US Stamps

Voting begins in Linn’s 2022 U.S. stamp popularity poll

Dec 3, 2022, 8 AM

By Charles Snee

In 2022, the United States Postal Service issued 121 varieties of stamps, just nine more than were issued for the 2021 program. Of this total, 71 are commemoratives and 50 are definitive (regular-issue) and special stamps. Special stamps are issued to recognize occasions such as weddings and the Christmas holiday season. The Postal Service did not issue any postal stationery items (stamped envelopes or postal cards) during the past year.

For comparison, 112 varieties were released in 2021, 117 in 2020 and 2019, 105 in 2018, 128 in 2017 and 154 in 2016.

Among the notable subjects honored on 2022 stamps are a renowned sculptor of African American and Native American descent, a celebrated children’s author, highlights along the Mississippi River, mariachi music, national marine sanctuaries, pony cars and much more.

Unless stated otherwise, the stamps described are denominated “forever,” meaning they will always satisfy the current first-class mail rate for a 1-ounce letter. The current first-class letter rate, 60¢, went into effect July 10. On Jan. 22, the first-class rate will increase to 63¢.


The Postal Service launched its 2022 commemorative offerings with a familiar subject: the Lunar New Year.

The Postal Service inaugurated a new 12-stamp Lunar New Year series Jan. 11, 2020, when it issued a single commemorative celebrating the Year of the Rat. The Year of the Ox was featured on the 2021 Lunar New Year stamp. The series continued this year with the Year of the Tiger commemorative issued Feb. 2.

All three stamps feature a three-dimensional ceremonial mask by Camille Chew, who has been tapped to create mask artwork for all 12 stamps in the series.

The series chronicles the full zodiac cycle of lunar years observed in many Asian cultures. Each year in the repeating cycle is identified and characterized by a specific animal.

A Lunar New Year stamp for the Year of the Rabbit is expected early in the 2023 program. The lunar Year of the Rabbit will start Jan. 22, 2023.

Edmonia Lewis, the first sculptor of African American and Native American descent to achieve international recognition, is celebrated on the 45th issue in the long-running Black Heritage commemorative series.

According to the USPS, the stamp artwork is a casein-paint portrait of Lewis based on an Augustus Marshall photograph of the artist taken in Boston sometime between 1864 and 1871.

Although most of Lewis’ sculptures have not survived, several now reside in the collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. One of the most important, The Death of Cleopatra, is on display in the Luce Foundation Center on the third floor of the museum.

The 13¢ Harriet Tubman stamp (Scott 1744) inaugurated the Black Heritage series in 1978. Esteemed playwright August Wilson was honored on last year’s Black Heritage stamp.

The series has commemorated individuals from the worlds of sports, civil rights activism, politics, business, literature and the arts, and more.

On March 3, the Postal Service issued four forever commemorative stamps in recognition of the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the landmark 1972 civil rights law that forbids discrimination on the basis of sex in educational programs that receive federal funding.

Artist Melinda Beck designed the Title IX stamps, which picture a dark blue silhouette of one of four female athletes: a runner, swimmer, gymnast and soccer player. Each silhouette is set against a turquoise background that encourages the viewer’s eye to focus on the image of each athlete. Yellow laurel branches meant to symbolize victory are seen on the athletes’ hair and the swimmer’s cap.

Representations of female athletes have appeared on U.S. stamps over the years. Many of these stamps were issued for the Olympic Games held in the summer and winter at regular intervals.

Beloved children’s author and illustrator Shel Silverstein is honored on a commemorative stamp issued April 8 at a Chicago elementary school he attended as a young boy. Silverstein was born in Chicago on Sept. 25, 1930.

Although the stamp is a tribute to Silverstein, it also celebrates what is arguably the author’s best-known work, The Giving Tree, which Harper & Row first published in 1964.

Silverstein’s drawing of a boy in overalls waiting with outstretched arms to catch a ripe apple from the tree that adores him is set against a bright green background.

Missing from the stamp’s design, however, is the tree that appears on the cover of the book. In that scene, also with a background of bright green, the tree bends at its trunk toward the boy as it drops the apple from its branch.

