US Stamps

Jay Bigalke

Rocky Mountain high for O Beautiful stamp issue

July 27, 2018 11:30 AM

  • The official unveiling of the United States O Beautiful commemorative forever stamps was held July 4 in Colorado Springs, Colo. Photo by David Rupert, U.S. Postal Service Colorado corporate communications team member.
  • At the Colorado Springs event where the O Beautiful stamps first-day ceremony was held, the U.S. Postal Service had a retail truck (left) and a tent for cancellations (right). Photo by Carl Troy.
  • The Postal Service handed out paddle fans to the crowd at the O Beautiful ceremony. Enterprising collector Carl Troy affixed a matching stamp to a fan and had it first-day canceled. Photo by Carl Troy.

By Jay Bigalke

The United States Postal Service issued 20 new commemorative forever stamps July 4 in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Compared to many recent U.S. first-day ceremonies, the O Beautiful stamps didn’t receive the same amount of national attention. There was no live stream on Facebook via the USPS page, and the Postal Service didn’t have an official headquarters photographer present.

The lack of attention seemed to relate to having the ceremony on a holiday, Independence Day. In this case, the July 4 date was fitting for the stamp issue. The stamp designs show photographs reflecting the lyrics of America the Beautiful, which were first published as a poem by Katharine Lee Bates in the July 4, 1895, issue of The Congregationalist newspaper.

The stamp ceremony was held at 7:30 p.m. as part of the Colorado Springs Philharmonic’s July 4th Summer Symphony event at Memorial Park in central Colorado Springs.

Stamp collector Carl Troy shared details of the event with Linn’s. Local television stations estimated the crowd size at 10,000.

Troy reported that only about 200 to 300 people likely received ceremony programs. The number of programs available “didn’t go far among thousands of event attendees,” according to Troy.

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The ceremony included a presentation of colors, the national anthem performed by the Colorado Springs Symphonic Orchestra, and speeches with an unveiling of the stamps.

He said speakers noted the appropriateness of the ceremony venue, the issue date, and the sight of Pike’s Peak “looming off to the west” where the song’s lyrics were inspired in 1893.

The Postal Service created paddle fans for the event, according to Troy.

“I got a handful and was evidently the first one to think of affixing stamps and having them first-day postmarked!” he said. “USPS staff thought it quite ‘cool’ and thanked me for the suggestion.”

The U.S. Postal Service had a mobile unit truck set up on the site to sell the stamps and products. A cancellation area was in a tent nearby.

Timothy T. De La Vega, the photographer who captured the image used for the Shining Sea stamp showing the Napali Coast State Wilderness Park on Kauai, was on hand to sign stamps and covers.

Linn’s new issue story about the O Beautiful stamps was published on the front page of the July 2 issue.