US Stamps

By Lloyd De Vries

2016 U.S. stamp program: great potential for combo first-day covers

January 12, 2016 04:00 PM

  • Combination first-day covers need not be serious. An off-the-wall combo cover for the United States 2016 Star Trek stamps might include the 1986 5.5¢ Star (Route) Truck stamp of the Transportation series, a punning suggestion from cachetmaker Hideaki Nakano when the coil was issued.
  • The $2.40 Moon Landing Anniversary stamp issued during World Stamp Expo 1989 in Washington, D.C., was the focal point of this oversized combo cover by Artmaster, which includes every U.S. space stamp issued to that point.

By Lloyd De Vries

This year’s United States stamp program is rife with possibilities for combination first-day covers: that is, FDCs with additional stamps related to the new issue. This article will address only some topical combinations; less popular but still doable are combinations by date or city of issue or even stamp-design artist.

The Shirley Temple forever stamp lends itself to several possibilities. The child star worked with Hattie McDaniel (Scott 3996) and Lionel Barrymore (2012) in 1935 in The Little Colonel. That is the film where Temple and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson did the famous staircase dance. There is not yet a stamp for Robinson; however, a clever cachet might tie in the Temple stamp with Scott 1750, the 13¢ Theater Dance stamp in the 1978 American Dancing set.

The actress starred with Ronald Reagan (Scott 3897, 4078 and 4494) in That Hagen Girl in 1947, and in that same year with Cary Grant (3692) in The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer. In 1948, she was featured with John Wayne (3876) and Henry Fonda (3911) in Fort Apache.

In 1963, Temple appeared on The Red Skelton Hour, which was featured on Scott 4414c, a 44¢ stamp in the 2009 Early TV Memories set.

There are now so many stamps in the Legends of Hollywood series that making combos for new entries in the series is fairly easy.

Researching such links is made easier by Internet tools such as Wikipedia and IMDb (the Internet Movie Database).

The 2016 U.S. Flag stamp has almost too many matches among earlier U.S. stamps; combo FDC creators have an abundance of choices.

The Year of the Monkey stamp can be combined with earlier Clarence Lee-designed Lunar New Year stamps, such as the 37¢ Year of the Monkey stamps from 2004 (Scott 3832) or 2005 (3895i); the 39¢ stamp from 2006 (3997i); or with Year of the Monkey stamps issued by other countries for 2016. The United States is one of the few countries that will permit other countries’ stamps to be canceled with its own postmarks, as long as a mint U.S. issue is included in the cover’s franking.

If the fruit-theme definitives — Red Pears, Albemarle Pippin Apples and Grapes — are issued, options for combo FDCs include the four 33¢ Apple stamps of 2013 (Scott 4727-4730), as well as a 34¢ Apple stamp in 2001 (3491, 3493). For a Pear stamp, you have to go farther back, to varieties of the 32¢ stamp issued in 1995 (Scott 2488, 2494 and 2495A).

Star Quilts also are on the schedule as a 2016 stamp subject. There have been three major previous issues featuring quilts: the 13¢ American Folk Art set of four Basket Design Quilt stamps in 1978 (Scott 1745-1748); the American Treasures series 34¢ Amish Quilts commemoratives in 2001 (Scott 3524-3527); and the American Treasures series 39¢ Quilts of Gee’s Bend set of 10 (4089-4098).

A sleep-related combo possibility for one of the new quilt issues could use the 60¢ Coverlet Eagle stamp of 2002 (Scott 3646), as a coverlet is a decorative bedcover.

Several new U.S. issues will debut at World Stamp Show-NY 2016, including a stamp marking the 250th anniversary of the repeal of the Stamp Act 1766, which has no previous U.S. issue with which to correlate for a combo FDC.

However, also to be issued at this exciting international show, the eight Views of Our Planets forever stamps and the Pluto Explored set of two forever stamps might individually be paired with some of the issues of the 1970s honoring planetary exploration and space missions, or the 1991 booklet of 29¢ Space Exploration stamps (Scott 2568-2577).

There are several varieties of the first Eid stamp, issued in 2001 (Scott 3532). It might be interesting to put one of them beside the 2016 Eid Greetings stamp so that the differences in the script text can be seen.

All of the previous U.S. Hanukkah stamps have depicted a menorah (candelabra) or dreidel (spinning toy). A combination cover for this year’s menorah design might include all earlier Hanukkah stamps, or just the earlier menorahs.

There was a 33¢ Star Trek stamp (Scott 3188e) in the Celebrate the Century 1960s sheet issued in 1999. These 15-stamp sheets often can be found at face value at some of the larger stamp shows.

In a teleconference with reporters on Dec. 29, 2015, USPS acting director of Stamp Services Mary-Anne Penner said the upcoming Jack-o’-Lanterns forever stamps will be the first Halloween-theme U.S. stamps ever issued. Maybe so, but 1974’s 10¢ Legend of Sleepy Hollow stamp (Scott 1548), commemorating one of America’s favorite Halloween stories, was issued in October with a design featuring black silhouettes against an orange full moon.

The New York Times stamp column of Sept. 15, 1974, noted that the stamps would be distributed nationwide in time for use on Halloween cards, and that the Postal Service “says that large numbers of Halloween cards are delivered every year.”

The Sleepy Hollow stamp would make a good pairing on a combo FDC with the 2016 stamps featuring carved pumpkins.

There are many earlier Madonna and Child Christmas stamps, and it’s worth noting that the 1998 stamp has a Florentine design, as does the 2016 stamp.

Savvy combo FDC servicers will want to begin looking for the necessary mint stamps now. At the moment, many can be found in dealers’ face-value boxes, but they might go up in price closer to a popular issued date.