A handful of U.S. stamps issued during the past three decades recognize children’s authors and their works.

For example, Theodore Seuss Geisel, better known to the world as Dr. Seuss, is honored on a 2004 37¢ commemorative stamp (Scott 3835) marking the centennial of his birth. The design shows Geisel and several memorable characters from his books, including the Cat in the Hat and the Grinch.

Works of art by Ojibwe landscape painter and sculptor George Morrison (1919-2000), a pivotal figure of Native American modernism, are the subject of five commemorative forever stamps issued April 22.

The stamps illustrate five of Morrison’s abstract landscapes: Sun and River (1949); Phenomena Against the Crimson:
Lake Superior Landscape
(1985); Lake Superior Landscape (1981); Spirit Path, New Day, Red Rock Variation: Lake Superior Landscape (1990); and Untitled (1995).

Widely known as the “Shark Lady,” esteemed ichthyologist and marine biologist Eugenie Clark is celebrated on a commemorative stamp issued May 4 on her birth centennial.

The Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota, Fla., hosted the first-day ceremony for the stamp honoring Clark, who founded the laboratory (then called the Cape Haze Marine Laboratory) in 1955.

Artist Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya designed the stamp, which features a photograph of a young, smiling Clark sporting a diver’s mask and snorkel on her forehead. The photo was taken by veteran underwater photographer David Doubilet, who is primarily known for his work in National Geographic magazine.

Reinhard Dirscherl’s photo of a lemon shark appears in the background, just above Clark’s right shoulder.

The sport of women’s rowing received recognition on four stamps issued May 13 at the Philadelphia Girls’ Rowing Club in Philadelphia.

The four stamps are arranged in two se-tenant (side-by-side) pairs that each picture four women rowers.

On one pair, the rowers are about to begin a stroke. On the other, the rowers have just completed a stroke and lifted their oars out of the water.

The images of the two rowers on each stamp in a pair are identical, but the overall designs are slightly different because of the positions of the oars on each stamp.

Sometimes called America’s backbone, the Mississippi River is highlighted on 10 commemorative forever stamps issued May 23 in Memphis, Tenn.

The Mighty Mississippi stamps, which were issued in panes of 10, feature photographs that each represent a different state along the river’s 2,340-mile length that stretches from remote Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico.

The states represented in each row of two stamps in the vertical block of 10 are (from top to bottom) Minnesota and Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois, Missouri and Kentucky, Arkansas and Tennessee, and Louisiana and Mississippi.

More than 120 years after the United States issued a postage stamp picturing Martha Washington, the first presidential first lady, the U.S. Postal Service paid tribute to Nancy Reagan (1921-2016), the wife of Ronald Reagan, the 40th president of the United States, with a stamp issued July 6 in Simi Valley, Calif.

The vertical image of Nancy Reagan shown on the stamp is based on Aaron Shikler’s official White House portrait painted in 1987. James Galanos designed the flowing red gown she is wearing in the painting. The stamp shows a tightly cropped head-and-shoulders image taken from the painting, which is a full-length portrait.

On July 10, the first-class letter rate increased 2¢, from 58¢ to 60¢. Five days later, on July 15, the Postal Service issued a quintet of stamps honoring mariachi, a style of folk music steeped in the history of Mexico that has firm roots in the United States. The Mariachi stamps were the first issue at the new rate.

Each stamp shows a musician dressed in traje de charro, the traditional outfit of mariachi performers, playing one of five mariachi instruments: guitar, guitarron, vihuela, violin, and trumpet, according to the USPS.

The guitarron is a large, fretless six-string bass guitar, and the vihuela is a five-string guitar similar to an instrument from the Spanish Renaissance.

Pete Seeger, whose social activism infused his career as a folk singer and songwriter, is featured on a nondenominated (60¢) commemorative forever stamp issued July 21 in Newport, R.I. Seeger is the 10th musician to appear on a stamp in the popular Music Icons series.

On the stamp, Seeger is seen playing his signature five-string banjo in a color-tinted, black-and-white photograph taken in the early 1960s by Seeger’s son, Dan Seeger.

