If this all sounds familiar, it should. Three years ago, the same two nations issued stamps to mark the centennial of Japan’s 1912 gift of blossoming cherry trees to the United States.
That set of two U.S. stamps (Scott 4651-4652) was voted the most popular stamp of 2012 by Linn’s Stamp News readers in that year’s U.S. Stamp Popularity Poll.
The new set marks the 100th anniversary of the return gift that the United States presented Japan in 1915: blossoming dogwood trees. The stamps, which will be issued in Washington, D.C., might prove to be every bit as popular as the earlier issue, because the scenes on two stamps are again created by artist Paul Rogers. This time, however, there are four designs, with the other two created by Japanese artist Junko Kaifuchi.
Even though two artists worked on illustrating the issue, the stamps share similar design characteristics and complement each other nicely.
The pane of 12 forever stamps consists of 10 stamps using Rogers’ illustration, and two using the illustrations by Kaifuchi.
The stamps by Rogers show flowering cherry blossoms framing the Lincoln Memorial, and pink and white dogwood blossoms surrounding the U.S. Capitol.
The stamps by Kaifuchi show cherry blossoms with the National Diet Building, and white dogwood blossoms with the clock tower in the north garden of the Parliamentary Museum (Kenseikinenkan). Both structures are in Tokyo.
The 2012 stamps showed cherry blossoms with the Washington Monument on one stamp, and the Jefferson Memorial on the other.
The new stamp pane includes eight stamps on the right side. On the left side are Japanese script characters reading “friendship” at top, above two stamps using Rogers’ illustration. Below that is the phrase “GIFTS OF FRIENDSHIP” in English, the two stamps illustrated by Kaifuchi, and additional text: “Celebrating an enduring bond between two nations on the centennial of the gift of flowering dogwood trees to Japan in 1915.”
Press sheets, both with and without the die cuts that separate individual stamps, will be sold for $35.28 (72 stamps, six panes per sheet).
The Postal Service printed 1,000 sheets with die cuts, and 1,500 without die cuts.
The first-day ceremony is scheduled to take place at 11 a.m., at the Tidal Basin Paddle Boats, 1501 Maine Ave. SW, in Washington, D.C., according to a March 19 posting on the Postal Service’s Facebook page. No other details about the event have been made available.
Technical details for the Gifts and first-day cancel ordering information follow:
Nondenominated (49¢) Gifts of Friendship forever stamps
FIRST DAY— April 10, 2015; city— Washington, D.C., and nationwide.
DESIGN: artist— Paul Rogers, California; Junko Kaifuchi, Japan; designer and art director— William J. Gicker, Washington, D.C.; typographer— Greg Breeding, Charlottesville, Va.; modeler— Joseph Sheeran.
PRINTING: process— offset with microprinting; printer and processor— Ashton Potter USA Ltd., Williamsville, N.Y.; press— Muller A76; inks— cyan, yellow, magenta, black; paper— nonphosphored type III, block tagging; gum— self-adhesive; issue quantity— 80,000,004 stamps; format— pane of 12, from 144-subject cylinders; size— 1.35 inches by 0.91 inches (image); 1.46 inches by 1.05 inches (overall); 8.50 inches by 5.25 inches (full pane); plate numbers— none; marginal markings— header with Japanese script, “Gifts of Friendship,” descriptive text (front); “©2015 USPS,” USPS logo, bar code 589800, promotional text, verso text (back); USPS item No.— 589804.
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 Gifts of Friendship Stamps, Special Events, Box 92282, Washington, DC 20090-2282. Requests for first-day cancels must be postmarked by June 10.
The Postal Service’s set of four uncacheted first-day covers for the Gifts of Friendship stamps is item 489816 at $3.72. USPS order numbers for stamps and FDCs also appear in Linn’s 2015 U.S. Stamp Program.
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