US Stamps

Revisiting the U.S. stamp subject list leaked three years ago

Dec 29, 2016, 12 PM

By Donna Houseman

In 2014 the Washington Post published a list of approved subjects for United States stamps that had been leaked to the newspaper (Linn’s, March 10, 2014). Although the newspaper attributed the list to the U.S. Postal Service’s Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, it is not clear who leaked the list to the Post.

It has been almost three years since the Washington Post published the list online.

The editors at Linn’s recently looked at the list to see which stamps could be checked off as having been issued and to note the subjects that have yet to be honored on a U.S. stamp.

2014 subjects

Subjects included on the Washington Post list for the 2014 stamp program that had not been previously announced by the U.S. Postal Service included Hot Rods, a new Celebrate stamp, a Christmas Magi stamp and a Winter-theme stamp. The hot rods, Christmas Magi and “winter fun” were all subjects of stamps ultimately issued in 2014.

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A Neon Celebrate stamp was issued in 2015.

A global holiday stamp was on the list for 2015, but the stamp was issued in 2014 as a single nondenominated ($1.15) global forever stamp featuring a wreath with silver bells.

Also issued in 2014 were eight nondenominated (49¢) commemorative forever stamps honoring Batman. These stamps were rumored to be on the program, but were not mentioned in the Washington Post list.

Stamps subjects that were on the list but that were not issued as stamps in 2014 included Pioneers of Graphic Design (not yet issued) and Solar System (issued in 2016 as the Views of Our Planets and Pluto Explored commemorative forever stamps). The Solar System was previously featured in 2000 as part of a 15-stamp set of five souvenir sheets (Scott 3409-3413).

2015 subjects

Approved subjects on the Post list for the 2015 stamp program included stamps that were issued that year: Robert Robinson Taylor (Black Heritage series); Ingrid Bergman (Legends of Hollywood); Letter Writing (From Me to You forever stamp); Love Heart Flower, which became the 2015 (71¢) 2-ounce rate stamp; Elvis Presley (Music Icons series); Peanuts (honored with 10 A Charlie Brown Christmas nondenominated forever stamps); Summer Harvest; Civil War (1865 Five Forks and Appomattox stamps); Social Awareness (Special Olympics); U.S. Coast Guard; War of 1812: Battle of New Orleans; Water Lilies; Winter (Geometric Snowflakes); World Stamp Expo (two World Stamp Show-NY 2016 stamps); and Year of the Ram.

According to the Washington Post list, approved rate-change stamps for 2015 included a 2-ounce rate (70¢ Vintage Tulip); Penguins; Eastern Tiger Swallowtail; Fanciful Flowers postal card; Flannery O’Connor; Glade Creek Mill Priority Mail; global forever; Coastal Birds postcard rate; Priority Express Mail; Tree Swallow envelope; and U.S. Flag.

Also on the list of approved stamps that were issued were a Wedding Cake stamp (issued in 2015), and National Park Service and Year of the Monkey (both issued in 2016).

Subjects approved for 2015 that have yet to be honored on stamps include: Christmas Carols (recently announced for 2017); Christmas Madonna and Child by Bachiacca; Distinguished Airmen; Johnny Carson; Latino Baseball; James Brown (Music Icons series); Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc.; Distinguished Americans (Capt. Francis B. Wai); first-class large coil of Patriotic stamps; presorted standard holiday stamp; and Patriotic stamped envelope.

Also on the 2015 list were Mushrooms; Sesame Street; X-ray Flowers; and Yes, Virginia, none of which have been used as topics of stamps issued by the U.S. Postal Service.

A Love Skywriting stamp, originally planned for 2015, is one of the first stamps issued by the USPS in 2017 (Jan. 7).

Five Fishes was a topic on the 2015 list and is likely what will be issued in 2017 as the recently announced Five Sharks stamps. Also on the list was a Seashells first-class large coil. Four (34¢) Seashells definitive postcard-rate stamps are included in the 2017 stamp program.

2016 subjects

Subjects on the list for 2016 that were used for issued stamps include: a 3-ounce definitive stamp honoring author Henry James; the Columbia River Gorge Priority Mail Express stamp; the first-class Patriotic Spiral large coil stamp (issued nondenominated, not denominated as stated on the list); a global forever (Moon) stamp; and four U.S. Flag (49¢) forever definitive stamps with a single design.

The list called for a Common Buckeye Butterfly stamp. This appeared to be a mistake, because this species of butterfly was on a 2006 stamp. The 2016 stamp features the Eastern Tailed-Blue butterfly.

Also slated for 2016 were a global holiday stamp (likely replaced by the global Moon forever stamp); the Indiana Statehood stamp, issued June 7; and a Legends of Hollywood stamp honoring Elizabeth Taylor. The Elizabeth Taylor stamp was replaced by one commemorating Shirley Temple. A Colorful Celebrations stamp was also issued in 2016, as stated on the list.

A Barn Swallow stamped envelope, originally planned for 2016, is now scheduled for 2017 release.

Other topics on the list are orchids, owls, pinatas, presents (celebrate), quilts (issued as two Star Quilts presorted first-class coil stamps in 2016), Sailing Ship postal card, sea lion, state and county fairs, sunflowers, and Yellowstone cutthroat trout.

Also mentioned were stamps picturing Atchafalaya Basin in Louisiana; Desert National Wildlife Refuge, Nevada; Horseshoe Lake, Illinois; Isle Royale National Park, Michigan; John Day River, Oregon; Prairie Border Nature Preserve, Indiana; and The Blue Ridge, Virginia. The subjects are said to be for international rate designs and appear to continue the Scenic American Landscapes series. That series came to an end in 2012 when it was replaced by the round Global forever stamps.

A curious subject on the CSAC list was described as a “pretty” stamped envelope. We are guessing that this may or may not have been issued, depending on what might be perceived as pretty.

Reviewing the approved list has proven to be a fun exercise. The Legends of Hollywood stamp for 2017 has yet to be announced by the Postal Service. Will Elizabeth Taylor be this year’s honoree?