Update Your Links, Folks. We’re Moving!

Today, we would like to share some exciting news. Stamp of Approval and Beyond the Perf, the Postal Service’s website dedicated to stamps, have joined forces to become USPS Stamps. The new site, which can be found at uspstamps.com, will be an all-encompassing destination for the 21st-century philatelist.

Despite the change in address, the blog’s aim remains the same. It will continue to celebrate stamps. After all, every U.S. postage stamp, from the most traditional to the most ornate, tells a story. The stories are happy, sad, thrilling, mysterious, funny, and everything in between. Each and every one is unique.

At USPS Stamps you will be able to find articles about stamps, old and new. You will be able to see which stamps are available for purchase in the USPS online store. You will be able to check when upcoming stamps will be released. Also, if you so choose, you will be able to receive a monthly email from USPS Stamps that updates you on stamp-related matters.

Finally: Thank you for being such loyal readers! We started the blog in 2011 in order to celebrate the amazing history of stamps. We plan on continuing to tell their stories for many years to come.

Saving Lives, One Stamp at a Time

We all know that stamps can be beautiful, historic, and fun to choose and collect. But did you know that a special kind of stamp known as a semipostal allows you to lend a helping hand every time you mail a letter?

Semipostals are stamps that sell for a few pennies more than the going rate for First-Class postage. Those few extra cents are given to a good cause . . . and just like the pennies you might toss in a jar at the end of a day, they can quickly add up!

As you may know if you’ve spotted it in your mail lately, the Breast Cancer Research semipostal stamp is still for sale and going strong today. Click the image for details.

The first semipostal stamp ever issued by the U.S. Postal Service was the Breast Cancer Research stamp, which was dedicated in a ceremony at the White House on July 29, 1998. The colorful design, illustrated with rainbow hues of green, blue, yellow, and orange, features a simple line drawing of a mythological goddess of the hunt reaching behind her back to draw an arrow from her quiver. The words “Fund the Fight, Find a Cure” highlight the stamp’s purpose. The stamp was designed by art director Ethel Kessler, who is a breast cancer survivor.

The currently sells for 55 cents, which is 9 cents more than the cost of a regular First-Class stamp. During the month of September 2013 alone, the stamp raised more than $99,000. Since it was introduced, it has raised an amazing $77,628,062 for breast cancer research. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Show your support and get your stamps today!

Poinsettia Stamp Now Available

[From guest contributor Carol]

The is available now! This morning, the stamp will be released officially at the ASDA National Postage Stamp Show in New York City.

The stamp art is so realistic that you can almost feel the texture of the leaves. There is a good reason for that—artist William Low used a live plant as his model. Low started with a lush, full poinsettia bought at its peak growth. He placed it in the perfect location in his studio to allow the light to accentuate the plant’s vivid color.

When he began by working from the live model, he took several photographs so that he would have a reference point for when the plant was past its prime. This was especially helpful with the flowers, which are not, as many people believe, the bright red leaves—called bracts—but rather the small, modest cup-shaped structures in the center.

For the Poinsettia stamp, Low used a pressure sensitive screen on which he “painted” his brushstrokes using a stylus, adding dabs of color and weaving layers of texture into the digital painting as he filled in the details. (If you’d like to learn more about Low’s artistic process, check out this fascinating video on his website.)

While painting a perfectly detailed poinsettia might be extremely difficult, you can still make your own poinsettia art. Design poinsettia place cards for your holiday parties or learn how to make felt poinsettias for decorations. If you are adept with a sewing machine, make beautiful embroidered organza poinsettias to embellish packages, candlesticks, wreaths. Kids love crafts, too, so help them make poinsettia ornaments for the tree, create beautiful paper poinsettias, or paint poinsettias using their own hand prints!

Don’t forget that the beautiful Poinsettia stamps will brighten and decorate all your cards and letters this holiday season. Buy the stamps at usps.com/stamps, by calling (), and at Post Offices nationwide.

The Beauty of Snowflakes

[By guest contributor Carol]

This winter, you might find in your mailbox envelopes adorned with the new Snowflakes stamps (which are designed for bulk mailers). The lovely stamps feature photographs of real snowflakes by scientist Kenneth Libbrecht.

Strip of 5How did Libbrecht photograph these snowflakes?

With a little help from a mix of high- and low-tech equipment. Working outdoors, he used a paintbrush to transfer fallen snowflakes from a cardboard collecting surface to a glass slide that was inserted into a high-resolution microscope. He snapped his photographs with a digital camera attached to the microscope.

It sounds complicated, but Libbrecht explains that though expensive, it is possible to set up your own snowflake photography “studio.” If that’s too much for you, you can still become an expert snowflake watcher this winter. All it takes it some optical gear, which Libbrecht describes on his website and, of course, snow. Watch this “Snow Safari” video to learn more about snowflake watching. Libbrecht’s snowflake gallery will help identify the snowflakes you see.

Although the Snowflakes stamps are available only to bulk mailers, USPS has many other beautiful stamps for use at the holidays and throughout the year. Buy stamps at usps.com/stamps, by calling (), and at Post Offices nationwide.

Celebrate the Holidays with New Stamps

It’s only October, but the holidays are right around the corner. The Postal Service has an exciting lineup of holiday stamps that will be available soon. Here’s a brief rundown of some of the things we have in store.

The will be released this Thursday, October 10, at the ASDA National Postage Stamp Show in New York City. The vibrant issuance depicts the rich red and deep green leaves surrounding the flower.

poinsettiaOn Friday, October 11, two more holiday stamps will be released at the ASDA stamp show. One is the , which features Gossaert’s 1531 painting Virgin and Child.
VirginandChildStampThe other is the Holy Family Forever® stamp, which features an illustration showing Joseph leading a donkey that carries Mary and Jesus, guided by a star shining in the twilight of a desert sky.
Holy FamilyThe Global Forever®: Evergreen Wreath stamp will be released on October 24. This international rate stamp offers a single price for any First-Class Mail International® 1-ounce letter to any country in the world.
EvergreenWreath-Forever-Single-BGv1And that’s not all. New issuances slated to be released later this fall include new Hanukkah and Kwanzaa Forever® stamps, in addition to the awesome new Gingerbread Houses Forever® stamps. Check back soon for more details! GingerbreadHousesmaller