Buzz Lightyear, the action figure and space ranger from the Toy Story movie franchise, stands ready on four commemorative forever stamps issued Aug. 3 in Los Angeles.

The Postal Service announced the Go Beyond: Buzz Lightyear stamps in a surprise unveiling at the June 8 red-carpet premiere of Disney and Pixar’s Lightyear movie.

The designs show Buzz as a close-up looking to the right, a full image looking to the right, Buzz running without a helmet, and a slightly cropped image of him facing forward.

The National Marine Sanctuary System of the United States celebrated its 50th anniversary this year.

In recognition of this milestone, the Postal Service issued a pane of 16 stamps on Aug. 5 featuring dynamic photographs taken at the 15 national marine sanctuaries and two marine national monuments overseen by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Postal Service art director Greg Breeding of Charlottesville, Va., designed the stamps using existing photographs. The stamps are in four formats: horizontal and vertical rectangles (both the same size), and large and small squares.

A map on the back of the pane gives one a sense of the vastness of the National Marine Sanctuary System. Most of the sanctuaries are found along the East and West coasts of the United States.

Five commemorative stamps featuring paintings of classic pony cars by Tom Fritz were issued Aug. 25 in conjunction with the Great American Stamp Show in Sacramento, Calif.

The stamps show the following pony cars: 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 302, 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T, 1969 Chevrolet Camero Z/28, 1967 Mercury Cougar XR-7 GT and 1969 AMC Javelin SST.

On the stamps, various shades of gray can be seen in the backgrounds and the shadows cast by the cars.

Fritz’s paintings impart a realistic effect of motion for each of the five cars.

For example, the Dodge Challenger is trailing smoke from its rear tires, burning rubber, as the car accelerates at a high rate of speed.

You don’t have to look back too far to find Fritz’s dynamic automotive artistry on U.S. stamps. In 2013, the Postal Service issued five stamps (Scott 4743-4747) picturing his paintings of five muscle cars: the 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona, 1966 Pontiac GTO, 1967 Ford Mustang Shelby GT 500, 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS and 1970 Plymouth Hemi Barracuda.

On Sept. 8, a little less than two months after the first picture from the James Webb Space Telescope was released to the public, the USPS issued a stamp celebrating the astronomical instrument and its remarkable imaging capabilities.

Existing art by James Vaughan and a NASA/Space Telescope Science Institute image were used by USPS art director Derry Noyes to design the stamp.

Noyes’ carefully rendered image of the telescope is set against a stylized depiction of stars, galaxies and planets in space.

The Ariane 5 rocket carrying the telescope was launched Dec. 25, 2021, from Kourou, French Guiana. The telescope is currently in orbit around the sun, roughly 1 million miles from Earth.

On Oct. 2, 1950, Charles M. Schulz’s beloved Peanuts comic strip debuted in seven newspapers in the United States. Almost 72 years to the day later, on Sept. 30, the Postal Service released a set of 10 stamps in the cartoonist’s honor.

The Charles M. Schulz stamps feature Charlie Brown and memorable Peanuts characters. The stamps were printed in panes of 20 containing two examples of each stamp.

“A 1987 photograph of the cartoonist, taken by Douglas Kirkland, appears in the center of the pane,” the USPS said. Below the photo is a larger version of Schulz’s signature followed by “Charles M. Schulz Centennial 2022” in three lines.

The stamps were designed by USPS art director Breeding using Schulz’s artwork.

Peanuts characters have appeared on previous U.S. stamps.

For instance, a 2001 34¢ commemorative stamp honoring Peanuts pictures Snoopy as the daring and intrepid World War I Flying Ace atop his doghouse that he imagined as a Sopwith Camel biplane.

On Oct. 18, the Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp honoring the service of women cryptologists during World War II.

“During World War II, some 11,000 women helped to process and decipher an endless stream of enemy military messages,” the USPS said. “Both frustrating and exhilarating, their work was one of the conflict’s best-kept secrets.”

