US Stamps

2024 U.S. stamp program to honor Year of the Dragon, Underground Railroad, Saul Bellow, more

Oct 25, 2023, 3 PM

By Charles Snee

The United States Postal Service has announced 26 subjects that will appear on 86 stamps in 2024. Descriptions and images of the stamps were revealed in an Oct. 23 press release.

Among the new stamps are additions to the popular Lunar New Year, Black Heritage and Literary Arts series.

Other well-known subjects to be celebrated on next year’s stamps include the U.S. flag, love, flowers, manatees and sea turtles. A $1 stamp will join $2, $5 and $10 denominations in the Floral Geometry series.

Remarkable images of two stellar formations, Pillars of Creation and Cosmic Cliffs, captured by the James Webb Space Telescope will be featured on new Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express stamps.

Constance Baker Motley, the first Black woman to serve as a U.S. federal judge, is set to appear on the 47th Black Heritage stamp, while the Literary Arts series will add to its impressive list with a 3-ounce-rate stamp honoring novelist Saul Bellow.

Pinback buttons and autumn colors will be featured on separate sets of 10 stamps. Another 10-stamp issue honors men and women who escaped slavery and/or helped others escape using the Underground Railroad.

Issues scheduled near the end of the 2024 program include stamps for Christmas (Madonna and Child), Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.

Following are the details of the 26 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 66¢ rate to 68¢ on Jan. 21, 2024.

Lunar New Year — Year of the Rabbit. The fifth issue in the Postal Service’s planned series of 12 features a decorated three-dimensional mask showing the head of a fearsome dragon. The artwork is by Camille Chew, whose decorative animal masks also appear on the 2020 Year of the Rat, 2021 Year of the Ox, 2022 Year of the Tiger and 2023 Year of the Rabbit stamps (Scott 5428, 5556, 5662 and 5744).

According to the Postal Service, Chew’s dragon mask “is a contemporary take on the long tradition of paper-cut folk art crafts created during this auspicious time of year.”

Feb. 10, 2024, heralds the start of the Year of the Dragon.

Love. In 2023, to mark the 50th anniversary of the first U.S. Love stamp (Scott 1474), the Postal Service issued a pair of Love stamps. Next year’s Love stamp will depict “a stylized bird in flight bearing a message of love in its beak,” according to the USPS.

The new Love stamp was designed by USPS art director Antonio Alcala using an original digital illustration by Katie Kirk, who also illustrated the quartet of Winter Woodland Animals stamps issued Oct. 10 in Woodland, Mich.

U.S. Flags. For the second time in two years, the Postal Service will issue a set of stamps featuring images of the U.S. flag. The closely cropped images on the four stamps to be issued in 2024 show the flag waving at different times of the day.

“While the shapes and colors of the clouds change, the sun is always shining on Old Glory,” the USPS said.

The U.S. Flags stamps are to be issued in double-sided panes of 20 (what the USPS calls a booklet) and rolls of 100, 3,000 and 10,000.

Illustrator Laura Stutzman painted the designs using gouache on illustration board, according to the Postal Service.

Constance Baker Motley. The 47th stamp in the popular Black Heritage series pays tribute to Constance Baker Motley (1921-2005), the first African American woman to serve as a federal judge. Motley is also the first Black woman to have argued a case before the Supreme Court of the United States.

The stamp shows a portrait of Motley by Charly Palmer. “The stenciled circular shapes create a subtle crowning effect, and the heavy brushstrokes and scratches add texture to the acrylic-on-canvas work,” the Postal Service said. USPS art director Derry Noyes designed the stamp.

Floral Geometry. A $1 stamp will join the $2 and $5 Floral Geometry stamps (Scott 5700-5701) issued in 2022 and the $10 Floral Geometry stamp (5755) that debuted in 2023. Like its three predecessors, the $1 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 Postal Service said. “The watercolor background and the glimmer of the foil-stamped design and typography create a sophisticated look.”

Like the $2 Floral Geometry stamp, the $1 Floral Geometry stamp will be issued in panes of 10.

Pillars of Creation. A Priority Mail stamp will showcase a high-definition infrared image of the Pillars of Creation, a formation within the Eagle Nebula, that was taken by the James Webb Space Telescope.

“Red areas toward the end of the pillars show burgeoning stars ejecting raw materials as they form, while the relatively small red orbs scattered throughout the image show newly born stars,” the USPS said.

