Four Things You Didn’t Know About Mule Deer

The new Deer stamped card bounded into mailboxes in March, but did you know that besides being a fun way to send greetings, this card may also be able to tell you which part of the United States you live in?

Here’s the test: When you look at the deer created by artist Cathie Bleck, do you see a white-tailed deer or a mule deer? If you answered “mule deer,” it’s a good bet that you live out West!

The Deer (Forever®) Stamped Card is being issued as a Forever® stamped card. Its postage will always be equal to the value of the First-Class Mail postcard rate in effect at the time of use, even if the rate increases after purchase.

The Deer (Forever®) Stamped Card is being issued as a Forever® stamped card. Its postage will always be equal to the value of the First-Class Mail postcard rate in effect at the time of use, even if the rate increases after purchase. Click the image for details.

OK, we admit that our test hasn’t been vetted by actual scientists. But because the graceful deer on the card is more fanciful than realistic, we think it can represent any number of deer species—and perhaps it reminds you of the type of deer you might spot in your home state.

Whether you have yet to see your first “mulie” or have one passing through your backyard at this very moment, here’s an introduction to the second most common deer species in the country.

  • West of the Mississippi, mule deer are more common than white-tailed deer. They can live in deserts, mountain forests, or on the plains.
  • Mule deer are named for their long, mule-like ears.
  • Mule deer have a unique way of running away from predators. They leap high into the air, jumping and landing on all four feet at once. This series of bounds lets them quickly make their way up steep mountain slopes.
  • Mule deer live an average of ten years in the wild—despite living alongside pack-hunting predators such as wolves and coyotes.

The Deer stamped card is currently available online at (search for “deer”).

Charles Demuth’s Poster Portraits

One of the most unique paintings featured on the Modern Art in America stamp sheet is I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold, by Charles Demuth. The work is actually a “poster portrait” of Demuth’s friend William Carlos Williams, who is honored on the 2012 Twentieth-Century Poets stamp sheet.

Williams had written a poem, “The Great Figure,” about a fire truck speeding noisily through the streets in the rain with siren blaring, wheels rumbling, and gong clanging. Some lines from that poem (“I saw the figure 5 / in gold / on a red / firetruck”) gave Demuth the title for his painting. Produced in 1928, in oil, graphite, ink, and gold leaf on paperboard, the painting transmits the speed and—some feel—even the noise of the poem by Williams.

Demuth Williams pairWhether or not it makes viewers hear the siren, the painting is a witty homage to Demuth’s friend. The words “Bill” and “Carlos” appear—the latter on a theater marquee in the background—and the poet’s initials are painted at the bottom. In a sly, self-referential joke, the fire engine in Demuth’s painting is speeding past a store window bearing the legend “ART Co.” The work prefigures Pop art and speaks to the way the arts (in this case, painting and poetry) can influence each other.

Between 1923 and 1929, Demuth painted a series of “poster portraits” for which he used symbols, objects, and typography to portray his friends, rather than their physical likeness. In addition to Williams, by then a publishing poet as well as a doctor, Demuth made portraits of Georgia O’Keeffe, John Marin, Arthur Dove, and others.

The were issued March 7, 2013, and are currently available online and in Post Offices around the country. The Twentieth-Century Poets Forever® stamps were issued April 21, 2012, and can be purchased online.

Happy Arbor Day!

This spring, why not plant a tree in your yard or neighborhood? Planting a tree next to your home not only cuts cooling costs by providing shade during the summer but also reduces heating costs during the winter by supplying a windbreak. Trees also help clean the air and provide cost-effective ways of cooling our streets and parks in the high heat of summer.

PlantTrees-Forever-single-BGv1This Forever® stamp is one of 16 stamps issued in 2011 that illustrate the simple things we can do to help the environment. You can find the entire set at—just search for “Go Green.”

