US Stamps

Michael Baadke

Two high-denomination U.S. stamps issued Jan. 21 for new priority mail rates

January 08, 2018 01:51 PM

  • The $6.70 Byodo-In Temple stamp fulfilling a new Priority Mail rate has a Jan. 21 issue date.
  • Also issued on Jan. 21, the $24.70 Sleeping Bear Dunes Priority Mail Express stamp is the highest denomination U.S. regular stamp in history.
  • The PhotoAssist agency in Maryland contacted Michigan photographer John McCormick to license use of his photograph of Sleeping Bear Dunes as a reference for the finished stamp illustration. Photograph by John McCormick, courtesy Michigan Nut Photography.

By Michael Baadke

Two new high-denomination United States stamps are being issued Jan. 21 in panes of four. The stamps fulfill new rates going into effect that day for expedited mail.

A $6.70 stamp will be issued showing Byodo-In Temple in the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park in Kahaluu, Hawaii, on the eastern side of Oahu.

The $6.70 denomination fulfills the new rate for Priority Mail in the regular flat-rate envelope.

A $24.70 Sleeping Bear Dunes stamp depicts part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, which extends along the northwest coast of Michigan’s lower peninsula, and also onto two nearby uninhabited islands in Lake Michigan.

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The $24.70 denomination, the largest amount ever to appear on a U.S. regular postage stamp, pays for the Priority Mail Express flat rate using the regular envelope for domestic overnight delivery (with limited exceptions).

The stamps are being issued without a first-day ceremony. The official first-day location for both stamps is Kansas City, Mo., home of the U.S. Postal Service’s Stamp Fulfillment Services division.

The Postal Service has prepared black pictorial first-day cancels for both issues. The Byodo-In Temple first-day cancel is text within a simple framework representing a temple.

The Sleeping Bear Dunes first-day cancel depicts a lighthouse and seagulls, lake water and curved lines representing the dunes.

Both first-day cancels are Kansas City postmarks.

Digital color postmarks, also from Kansas City, will be offered on specified first-day covers sold by the Postal Service.

The temple is shown in silhouette with natural surroundings as seen through a frame on the color postmark. The Dunes color postmark shows three separate elements: a sunset, a canoe with paddle and trees, and a simple campfire.

The Sunday issue date presents a challenge for first-day cover collectors who prefer a first-day cancel from the location pictured on the stamp rather than the underground warehouse from which the stamps are distributed.

The new stamps continue the American Landmarks stamp series, which began in 2008 with a $4.80 stamp depicting Mount Rushmore in South Dakota (Scott 4268) and a $16.50 stamp for Hoover Dam on the Arizona-Nevada border (4269).

With the addition of the two new stamps, the series depicts 20 different natural or man-made sights from a dozen or so states and Puerto Rico.

The $6.70 Byodo-In Temple stamp is the third to feature a scene from Hawaii, after the 2014 $19.99 USS Arizona Memorial stamp (Scott 4873) and the 2017 $6.65 Liliuokalani Gardens stamp (5156), which the new stamp effectively replaces.

The $24.70 Sleeping Bear Dunes stamp is the second to feature a scene from Michigan. The first, in 2010, was the $4.90 Mackinac Bridge stamp (Scott 4438).

The artist for all of the stamps in the series is Dan Cosgrove, a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, now based in Chicago, Ill. Though the specific process for creating the art on these two new stamps was not described by the Postal Service, Cosgrove has created digital illustrations on computer for previous American Landmarks series stamps.

USPS art director Greg Breeding designed the stamps using Cosgrove’s original illustrations.

The illustration of the Sleeping Bear Dunes stamp is modeled after an image captured by Michigan professional photographer John McCormick, whose business, Michigan Nut Photography, is represented online.

The original photo was taken from Esch Road Beach at Sleeping Bear Dunes, according to McCormick, who provided his photograph to Linn’s for the illustration shown here.

McCormick said he was contacted by a representative of the Maryland firm PhotoAssist, which has partnered with the Postal Service for many years, and he agreed to license the use of his photograph as a reference for the stamp illustration.

Sleeping Bear Dunes is a popular Michigan tourist attraction for hikers and nature lovers. The Sleeping Bear Dunes Visitors Bureau reports that “With over 100,000 public votes, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was named the Most Beautiful Place in America on ABC’s Good Morning America.”

The National Park Service reports that the Dune Climb affording a view of Glen Lake is a popular activity.

Hawaii’s Byodo-In Temple is found at the foot of the Koolau Mountains on the island of Oahu. The temple website describes the structure as “a smaller-scale replica of the over 950-year-old Byodo-In Temple, a United Nations World Heritage Site in Uji, Japan.”

The Hawaii temple is “a non-practicing Buddhist temple which welcomes people of all faiths to worship, meditate or simply appreciate its beauty.”

The temple grounds are often used for wedding ceremonies, according to the website.

The temple was completed in 1968, marking the 100-year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii.

Although there is no first-day ceremony planned, USPS officials in Hawaii are planning a stamp dedication event with pictorial cancellation at the temple on Jan. 23 at 2 p.m.

Technical details for $6.70 Byodo-In Temple stamp and the $24.70 Sleeping Bear Dunes stamp were not available as this issue of Linn’s was going to press.