US Stamps

Elegant simplicity of Shaker design to grace 12 stamps June 20 at Hancock Shaker Village

Jun 12, 2024, 10 AM

By Charles Snee

In honor of the 250th anniversary of the arrival of the first Shakers in America, the United States Postal Service will issue a set of 12 forever commemorative stamps featuring photos by Michael Freeman of various elements of Shaker design.

Stefanie A. Curry, postmaster of Pittsfield, Mass., will host the June 20 first-day ceremony that will commence at noon Eastern Daylight Time at the Hancock Shaker Village, 1843 W. Housatonic St., in Pittsfield.

Collectors wishing to attend the ceremony are asked to register online with the USPS.

Hancock Shaker Village is a fitting location for the stamps’ debut because four of them picture items located there.

The Shaker Design stamps will be issued in a pane of 12. Pictured here is a USPS preliminary image of the block of 12 consisting of three rows of four stamps each.

In a May 24 media advisory, the Postal Service provided the following about the subjects of the stamps:

“The first row showcases, from left, a meeting room at Hancock Shaker Village, Pittsfield, MA; the tannery at the Shaker Village of Mount Lebanon, New Lebanon, NY; a spinning wheel from Fruitlands Museum, Harvard, MA; and staircases in the Trustees’ Office and Guest House at the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, Harrodsburg, KY.

“The second row features, from left, a dwelling house hallway and silk neckerchiefs from South Union Shaker Village, Auburn, KY; a rocking chair from Canterbury Shaker Village, Canterbury, NH; and the ‘swallowtail’ joints of a bentwood box from Hancock Shaker Village, Pittsfield.

“The third row highlights, from left, a heater stove at Hancock Shaker Village, Pittsfield; a cupboard with bentwood boxes and a collection of bentwood boxes and carriers at Fruitlands Museum, Harvard; and cheese baskets in the dairy at Hancock Shaker Village, Pittsfield.”

As shown above, the Shaker Design pane features decorative selvage that shows a photo of an elderly man to the right of the 12 stamps. “Shaker Design” is shown in white serif letters above the stamps.

According to the Postal Service, the selvage photo was taken around 1935 by Samuel Kravitt. The picture shows “Brother Ricardo Belden (1868-1958) in his workshop at Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield,” the USPS said.

“Shakers imbued everything they made with uncommon grace,” the USPS said. “From modest oval boxes to furniture, textiles and even architecture, they created pieces renowned worldwide for their impeccable quality.”

Production details in the May 16 Postal Bulletin state that Ashton Potter (USA) Ltd. of Williamsville, N.Y., printed 18 million Shaker Design stamps (1.5 million of each design) that were finished into panes of 12 and die-cut and imperforate uncut press sheets of nine panes each.

The panes of 12 are available at post offices and other outlets authorized by the Postal Service to sell stamps. Shaker Design press sheets must be ordered from the Postal Service’s Stamp Fulfillment Services Center in Kansas City, Mo. Both types of press sheets sell for $73.44, the face value of the 108 stamps in a single sheet. …

The Postal Service also has prepared two pictorial postmarks as first-day cancels for the Shaker Design stamps.

The black postmark is applied free, up to a quantity of 50, to most collector-submitted covers. There is a 5¢ charge for each additional postmark over 50.

The postmark features the first-day location details within a simple frame with beveled corners.

A full color pictorial postmark is also available. The first-day details are set against a dark brown background that features a pattern similar to that shown on the fourth stamp in the second row of the pane.

The color postmark can be obtained by collectors on envelopes made from laser-safe paper. There is an order minimum of 10 envelopes with a fee of 50¢ per postmark. The Postal Bulletin provides additional ordering information.

Both postmarks are also applied to first-day covers manufactured and sold by the Postal Service.

All requests for Shaker Design first-day cancels must be postmarked by Oct. 20.

To read the full story about the new Shaker Design stamps, subscribe to Linn’s Stamp News.

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