USPS announces 2023 U.S. stamp program
By Charles Snee
The United States Postal Service has announced 23 subjects that will appear on more than 80 stamps in 2023. Descriptions and images of the stamps were revealed in an Oct. 24 press release.
Among the new stamps are additions to the popular Lunar New Year and Black Heritage series.
Other well-known subjects to be celebrated on next year’s stamps include the U.S. flag, love, flowers, waterfalls and pinatas. A new 40¢ stamp for use by bulk mailers will picture a red fox.
The 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act will be marked with a pane of 20 stamps.
Five Iconic railroad stations will be illustrated on five new stamps, and a quartet of snow globes will grace stamps that likely will be issued for the busy holiday mailing season.
Novelist Ernest J. Gaines is set to appear on the 46th Black Heritage stamp, while former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be honored on a commemorative forever stamp.
A set of five stamps will illustrate artwork by Roy Lichtenstein, an icon of the pop art movement, and acclaimed author Toni Morrison will be honored with a single stamp.
In 2022, the USPS celebrated women’s rowing with four stamps. Women’s soccer will be recognized with a single stamp in 2023.
One of the most recognizable vehicles on the road, the school bus, will be featured on a stamp for the additional-ounce rate.
Following are the details of the 23 issues unveiled so far, based in part on the Postal Service’s descriptions. Unless otherwise noted, the stamps are nondenominated forever stamps, which are expected to rise from the current 60¢ rate to 63¢ on Jan. 22, 2023.
Lunar New Year — Year of the Rabbit. The fourth issue in the Postal Service’s planned series of 12 features a decorated three-dimensional mask showing the head of a colorful rabbit. The artwork is by Camille Chew, whose decorative animal masks also appear on the 2020 Year of the Rat and 2021 Year of the Ox and 2022 Year of the Tiger stamps (Scott 5428, 5556 and 5662).
According to the Postal Service, Chew’s rabbit mask “is a contemporary take on the long tradition of paper-cut folk art crafts created during this auspicious time of year.”
The Year of the Rabbit will begin on Jan. 22, 2023.
Love. In recognition of the 50th anniversary of the first U.S. Love stamp (Scott 1474), the USPS is issuing a pair of Love stamps. One features a kitten, and the other pictures a puppy. Both are resting their front paws on a Valentine’s heart. The word “LOVE” appears behind each animal.
“The stamp designs were painted with oils on wood panel, then scanned and edited digitally,” the Postal Service said.
Great Smoky Mountains. The American Landmarks series of Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express stamps that began in 2008 continues in 2023 with a $26.95 Priority Mail Express stamp showing a scene in the Great Smoky Mountains near Newfound Gap between Gatlinburg, Tenn., and Cherokee, N.C., according to the USPS.
“Home to the most visited national park in the United States, the Great Smoky Mountains boast extensive national forests and a vast array of native plants and animals,” the USPS said.
The new $26.95 Great Smoky Mountains stamp is the 28th issue in the American Landmarks series. All stamps in the series feature Dan Cosgrove’s vibrantly colored artwork.
U.S. Flag. A new definitive (regular-issue) forever stamp picturing the U.S. flag and the word “Freedom” in capital letters below it is to be issued in panes of 20, booklets of 20 and rolls of 100, 3,000 and 10,000 coil stamps. The various formats will likely result in multiple Scott catalog listings. The stamp was designed using existing artwork by Hong Li.
Ernest J. Gaines. The 46th stamp in the Black Heritage series pays tribute to author Ernest J. Gaines (1933-2019). The stamp pictures a painting based on a 2001 photograph.
Among Gaines’ best-known works are The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and A Lesson Before Dying.
According to the Postal Service, “Gaines drew from his childhood as the son of sharecroppers on a Louisiana plantation to explore the untold stories of rural African Americans, adding a vital voice to American literature.”
A recipient of the National Humanities Medal, Gaines died at the age of 86 at his home in Oscar, La.
Sculptor Edmonia Lewis (circa 1844-1907) was the subject of last year’s Black Heritage commemorative stamp (Scott 5663).
Floral Geometry. A $10 stamp will join the $2 and $5 Floral Geometry stamps (Scott 5700-5701) issued in 2022. Like its two predecessors, the $10 Floral Geometry stamp was designed by Spaeth Hill, a contemporary design firm in Alexandria, Va.
