Today we continue our tradition of honoring the Stars and Stripes with the issuance of Four Flags. In this quartet of flag stamps, a single word appears on each individual stamp in large letters: Freedom, Liberty, Equality, and Justice.
The black typeface recalls the look of Colonial-era printing, and emphasizes the meaning these four terms held for the colonists who fought the American Revolution. Patriots and Founding Fathers often invoked these words as they struggled to envision a new, democratic nation and make their ideals for the new country a reality.
The current U.S. flag, which is depicted on the stamp, consists of 13 stripes and 50 stars. Congress passed legislation in 1818 stating that the number of stars on the flag should match the number of states in the Union. It also specified that new stars would be added to the flag on the first July 4th after a state’s admission. The current flag’s 50th star was added on July 4, 1960, after Hawai‘i became a state on August 21, 1959.
The flag’s 13 stripes represent the 13 original U.S. states. Red stripes adorn the top and bottom of the flag, resulting in a pattern of seven red stripes and six white ones.
One of the world’s most powerful and widely recognized symbols, the U.S. flag has long been a familiar sight on stamps. Previous issuances include the definitives Flag at Dusk, Flag at Night, Flag at Dawn, and Flag at Midday, all in 2008, and the five commemorative stamps in the Old Glory issuance of 2003. Old Glory depicted a wide variety of U.S. flags, including a flag that appeared on a silk bookmark in 1893 and a 19th-century carving of a woman holding a flag.
The Four Flags stamps are being issued as Forever® stamps. Forever stamps are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail one-ounce rate. The stamps are available as books of 20 or rolls of 100, and beginning today they can be purchased in Post Offices or online.