Postal Service art director Greg Breeding designed the stamp using an image provided by NASA and the European Space Agency, Canadian Space Agency and Space Telescope Science Institute.

Cosmic Cliffs. A second image from the Webb telescope will appear on a new Priority Mail Express stamp. That picture is a “digitally colored depiction of the invisible bands of mid-infrared light emitted by the Cosmic Cliffs of the Carina Nebula,” according to the Postal Service.

“Additional stars, in our Milky Way and in distant galaxies, appear in the blue and black regions above and beyond the nebula,” the USPS said.

Breeding designed the Cosmic Cliffs Priority Mail Express stamp using an image from the same sources that supplied the image for the Pillars of Creation Priority Mail stamp.

The forthcoming Pillars of Creation and Cosmic Cliffs stamps represent the end of the American Landmarks series of Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express stamps that began in 2008. All the American Landmarks stamps feature poster-style illustrations by Chicago-based artist Dan Cosgrove.

“The Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express stamps are now featuring a new design direction using images from the Webb telescope,” Jim McKean, senior public relations representative for the USPS, told Linn's Stamp News.

Flowers. A new series of low-denomination stamps picturing flowers will arrive in 2024. The 1¢, 2¢, 3¢, 5¢ and 10¢ stamps picture a fringed tulip, daffodils, peonies, red tulips and poppies, respectively. All five stamps will be issued in panes of 20 and coil rolls of 10,000.

Photographer Harold Davis used “innovative technology with digital painting and photographic techniques” to create the images that Kessler used to design the stamps, according to the USPS.

Save Manatees. A single forever stamp showing a digital image of a manatee bobbing near the surface of the water will be issued to raise awareness of the threats faced by this marine mammal.

“Human vigilance is crucial for its protection — both to minimize motorboat strikes and to maintain the aquatic plants on which the manatee feeds in the warm coastal waters in and around Florida,” the Postal Service said.

Noyes designed the stamp using an original graphic by illustrator Nancy Stahl. The Save Manatees stamp will be printed in double-sided panes of 20.

Underground Railroad. Ten stamps commemorating the Underground Railroad will feature 10 sepia-toned portraits of men and women who escaped slavery and/or assisted others to do the same: Catharine Coffin, Frederick Douglass, Thomas Garrett, Laura Haviland, Lewis Hayden, Harriet Jacobs, William Lambert, Jermain Loguen, William Still and Harriet Tubman.

According to the USPS, the back of the pane of 20 (two of each stamp) illustrates “a map showing the general routes freedom seekers followed and a list of individuals pictured on the stamps with a few words of biographical information about each.”

Radiant Star. A single coil stamp for presorted standard mail will be printed in coil rolls of 3,000 and 10,000. The eye-catching design by Carol Beehler pictures red and white stripes radiating from a blue star in the center. The USPS said two shades of blue were used for the star to give it a three-dimensional appearance.

Wedding Blooms. Vibrantly colored flowers from an existing illustration by artist Kim Parker are the subject of a stamp to be issued for the 2-ounce first-class letter rate.

The stamp “can be used to accommodate the weight of heavy invitations for birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and other celebrations; oversized greeting cards; and small gifts that require extra postage,” the Postal Service said.

Celebration Blooms. This forever stamp also features an illustration of colored flowers by Parker.

“Similar in design to the … Wedding Blooms stamp, this floral Forever stamp can be used on the RSVP envelopes often enclosed with wedding invitations,” the USPS said. “A beautiful addition to regular correspondence, it is also ideal for party invitations, thank-you notes and important announcements.”

Garden Delights. Photographs of different female ruby-throated hummingbirds hovering close to either a zinnia, cigar flower, spotted touch-me-not or sunflower will grace four stamps to be issued in double-sided panes of 20. Breeding designed the stamps using existing pictures by wildlife photographer Ben King.

Saul Bellow. The 34th stamp in the Literary Arts series will salute novelist Saul Bellow (1915-2005), who won three National Book Awards and the 1976 Nobel Prize in literature.

The stamp features artist Joe Ciardiello’s portrait of Bellow in pen, ink and watercolor, which is based on photographs from 1982, according to the USPS. In the background is a street scene of Chicago, where Bellow resided for most of his life.

The stamp is inscribed “three ounce” to indicate it will always satisfy the 3-ounce rate for a first-class letter. That rate, currently $1.14, will rise with the expected postal rate increases on Jan. 21.