The stamp showcases “a series of overlapping geometric shapes that mimic the symmetry of floral patterns found in nature. The watercolor background and the glimmer of the foil-stamped design and typography create a sophisticated look,” the Postal Service said.
Like the $5 Floral Geometry stamp, the $10 Floral Geometry stamp will be issued in panes of four.
Pinatas. Four stamps in a booklet of 20 will highlight colorful digital illustrations of two traditional pinata designs: a donkey and a seven-point star.
Artist Victor Melendez’s “color palette [for the stamps] was inspired by Mexican culture, including the vibrant colors of small-town houses, traditional hand-sewn dresses, handmade toys and flowers, and classic piñatas themselves,” the USPS said.
Red Fox. A new 40¢ stamp to be sold in panes of 20 and coil rolls of 3,000 and 10,000 pictures a portrait of a red fox based on a pencil-and-watercolor illustration from pre-existing artwork by Dugald Stermer (1936-2011).
According to the Postal Service, the 40¢ Red Fox stamp is intended for use by organizations that mail large quantities of items such as catalogs, circulars and newsletters. The stamp is also valid for use on other mailings such as envelopes and packages.
Sailboats. A pair of coil stamps for the postcard rate feature artist Libby VanderPloeg’s “abstract illustrations that capture the joyful sensation of being on the water on a beautiful day,” the USPS said.
VanderPloeg used a digital tablet to create the cursive “postcard” inscription that appears beneath the sailboat on each stamp.
Snow Globes. Four stamps picture Gregory Manchess’ original oil paintings of Christmas snow globes. According to the Postal Service, the four spherical snow globes on the stamps feature “a snowman wearing a jaunty red-and-white scarf; Santa Claus on a rooftop preparing to climb down the chimney; a reindeer standing in a snowy forest; and a snowy tree decorated with colorful ornaments.”
Thinking of You. These five stamps featuring artwork by Ellen Surrey are intended to be used on letters or cards sent to brighten the recipient’s day. The stamps will be issued in a pane of 20 that will include what the USPS calls “a host of die-cut, self-adhesive messages” in the selvage.
“Each stamp is designed in fun colors with different whimsical images, including flowers, balloons, cute animals, sweet treats and symbols of good luck,” the Postal Service said.
“Words of encouragement and thoughtful affirmations surround the stamps on the pane.”
Tulip Blossoms. Closely cropped photographs of tulips in bloom are pictured on 10 stamps to be issued in a booklet of 20. The photos were taken by Denise Ippolito.
Each stamp shows a single blossom and a trace of its stem, almost filling the entire frame of each stamp.
Tulips have appeared on several U.S. stamps over the years. For example, a single tulip against a yellow background appears on the F-rate (29¢) stamps (Scott 2517-2520) and 29¢ stamps (2524-2527) issued in 1991 following the rate increase that moved the postage cost for a first-class letter from 25¢ to 29¢.
Winter Woodland Animals. Graphic illustrations of a deer, rabbit, owl and fox take center stage on four new stamps to be issued in a booklet of 20. Illustrator Katie Kirk portrays the animals in different woodland settings.
Chief Standing Bear. A single commemorative forever stamp honors Chief Standing Bear (circa 1829-1908), “who won a landmark court ruling in 1879 that determined that Native Americans were persons under the law with inherent rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” according to the USPS.
Thomas Blackshear II’s portrait of Chief Standing Bear is based on a black-and-white photograph taken in 1877. Blackshear relied on contemporary descriptions for the colors of Standing Bear’s attire.
Endangered Species. A pane of 20 stamps showcases what the USPS calls a “photographic portfolio of 20 representative endangered species.” The stamps will recognize the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act.
Among the animals shown on the stamps are the black-footed ferret, Key Largo cotton mouse, Wyoming toad and Guam Micronesian kingfisher.
More than 1,300 plant and animal species are currently protected under the Endangered Species Act.
“The images [on the stamps] are among more than 13,000 in photographer Joel Sartore’s ‘Photo Ark,’ his project to document as many animal species as possible,” according to the Postal Service.
