New U.S. 4¢ Fruit definitive features plump blueberries
By Charles Snee
A succulent cluster of four blueberries and leaves takes center stage on a United States 4¢ definitive (regular-issue) stamp to be issued Jan. 9 in Blue Hill, Maine.
U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman Sara Martin told Linn’s that an official first-day ceremony is not planned.
The unadorned design is based on a pen, ink and watercolor illustration by Massachusetts artist John Burgoyne. The plump berries are rendered in exquisite detail, giving them an almost lifelike appearance.
Just three additional elements are included on the stamp: the denomination at top left, “USA” at bottom right and a “2022” year date at bottom left. The overall effect produces an engaging design that draws the eye in without being distracting.
Derry Noyes of Washington, D.C., served as both art director and designer of the 4¢ Blueberries stamp.
According to the U.S. Postal Service, three formats of the self-adhesive stamp will be available: a pane of 20 and rolls of 3,000 and 10,000 coil stamps. All three formats were printed and processed by Banknote Corporation of America in Browns Summit, N.C.
Collectors will be able to purchase a strip of 500 of the 4¢ Blueberries coil stamp (roll of 3,000 or 10,000) from the U.S. Postal Service. Details are provided in Linn’s U.S. Stamp Program.
The intact large rolls of 4¢ Blueberries coil stamps will appeal to organizations such as the Disabled American Veterans that often use colorful frankings of low-denomination coil stamps on their postage-paid reply envelopes to encourage more recipients to send in a donation.
The 4¢ Blueberries stamp will join the other stamps in the low-denomination Fruits definitive series (2016 to present) that picture Burgoyne’s illustrations of Albemarle pippin apples (Scott 5037), Meyer lemons (5256), strawberries (5201), pinot noir grapes (5038, 5177) and red pears (5039, 5178).
According to a short biography, Burgoyne is a member of the New York Society of Illustrators and an alumnus of the Massachusetts College of Art and has won more than 100 awards in the United States and Europe.
Many of his illustrations have appeared prominently in Cook’s Illustrated magazine.
Along with the nine stamps in the Fruit definitive series, Burgoyne also illustrated a set of four 33¢ Apples stamps issued Jan. 17, 2013, in a pane of 20 (Scott 4727-4730). The same four designs were also issued as coil stamps in a roll of 100 (4731-4734). The 33¢ denomination satisfied the rate for a postcard at the time.
The Fruit series was launched Jan. 17, 2016, when the 10¢ Red Pears stamp was issued in a coil of 10,000 (Scott 5039). The 5¢ Pinot Noir Grapes coil (5038) and 1¢ Albemarle Pippin Apples coil (5037) also were issued in 2016, on Feb. 19 and Aug. 12, respectively.
The Fruit series is methodically replacing stamps from the American Design definitive series that debuted in 2002 with a 5¢ coil picturing a toleware coffeepot (Scott 3612). That earlier series produced some 20 major varieties of lower denomination stamps with six different designs.
It is fitting that the first-day city for the 4¢ Blueberries stamp is in Maine, which is well known for its wild blueberries. Wild blueberry pie is Maine’s official state dessert.
According to Visit Maine, the wild blueberry is “native to Maine and thrives in its glacier-churned soil and challenging seasons.”
“These hardy little berries are generally smaller than their high-bush cousins and, say their advocates, are juicier and more flavorful as well. Among the wild blueberry’s benefits for health and nutrition are that they’re packed with natural anti-oxidants.”
Blueberries made their initial appearance on a U.S. stamp in 1999, as one of the four 33¢ Berries stamps that were issued in 1999 and 2000 in booklet and coil formats (Scott 3294-3305, 3404-3407).
More recently, a shallow bowl of blueberries is illustrated on one of the 10 nondenominated (55¢) Fruits and Vegetables booklet stamps issued in 2020 (Scott 5484-5493).
Based on production details from the USPS, it is likely that two Scott catalog numbers will be assigned to the 4¢ Blueberries issue: one for the pane stamp and one for the corresponding coil stamp in rolls of 3,000 and 10,000. Catalog numbers are not assigned until the Scott editors have examined the issued stamps.
Collectors planning to submit covers for first-day cancels are reminded that each cover must be franked with the current 58¢ first-class letter rate. In this case, an additional 54¢ postage must be added to each cover bearing a 4¢ Blueberries stamp.
Collector-submitted envelopes for first-day covers will receive a traditional black four-bar cancel with the words “FIRST DAY OF ISSUE” centered between the bars. A full color pictorial first-day postmark is not being offered, according to the Postal Service.
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