The stamp art by USPS art director Antonio Alcala shows an image from a recruitment poster for Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) and letters from the Purple code used by the Japanese government to encrypt diplomatic messages.

Alcala also designed the last WWII-themed stamp issued by the USPS: the 2021 Go for Broke stamp.

Similar to the Women Cryptologists of World War II stamp, the Go for Broke stamp honors people whose contributions to the United States’ effort during WWII may be unknown or overlooked.


The 2022 program began Jan. 9 with the latest stamp in the Postal Service’s Fruits stamp series. The 4¢ stamp picturing a succulent cluster of four plump blueberries was issued in Blue Hill, Maine. The stamp comes in three formats: a pane of 20 and coil rolls of 3,000 and 10,000.

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.

The 4¢ Blueberries stamp joined 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).

Jan. 9 also saw the issuance of the U.S. Flags forever stamp that was produced in a pane of 20, two different double-sided panes of 20 (a format that the Postal Service describes as a booklet), two different coil rolls of 100 stamps, and in coil rolls of 3,000 and 10,000. These different formats resulted in six major-number listings in the Scott catalog.

“The stamp art is a painting of three flags in a circular formation, reminiscent of the 50 flags encircling the Washington Monument,” the USPS said in the Dec. 2, 2021, Postal Bulletin.

In a not-too-subtle nod to one of the star-crossed lovers in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, one of literature’s best-known tragic love stories, Romeo, Mich., hosted the Jan. 14 first-day ceremony for the two Love forever stamps.

Both stamps showcase Bailey Sullivan’s “graphic illustrations of flowers inspired by old European folk art,” according to the Postal Service.

Two nonprofit-rate coil stamps were issued Feb. 1 in Pine Mountain, Ga. One of the nondenominated (5¢) Butterfly Garden Flowers coil stamps features an illustration of scabiosa, and the other pictures cosmos. When in bloom, both flowers prove irresistible to butterflies.

The “NONPROFIT ORG/USA” inscription in the top left corner of each stamp indicates that a permit is required to use them on mail. The stamps are intended for use on bulk mailings by authorized nonprofit organizations.

Two new high-denomination stamps for expedited mail service were issued on Feb. 14. The stamps are in response to new postage rates that went into effect Jan. 9.

The $8.95 Priority Mail stamp features Monument Valley in Utah, and the $26.95 Priority Mail Express stamp showcases the Palace of Fine Arts in the Marina District of San Francisco. They are the 26th and 27th additions to the Postal Service’s American Landmarks series of Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express stamps which began in 2008 and features Dan Cosgrove’s poster-style illustrations.

The $8.95 Priority Mail stamp is the first in the series to picture a Utah landmark, while the $26.95 stamp for Priority Mail Express service is the fifth to highlight a landmark in California.

The 2022 $26.95 Palace of Fine Arts stamp has the largest face value of any U.S. postage stamp in history, eclipsing the 2020 $26.35 stamp picturing the Grand Island Ice Caves in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Colorful mountain flowers are pictured on four definitive stamps issued March 14 in Alpine, Wyo. The stamps were issued in a double-sided pane of 20 and coil rolls of 3,000 and 10,000.

Eight Scott catalog numbers were assigned to the Mountain Flora stamps: four for the stamps in double-sided panes of 20 and four for the coil stamps in rolls of 3,000 and 10,000.

The ninth stamp in the Postal Service’s series of round global forever stamps was issued March 14 in Kansas City, Mo. The nondenominated ($1.30) stamp showing an African daisy was printed in panes of 10.

Like the eight previous global forever stamps issued since the first one appeared in 2013, the African Daisy stamp is a round self-adhesive with die-cut simulated perforations.

On March 24, in two cities separated by almost 2,000 miles, the USPS issued two stamps featuring colorful arrangements of flowers.

The nondenominated (58¢) Tulips stamp debuted in Mount Vernon, Wash., and Lawrence, Kan., served as the first-day city for the nondenominated (78¢) Sunflower Bouquet stamps.

Veteran U.S. stamp designer Ethel Kessler based her designs of both stamps on existing digital photographs by Harold Davis of Berkeley, Calif. The stamps are intended primarily as wedding invitation postage but are valid for any postal use.