Pinback Buttons. According to the USPS, 10 round stamps in a pane of 20 will feature “designs by 10 different artists in their unique styles, each with a single word as the prominent element –– smile (Don Clark), hello! (Tré Seals), peace (Jay Fletcher), love (Juan Carlos Pagan), fun (Gia Graham), sweet (Jeff Rogers), yes! (Ryan Feerer), cheers! (Lisa Congdon), kudos! (DKNG Studios) and happy (Gina Triplett).”

On the back of the pane (not shown) is an “illustration of a round silver button back with pin fastener repeated 20 times, one for each pinback button stamp shown on the front of the pane,” the Postal Service said.

Protect Sea Turtles. Six stamps to be printed in a pane of 18 showcase photographs of six species of sea turtles: loggerhead, leatherback, hawksbill, Kemp’s ridley, olive ridley and green sea turtle.

“This issuance encourages the protection of sea turtles, one of the oldest groups of animals on Earth,” the USPS said.

All six turtles shown on the stamps are listed and protected under the 1973 Endangered Species Act, according to the Postal Service.

Shaker Design. In 2024, in recognition of the 250th anniversary of the arrival of the first Shakers in the United States, the Postal Service will issue 12 stamps showing photos of Shaker furniture, houses and other items.

According to the USPS, the items depicted on the stamps emphasize simplicity and utility, the key elements of Shaker design. Noyes designed the stamps using existing pictures by Michael Freeman.

Horses. Five stamps in a pane of 20 will show photos of five different horses, with a sixth horse pictured in the decorative selvage margin.

“Once instrumental in the early economic development of the United States, horses are now valued athletes and loyal companions, and are important in law enforcement, forestry, entertainment, equine therapy and cattle ranching,” the Postal Service said.

Noyes designed the stamps using existing photographs by Stephanie Moon and Karen Wegehenkel.

Bluegrass. A single forever stamp featuring original artwork by Heather Moulder will celebrate bluegrass music.

The USPS said Moulder’s art “includes four of the string instruments typically used by bluegrass bands: guitar, fiddle, five-string banjo and mandolin.”

First Continental Congress. The USPS will recognize the 250th anniversary of the First Continental Congress with a forever stamp featuring a famous quote from the congress’ protest letter to King George III of England, “We ask but for Peace, Liberty and Safety.”

“In addition to denouncing taxation without representation, the Congress called for a general boycott of British goods,” the Postal Service said. “It also issued a declaration of rights that included life, liberty, property and trial by jury, and laid the foundation for government during the American Revolution.”

Autumn Colors. Photographs of the vibrant colors of fall that were taken around the United States are the subject of 10 forever stamps to be issued in a pane of 20. The photos are from the portfolio of esteemed nature and garden photographer Allen Rokach (1941-2021).

Christmas Madonna and Child. The 2024 Christmas stamp to be issued in double-sided panes of 20 illustrates a painting of the Madonna and Child from the workshop of Giovanni Battista Salvi Sassoferrato (1609-85) that resides in the collection of the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields in Indianapolis.

“It is not known whether [Sassoferrato] painted this work or if it was painted by another artist in his workshop,” the Postal Service said.

Hanukkah. This new stamp for the Jewish holiday, also known as the Festival of Lights, features “a graphic depiction of a hanukiah, the nine-branch candelabra used only at Hanukkah,” the Postal Service said.

The design of the stamp is primarily in blue and white, colors that are common to Hanukkah. The nine yellow candle flames appear to hover over the hanukiah.

Hanukkah is an eight-day celebration that falls on the eve of the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev. In 2024, Hanukkah will begin Dec. 25.

Kwanzaa. The Postal Service’s 10th stamp celebrating the annual pan-African holiday will depict a male drummer and two female dancers. Kwanzaa is observed from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1.

“The art [on the stamp] was inspired by a live performance witnessed by the artist, Ekua Holmes, during a Kwanzaa event,” the USPS said

Winter Whimsy. Bailey Sullivan’s graphic designs mimicking snowflakes are the subject of four stamps to be issued in a double-sided booklet of 20.

“Each stamp in the block of four includes a unique design in white against a background of a single color: navy blue, teal, tan or dark blue-green,” the Postal Service said. Breeding served as art director for the Winter Whimsy stamps.

“This is a partial list [of the 2024 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 2024 U.S. stamp program, including issue dates, will be provided in future issues of Linn’s Stamp News.

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