Railroad Stations. Five stamps celebrate the following notable stations: Tamaqua Station in Pennsylvania; Point of Rocks Station in Maryland; Main Street Station in Richmond, Va.; Santa Fe Station in San Bernardino, Calif.; and Union Station in Cincinnati, Ohio.
According to the USPS, passenger trains stop at all of the stations except Tamaqua.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg. One of the most consequential jurists of her generation, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-2020) is featured on a commemorative forever stamp.
The Postal Service provided this brief biography of Ginsburg: “After beginning her career as an activist lawyer fighting gender discrimination, Justice Ginsburg became a respected jurist whose important majority opinions advancing equality and strong dissents on socially controversial rulings made her a passionate proponent of equal justice and an icon of American culture.”
The stamp shows Michael J. Deas’ oil painting of Ginsburg in her judicial robe and distinctive white collar.
Toni Morrison. Morrison (1931-2019), who became the first African American woman to win the Nobel Prize in literature (1993), is shown on a single commemorative forever stamp. The design features a photograph of the author taken in 2000 by Deborah Feingold.
“Known for such books as ‘The Bluest Eye,’ ‘Song of Solomon’ and ‘Beloved,’ Morrison was the rare author who achieved both bestseller status and critical success,” the USPS said.
Roy Lichtenstein. Five stamps to be issued in a pane of 20 celebrate works by the legendary artist of the pop art movement.
According to the Postal Service, the works shown on the stamps are Standing Explosion (Red), a porcelain enamel on steel sculpture from 1965; Modern Painting I, an acrylic, oil and graphite pencil on canvas from 1966; Still Life with Crystal Bowl, an acrylic, oil and graphite pencil on canvas from 1972; Still Life with Goldfish, an acrylic, oil and graphite pencil on canvas from 1972; and Portrait of a Woman, an acrylic, oil and graphite pencil on canvas from 1979.
A photograph of Lichtenstein by Bob Adelman appears in the selvage of the pane. Also visible in the photo is a model of Lichtenstein’s 1983 sculpture Brushstrokes in Flight, the USPS said.
Waterfalls. A pane of 12 stamps pictures stunning photographs of waterfalls in the states of Arizona (Deer Creek Falls), California (Nevada Fall), Pennsylvania (Harrison Wright Falls), Wyoming (Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River), Hawaii, (Wiamoku Falls), Utah (Stewart Falls), New York (Niagara Falls), Virginia (Dark Hollow Falls), Tennessee (Grotto Falls), Washington (Sunbeam Falls), Illinois (LaSalle Canyon Waterfall) and North Carolina (Upper Falls).
Women’s Soccer. This single stamp salutes women’s soccer in the United States. “The graphic stamp artwork depicts a female soccer player in action, walloping a ball with a side volley,” the USPS said.
“The somewhat grainy rendering lends a timeless quality to the design, evoking not just a single all-star athlete or era but the entire legacy of women’s soccer.”
School Bus. A single stamp for the additional-ounce rate “celebrates the iconic yellow school bus and its role in ensuring that millions of children get to school and home again every day,” according to the USPS. The School Bus stamp will be available in panes of 20 and rolls of 100 coil stamps.
Patriotic Block. A single coil stamp intended for use on mass mailings by nonprofit organizations pictures “the components of the American flag — the stars and stripes — arranged in a four-quadrant block on a white background,” according to the Postal Service.
The Patriotic Block coil stamp will be sold in large rolls of 3,000 and 10,000.
USPS art directors credited for the announced 2023 stamps are Antonio Alcala (Year of the Rabbit, U.S. Flag, Floral Geometry, Pinatas, Sailboats, Winter Woodland Animals, Women’s Soccer, Patriotic Block), Ethel Kessler (Love, Red Fox, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Toni Morrison), Derry Noyes (Snow Globes, Chief Standing Bear, Endangered Species, Railroad Stations, Roy Lichtenstein), and Greg Breeding (Great Smoky Mountains, Ernest J. Gaines, Thinking of You, Tulip Blossoms, Waterfalls, School Bus).
“This is a partial list [of the 2023 stamp program],” the USPS said, “with more to be revealed in the weeks and months ahead. All stamp designs are preliminary and subject to change.”
Additional information about the 2023 U.S. stamp program, including issue dates, will be provided in future issues of Linn’s Stamp News.
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