Two subjects that have appeared on recent U.S. stamps, the U.S. flag and barns, were united on four nondenominated (10¢) presorted standard-rate coil stamps issued April 14.

Stephanie Bower of Seattle, Wash., who specializes in architectural illustration, illustrated and designed the Flags on Barns stamps using pencil and watercolors on watercolor paper, according to the USPS.

Katharine Graham, the formidable owner and president of the Washington Post Co. who served for almost 30 years as publisher of the organization’s flagship newspaper, the Washington Post, is celebrated on a new 2-ounce rate forever stamp in the Distinguished Americans definitive series. The stamp was issued June 14 in Washington, D.C., where the Post is headquartered.

The Katharine Graham stamp is identified by the Postal Service as the 17th issue in the Distinguished Americans series that began in 2000 with the 10¢ Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell stamp (Scott 3420).

A pair of high-denomination definitive stamps depicting geometric floral patterns were issued June 20 in Kansas City, Mo., without an official first-day ceremony.

On the $2 Floral Geometry stamp, six circles overlap to form a symmetrical pattern that resembles a flower with six petals. Arrangements of dots combine with the circles to form additional geometric shapes.

More complexity appears in the design of the $5 stamp, which features the same pattern of circles, additional lines and different dot patterns. A triangle can be seen in combination with the flowerlike pattern.

On Aug. 12, World Elephant Day, the Postal Service released a stamp celebrating one of the world’s most recognizable land animals.

The nondenominated (60¢) Elephants forever stamp shows Rafael Lopez’s charming illustration of an African elephant and its young calf.

The Fairbanks, Alaska, suburb of North Pole hosted the Sept. 15 first-day ceremony for the quartet of colorful Holiday Elves forever special stamps.

The overall design of the se-tenant block of four pictures a colorful illustration of four cheerful elves stationed along a conveyor belt “preparing toys on a winding conveyor belt in a snow-laden forest,” the USPS said.

On Sept. 22, the Christmas: Virgin and Child forever special stamp was issued at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The stamp features a photograph of Virgin and Child, a 16th-century oil-on-panel painting of Mary and the infant Jesus by a Florentine artist known as the Master of the Scandicci Lamentation.

Virgin and Child is part of the Robert Dawson Evans collection at the Museum of Fine Arts.

Flowers in snow are the subject of 10 forever definitive stamps issued Oct. 11 at Guilford Covered Bridge Park in Guilford, Ind.

The 10 stamps feature oil paintings by artist Gregory Manchess. Each design shows a colorful blooming plant set against a snowy background.

Manchess previously illustrated a handful of U.S. stamps. Two examples are the Mark Twain forever commemorative stamp issued in 2011 (Scott 4545) and the 2019 Maureen “Little Mo” Connolly Brinker stamp (5377).

The USPS issued its 15th Kwanzaa stamp on Oct. 13 at the Ferrara Theater in St. Louis.

Artist Erin Robinson’s design illustrates a girl and a boy wearing robes similar to spiritual garments. The light blue circle behind their heads signifies wholeness and unifies the figures, according to the Postal Service.

The 2022 U.S. stamp program concluded with the Oct. 20 issuance of a forever special stamp celebrating Hanukkah, the Jewish holiday also known as the Festival of Lights. This year, Hanukkah begins at sundown on Dec. 18.

Artist Jeanette Kuvin Oren designed the stamp, which depicts a hanukkiah, the nine-branch candelabra used during Hanukkah.


The 2022 program does not include any postal stationery items.

In 2021, the Postal Service issued its last Priority Mail stamped envelope (Scott U701), a $7.95 denomination featuring Cosgrove’s vibrantly colored illustration of the historic fort of Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, Fla. The 2021 $7.95 Priority Mail stamp (5554) also shows Cosgrove’s depiction of Castillo de San Marcos.

Images of all the 2022 stamps are presented on pages 48 and 49 of this issue. The ballot for casting your vote in the 2022 stamp poll is found on page 44. Readers wishing to vote online may do so at Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by Feb. 28, 2023.

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