According to the Postal Service, Greco designed the new stamps using drawings from engraved plates originally created by Merian. “A small, deep crimson heart on both stamps adds a dash of color to the designs and makes them a natural pair,” the Postal Service added.

The Postal Service will sell two varieties of uncut press sheets for each of the two new stamps.

Each press sheet contains 12 panes, adding up to 240 stamps per sheet.

Five hundred sheets were printed with die cuts, and 1,000 without die cuts.

The Vintage Rose forever stamp press sheets cost $117.60 each, and the 70¢ Vintage Tulip stamp press sheets cost $168.

Technical details and first-day cancel ordering information for the Vintage Rose and Vintage Tulip stamps are found in the box below.

Nondenominated (49¢) Vintage Rose and
70¢ Vintage Tulip special stamps

FIRST DAY— Feb. 14, 2015; city— Riverside, Calif., and nationwide.

DESIGN: designer— Jeanne Greco, New York, N.Y.; art director and typographer— Greg Breeding, Charlottesville, Va.; modeler— Donald Woo.

PRINTING: process— intaglio and offset; printer and processor— Banknote Corporation of America for Sennett Security Products, Browns Summit, N.C.; press— Alprinta 74; inks— Pantone Matching System 207 (intaglio), PMS 433; paper— phosphor tagged, overall; gum— self-adhesive; issue quantity— 150 million stamps (Vintage Rose, 30 million stamps (Vintage Tulip); format— separate panes of 20, each from 240-subject cylinders; size— 0.77 inches by 1.05 inches (image); 0.91 inches by 1.19 inches (overall); 5.55 inches by 5.76 inches (full pane); plate numbers— “S” followed by two single digits; marginal markings— plate numbers in four corners (front); “©2014 USPS,” USPS logo, plate position diagram, barcode 587800, promotional text; USPS item Nos.— 587704 (Vintage Rose), 587804 (Vintage Tulip).

First-day cancel ordering information

Standard ordering instructions apply. 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 The Vintage Rose Stamp (or The Vintage Tulip Stamp), Postmaster, Riverside Main Post Office, 3890 Orange St., Riverside, CA 92501-3638. Requests for first-day cancels must be postmarked by April 15.

The Postal Service’s uncacheted first-day covers for the Vintage Rose forever stamps is item No. 472416 at $1.86.