By Michael Baadke
The United States Postal Service has added another stamp to its ongoing Fruit definitive (regular-issue) series, which began in 2016. The new issue is a 5¢ Grapes stamp in self-adhesive panes of 20, with a Feb. 24 issue date.
An advisory provided by the Postal Service at the beginning of the year indicates that the new stamp will be issued without a first-day ceremony. The designated city of issue is Grapevine, Texas.
The stamp reproduces the design of the 5¢ Grapes coil stamp issued Feb. 19, 2016, in rolls of 10,000 (Scott 5038). The pen-and-ink and watercolor illustration by John Burgoyne features two clusters of pinot noir grapes growing on vines among green leaves.
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“The Pinot noir grapes pictured in the stamp art are aptly named,” according to the Postal Service. “The deep-purple fruit-noir, French for ‘black’ — grow in tight clusters shaped like a pinecone; pinot is a variant of pineau, the diminutive of pin, which means ‘pine’ in French. The name refers to both the grape and the wine it produces.
“Believed to be one of the oldest cultivated grapes in the Vitis genus, the Pinot noir grape can produce one of the most highly prized and elegant wines in the world. Once thought to grow well only in Burgundy, France, the Pinot noir grape is now successfully grown in cooler climates around the world, including areas of the United States — northern California, New York, and Oregon, among others.”
USPS art director Derry Noyes designed the stamp; Ashton Potter printed it by offset.
The definitive series began with the issuance of a 10¢ Red Pears coil stamp Jan. 17, 2016 (Scott 5039) in rolls of 10,000. A 1¢ Albemarle Pippin Apples coil stamp arrived in rolls of 3,000 and 10,000 Aug. 12, 2016 (5037).
The new stamp is the first in the series issued in a format other than a large roll of coil stamps. A new variety of the 10¢ Red Pears stamp is expected March 23; the format has not been announced.
Burgoyne created the artwork for all of the Fruit stamps issued thus far. He also illustrated the set of four 33¢ Apples stamps issued Jan. 17, 2013, in panes of 20 and coil rolls of 100 (Scott 4727-4734).
Stamps with smaller denominations between 1¢ and 10¢ are generally used as “make-up” stamps, to complete the postage requirement on items that might be inadequately franked. Some charity groups have affixed clusters of small-denomination stamps on return envelopes mailed to potential donors.
Technical details and first-day cancel ordering information can be found below.
FIRST DAY— Feb. 24, 2017; city— Grapevine, Texas., and nationwide.
DESIGN: artist— John Burgoyne, West Barnstable, Mass.; designer, typographer and art director— Derry Noyes, Washington, D.C.; modelers— Joseph Sheeran.
PRINTING: process— offset with microprinting; printer and processor— Ashton Potter USA Ltd., Williamsville, N.Y.; press— Muller A76; inks— cyan, magenta, yellow, black, Pantone Matching System 4 warm gray, PMS 7667C purple; gum— self-adhesive; paper— nonphosphored type III; issue quantity— 30 million stamps; format— pane of 20, from 400-subject cylinders; size— 0.73 inches by 0.84 inches (image); 0.87 inches by 0.98 inches (overall); 5.35 inches by 4.93 inches (pane); plate numbers— “P” followed by six single digits; marginal markings— plate numbers in four corners (front); “©2015 USPS,” USPS logo, two bar codes, pane position diagram, promotional text; USPS item No.— 111404.
Standard ordering instructions apply. Collectors requesting first-day cancels are encouraged to purchase their own stamps and affix them to envelopes. The envelope must be franked with at least 49¢ in first-class postage. The first-day cover envelopes should be addressed for return (a removable label may be used), and mailed in a larger envelope addressed to FDOI — Grapes Stamp, USPS Stamp Fulfillment Services, 8300 NE Underground Drive, Suite 300, Kansas City, MO 64144-9900.
Requests for first-day cancels must be postmarked by April 24.
The Postal Service’s uncacheted first-day cover for the Grapes stamp is USPS item No. 111416 at 98¢. USPS order numbers for stamps and FDCs also appear in Linn’s 2017 U.S. Stamp Program.