US Stamps

U.S. Year of the Horse stamp debuts Jan. 15; drums shown on first commemorative of 2014

Dec 27, 2013, 3 AM

The United States Postal Service’s new Year of the Horse stamp will be issued Jan. 15 in San Francisco, Calif. It will be sold nationwide on the same day.

The nondenominated (46¢) commemorative forever stamp continues the current U.S. New Year series. It will be sold in panes of 12 self-adhesive stamps.

The Year of the Snake runs from Jan. 31 through Feb. 18, 2015.

The illustration for this year’s stamp features drums with red drumsticks.

“Drums such as those depicted in the stamp art are played, with drumsticks sometimes painted red for luck, to usher in this time of renewed hope for the future,” according to the Postal Service. “The artist has decorated these drums with peonies, traditional symbols of prosperity.”

The Postal Service’s first New Year series began in 1992 with a 29¢ Year of the Rooster stamp (Scott 2720) and continued through 2006.

The second series debuted in 2008 and will run through 2019. Artist Kam Mak has created all of the illustrations for the second series. Born in Hong Kong, Mak grew up in New York City’s Chinatown after his family moved to the United States in 1971.

Ethel Kessler served as the U.S. Postal Service art director for the Year of the Horse stamp issue, as well as designer and typographer.

Kessler combined Mak’s artwork with two elements from the previous New Year series: Clarence Lee’s paper-cut design of a horse, and the Chinese characters for the word horse, drawn in grass-style calligraphy by Lau Bun.

Lee’s paper-cut design originally appeared on the 34¢ Year of the Horse stamp issued Feb. 11, 2002 (Scott 3559). The design was used again on stamps in panes of 12 different designs issued in 2005 and 2006 (3895g, 3997g).

Lee’s paper-cut art images of the 12 animals representing the Lunar New Year cycle are pictured in the selvage of the new Year of the Horse stamps. The horse is printed in white, and the other 11 animals are printed in gold. In addition, a large image of the horse is shown in lavender in the selvage, and a smaller image of the horse is shown in gold in the upper left corner of each stamp.

The U.S. Postal Service contracted with printer CCL Label Inc. to produce approximately 17.6 million Year of the Horse stamps. This is the first commemorative stamp project for CCL Label Inc., which was formerly Avery Dennison’s security printing division.

The print quantity for this stamp issue is significantly lower than the 31.2 million stamps produced for the 2013 Year of the Snake forever stamp (Scott 4726).

A standard four-bar first-day cancel will be available. A digital color first-day postmark will show a large image of the paper-cut horse in a red circle.

Press sheets, both with and without the die cuts that normally separate individual stamps, will be issued for the Year of the Horse stamp. Each press sheet consists of nine panes and sells for $49.68. A total of 2,500 press sheets of each type will be available.

Technical details and first-day postmark information for the Year of the Horse stamp are included in the box on this page.