US Stamps

Brush rabbit featured on new U.S. additional ounce stamp

Jan 1, 2021, 9 AM

By Michael Baadke

A new United States stamp will be issued Jan. 24 to fulfill the postage rate for an additional ounce of first-class domestic letter mail.

That rate will increase from 15¢ to 20¢ on the day the stamp is being issued.

The nondenominated (20¢) Brush Rabbit stamp will be sold in a coil of 100 and in a pane of 20, resulting in two distinct varieties. Both versions are printed by Ashton Potter (USA) Ltd., a U.S. Postal Service contractor.

Additional ounce stamps are most commonly used when a letter that normally would be mailed at the first-tier domestic rate of 55¢ has just enough additional weight to take it beyond 1 ounce, requiring extra postage.

The stamp features the image of a brush rabbit (Sylvilagus bachmani).

“The pencil-and-watercolor illustration is from pre-existing artwork by designer and illustrator Dugald Stermer (1936-2011),” according to the Postal Service. “The brush rabbit is a small brownish cottontail rabbit of the U.S. West Coast and Baja California, Mexico.”

USPS art director Ethel Kessler designed the stamp.

Stermer was an acclaimed illustrator in San Francisco and former art director of the political magazine Ramparts. As a freelance artist, he later created illustrations for numerous publications and also designed the medals for the 1984 Olympic Summer Games in Los Angeles.

“He rendered his subjects in such rich color and intricate detail, they appeared nearly alive,” Stephanie Lee wrote in a remembrance of Stermer in the San Francisco Gate after the artist’s death in 2011.

The stamp design shows the rabbit facing left in a relaxed crouch with its ears up and facing outward. The common name “BRUSH RABBIT” is lettered beneath the animal, with its scientific name “Sylvilagus bachmani” lettered in a gentle curve following along the rabbit’s upper back.

Both of these notations are made in the artist’s hand.

Typography at upper right spells out “USA” and “Additional Ounce” in gray sans serif letters.

The new stamp is the second nondenominated U.S. stamp to show a single rabbit in little more than three months.

The Cottontail Rabbit forever stamp (Scott 5539) from the Winter Scenes set of 10 was issued Oct. 16, 2020.

A solo rabbit was also pictured on a forever stamp from the 2016 Pets set of 20 (Scott 5112).

Less realistic rabbits have been featured on multiple Lunar New Year stamps, in two different sets of Bugs Bunny stamps, and as a tiny handheld friend for the monkey Curious George on a 39¢ stamp in the 2006 Children’s Book Animals set (Scott 3992).

In recent years it seems like stamp rabbits have been, well, multiplying like rabbits.

Sacramento, Calif., has been announced as the official first-day city for the new Brush Rabbit stamp, but to date there is no indication that a USPS ceremony will take place for this rate-change issue.

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