George W. Bush Presidential Library Dedicated Today

The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum will be officially dedicated today in Dallas, Texas. We are marking the occasion with a look back at the Presidential Libraries stamp, which was issued in 2005 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Presidential Libraries Act of 1955.

usps05sta025The Act, which enabled Presidents to donate their materials to the federal government for preservation and public access, was inspired by the example of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Articulating the need for a safe, accessible archive for the materials of each administration, President Roosevelt stated that a repository was needed to “bring together the records of the past and to house them in buildings where they will be preserved for the use of men and women in the future.”

Since then, Presidential Libraries have been established in the home state of each President. Funds to build the libraries come from private sources, while the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), under the auspices of the federal government, provides for their maintenance and operation.

The Presidential Records Act of 1978 went further and defined all papers generated during a President’s completed term in office as the property of the United States Government and placed the records under the custody of the Archivist of the United States. The 1978 act also established that the Presidential Library system should continue as the repository for subsequent Presidential records.

USPS05STA025AThe George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum opens to the public on May 1, 2013. As citizens in a democracy, Americans have the right and are encouraged to visit the Presidential Libraries. At every library, casual visitors and serious scholars alike, will find, in addition to an accessible archive of Presidential papers, an associated museum that offers an ongoing series of public programs on a variety of cultural and historical topics. Many of the programs cater to school-age children.

At the time the Presidential Libraries stamp was issued, there were 11 libraries in the system housing materials from the administrations of Presidents Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Baines Johnson, Gerald R. Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and William J. Clinton. (The Richard M. Nixon Presidential Library was added soon after the stamp’s release.)

The Presidential Libraries stamp was issued at one of these libraries. Which one was it?

Send your answer—along with your name and mailing address—to uspsstamps [at] gmail [dot] com. If you answer correctly you will automatically be entered to win a collectible Presidential Libraries ceremony program. We have 14 programs to give away, so there are plenty of chances to win. A 15th winner will receive not only the official 2005 ceremony program but also one Presidential Libraries American Commemorative Panel. This limited-edition, full-color collectible includes informative text about the stamps, photographs, and four mounted, mint-condition Presidential Libraries stamps.

DSC03420All winners will be selected at random. The deadline for entries is 11:59 p.m. EDT Friday, April 26. Good luck!

Congratulations to the winners of the Presidential Libraries giveaway. We tried to fool you with a trick question, but you all are too smart for us. The stamps were issued at all of the libraries, so every answer was a correct answer! All 15 winners have already been notified by email. If you didn’t win this time, stick around because there’s bound to be another contest just around the corner.

Four Sources of Vintage Seed Packets Inspiration

Each envelope in this set of ten First Day Covers bears an affixed Vintage Seed Packets stamp and a First Day of Issue color postmark. Click the image for details.

Aren’t the beautiful? According to Dr. Irwin Richman, author of Seed Art: the Package Made Me Buy It, the first seed catalog using color plates was issued in 1853. Since then, the illustrations in catalogs and on seed packages—from the original hand-painted pictures to modern photographs—have encouraged gardeners to believe that they, too, can grow the same luscious, perfect blossoms.

If you can’t get enough of these pictures of botanical perfection, we’ve found some online resources to inspire you even more:

  • The Smithsonian Institution has an extensive collection of vintage seed catalogs. Its online exhibit holds 500 illustrations from more than 250 catalogs. You can browse by company or by the kind of flower, fruit, or vegetable you want to see. The exhibit also includes examples of vintage seed-catalog cover art featuring everything from farms to fairs, seed stores to ships.
  • The National Agricultural Library in Beltsville, Maryland, holds a collection of more than 200,000 American and international seed catalogs. The catalogs date from the late 1700s, and its online exhibit includes a few examples from that time. However, the beautifully illustrated catalogs begin with examples from 1876.
  • Fascinated by the history of seed catalogs? The Oregon State University Libraries’ Special Collections Division has a wonderful illustrated exhibit that explores the history of the catalogs in the U.S. and Europe.
  • The Labelman, an online store that specializes in antique seed packets—as well as labels from crates and cans—offers a wealth of information on its website, including a brief history and tips on decorating with the vintage art.

Have fun exploring! And don’t forget that spring seed catalogs should be arriving in your mailbox soon, offering the same garden dreams as their vintage ancestors.