By Michael Baadke
A perennial favorite in the United States stamp program will return in 2018 as the U.S. Postal Service offers a new Love forever stamp for mailers and collectors.
The nondenominated (49¢) Love Flourishes stamp will be issued Jan. 18 in Phoenix, Ariz., and will go on sale nationwide the same day.
The colorful new stamp will be issued in panes of 20. The 49¢ postage value and individual stamp cost will increase to 50¢ three days later — on Jan. 21 — when the first-class letter mail postage rate goes up by 1¢.
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USPS Stamp Fulfillment Services will also offer a press sheet with die cuts consisting of 160 stamps (eight unsevered panes of 20) for the price of the face value postage.
The first-day ceremony for the new stamp will take place at the Phoenix Convention Center, 100 N. 3rd St., in Ballroom North 120B.
The event will begin at 10 a.m. Thursday in association with the Creativation 2018 event sponsored by the Association For Creative Industries. The ceremony is free and open to the public.
A Dec. 28 press release from the Postal Service did not provide information about ceremony participants.
The design of the new stamp features “a fanciful garden of colorful flowers surrounding the word ‘Love’ written in cursive script,” according to the Postal Service.
The illustration is by Florida-based artist Anna Bond, a longtime stamp collector and the co-founder and chief creative officer of Rifle Paper Co., a stationery and lifestyle brand founded in 2009 and based in Winter Park, Fla.
Bond hand-paints the illustrations that appear on her company’s greeting cards, writing sets, art prints, fabric and other products.
Her artwork also has been featured in many magazine and book projects.
The Love Flourishes stamp design is hand-painted with opaque watercolors on paper. USPS art director Greg Breeding designed the stamp using Bond’s artwork.
“The color palette of pink, coral, and yellow, and the choice of flowers — stylized roses, peonies, and dahlias — give the art a lush, romantic look that is at once retro and timeless,” according to the Postal Service.
“Being asked to design the Love stamp for the United States Postal Service is not only a huge honor, but a childhood dream come true,” said Bond. “I hope the stamp inspires children and adults alike to share personal stories and life moments through the gift of a handwritten card or note.”
Bond’s illustration for the new Love stamp is her first to appear on a U.S. stamp.
Her interest in stamps began at a young age. Her great grandfather’s extensive stamp collection was passed down to her when she was about 8 years old.
The Jan. 18 issue date ensures that the new stamp will be available in plenty of time for mailing Valentine’s Day cards before Feb. 14, and will be an appropriate option for couples planning to send save-the-date announcements or invitations to a spring wedding.
Of course, the forever stamp is also valid as postage for any domestic mail weighing 1-ounce or less.
The stamp is the latest in a lengthy series of U.S. Love stamps that began in 1973 but didn’t see its second issue until 1982.
That second stamp, the 20¢ Love Flowers (Scott 1951), was illustrated by Mary Faulconer and introduced a floral theme into the series that has been revisited several times since.
The 1987 22¢ Love stamp showed a multicolor heart with blooms as its central feature (Scott 2248). Photographs of roses illustrated the 25¢ and 45¢ Love stamps issued in 1988 (2378-2379).
A 44¢ Love stamp issued in 2010 showed pansies in a basket, adapted from the design of a greeting card (Scott 4450). And a set of 10 different Garden of Love forever stamps issued in 2011 (4531-4540) featured fanciful floral designs with heart-shaped elements by artist Jose Ortega.
Flowers are also prominent on many of the U.S. stamps issued in recent years with wedding announcements in mind, such as the 2017 Celebration Flowers set of two (Scott 5199-5200).
Technical details and first-day cancel ordering information for the Love Flourishes forever stamp can be found in the box on this page.