USS Constitution Stamp Sets Sail

Despite the rain, more than a thousand of you joined us last Saturday for a wonderful First Day of Issue Ceremony in honor of the new . Thank you to Gov. Barnett; Cmdr. Matthew Bonner, Constitution‘s 72nd commanding officer; Boston Postmaster James Holland; and all the collectors and fans who made the event truly special.

“It is such an honor for Constitution to be immortalized on a Forever stamp,” Bonner said. “And there is no better time than during the bicentennial of the War of 1812 during which Constitution and the Navy played such a pivotal role.”

During the war, USS Constitution became a symbol of the young nation’s independence and an inspiration to future generations. With his 1830 poem, “Old Ironsides,” Oliver Wendell Holmes aroused popular support to repair the venerable ship, which continued to serve in various capacities for much of the 19th century.

Today Constitution, the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world, is docked at the historic Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston, Massachusetts, and is manned by a crew of active-duty U.S. Navy sailors. She was officially designated as “America’s Ship of State” in 2009. In preparation for the bicentennial of the War of 1812, Constitution has been restored to more closely resemble her appearance during that historic conflict.

The stamp’s First Day of Issue ceremony took place at the USS Constitution Museum in the Charlestown Navy Yard. and can be purchased online.

Huzza! New Stamp Comes Sailing In

Today we are very excited to introduce a brand-new stamp commemorating the bicentennial of the War of 1812, the two-and-a-half-year conflict with Great Britain that many Americans viewed as the nation’s “Second War of Independence.”

The stamp features the oldest known painting of the USS Constitution, a frigate that some of you may know better as “Old Ironsides.” She earned the affectionate nickname after a victorious battle 300 miles off the coast of Nova Scotia. “Huzza!” cried one American sailor as he watched Constitution’s hull repel British shot. “Her sides are made of iron!”

Actually, Constitution‘s hull was made of dense white- and live-oak. The ship was one of six frigates designed by Philadelphia shipbuilder Joshua Humphreys in the 1790s. Their thick hulls were built to carry heavy armament and withstand cannon shot, and their sleek lines made them fast enough to outrun more powerful ships.

Digital Color Postmark Keepsake (click image to order)

The United States had declared war on Great Britain on June 18, 1812. Yet, at the time, the U.S. Navy consisted of fewer than 20 warships of substantial size and faced seemingly impossible odds against a Royal Navy fleet that ruled the world’s seas. The success in battle of USS Constitution and other frigates helped sustain American morale at a time when the U.S. Army’s land campaigns were proving disastrous.

The ship’s early victory took place 200 years ago tomorrow: August 19, 1812. The war, however, continued for another two years. In his war message to Congress, President James Madison had charged the British with violating the nation’s sovereignty by restricting American trade with Europe and by removing seamen from American merchant ships and impressing them into the Royal Navy.

Tensions along the Canadian border and America’s western frontier also fueled war sentiment. Frontier settlers, who themselves often encroached on Native American lands, alleged that the British incited Native Americans to conduct raids on their homes and supplied them with arms. Expansionist “War Hawks” in Congress were convinced of the need to seal off the British from Indians in the northwestern frontier by invading Canada, and perhaps even forcing the British out of Canada.

Although the young republic barely escaped defeat, disunion, and bankruptcy, it survived the conflict and in the crucible of war forged a national identity. USS Constitution became a symbol of the young nation’s independence and an inspiration to future generations.

Today Constitution, the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world, is docked at the historic Charlestown Navy Yard in Charlestown, Massachusetts, and is manned by a crew of active-duty U.S. Navy sailors. She was officially designated “America’s Ship of State” in 2009.

First Day of Issue Ceremony Program (click image to order)

The painting of Constitution that appears on the stamp was created by Michele Felice Cornè circa 1803 and is considered to be the most accurate contemporary depiction of the ship. The painting is owned by the U.S. Navy, and you can see it in person at the USS Constitution Museum, where it is currently on long-term loan.

The War of 1812: USS Constitution Forever® stamps are being issued in self-adhesive sheets of 20 stamps each. (Forever stamps are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail one-ounce rate.) They are available and in Post Offices nationwide.

Letters from Canada

Summer is the season for travel and we’re going to take you around the globe in our new blog series, highlighting stamps from countries worldwide. For our first trip, we’re looking at some of Canada Post‘s 2012 stamps. We spotted a few overlapping themes with USPS’s 2012 stamp program, and some notable differences, too.

The War of 1812

The War of 1812 was largely as important to the provinces that would later unite into the Dominion of Canada as it was to the United States. It’s no wonder, then, that both USPS and Canada Post are issuing stamps this year to commemorate the war’s bicentennial. Canada Post’s two-stamp se-tenant issuance focuses on two heroes of the war—British Major-General Sir Isaac Brock and War Chief Tecumseh—with images of a frontier settlement and Native American camp in the background. These stamps pay tribute to the historical impact of the war and Canada’s cultural makeup.

Year of the Dragon

Canada Post rang in the Year of the Dragon in January with an issuance featuring the highly revered, mystical creature, which represents fortune, power, and good luck in Chinese folklore. The depiction of the serpent-like dragon includes gold foil and embossing, making the stamps really jump off the envelope!

Franklin the Turtle

In May, Canada Post began a Children’s Literature series with a set of four stamps honoring beloved children’s book character Franklin the Turtle. Lovable Franklin is one of our favorite characters and we had no idea his more than 100 children’s stories were written, illustrated, and published in Canada. This certainly takes us back to our childhood!

Our philatelic interest is piqued and we can’t wait to see some stamps from other parts of the world. Where would you like us to go next?

2012 APS StampShow Right Around the Corner

This year the American Philatelic Society will hold its annual StampShow on August 16–19 at the Convention Center in Sacramento, California. We will be there, of course, browsing the collections on display, talking with collectors, and issuing new stamps! The final set of Flags of Our Nation stamps will be issued at the show at noon on Thursday, August 16. There will also be special ceremonies for the Edgar Rice Burroughs stamp at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, August 17, and the War of 1812: USS Constitution stamp at noon on Saturday, August 18.

If you’re in the neighborhood, come on down and join us. Collectors can browse for elusive treasures and pick up a limited edition cachet (perhaps signed by stamp artist Chris Calle!). Those new to the hobby will enjoy “Stamp Collecting 101.” And don’t forget the “Stamps by the Bucket” booth, where you can get hundreds of stamps for just pocket change.

Will we see you there?

This Summer Stay Cool with Stamps

Today is the first day of summer, and you know what that means: backyard barbecues, naps in the shade, family vacations, blockbuster movies, iced tea and lemonade . . . and stamps! That’s right, things are really going to start heating up (ha!) in the coming weeks. Here’s just some of what we have planned:

A trip to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York, for the release of the Major League Baseball All-Stars stamps on July 20. The stamps recognize the accomplishments of four baseball greats: Joe DiMaggio, Larry Doby, Willie Stargell, and Ted Williams. (Boston, Cleveland, New York City, and Pittsburgh fans, don’t worry. We have baseball events planned for your towns on July 21!)

The release of the Innovative Choreographers stamps on July 28 in Los Angeles, California. The stamps pay tribute to four of the nation’s most influential choreographers: Isadora Duncan, José Limón, Katherine Dunham, and Bob Fosse.

The completion of the incredible Flags of Our Nation series with the issuance of the last set of ten stamp designs. Texas, Utah, Vermont, U.S. Virgin Islands, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, this means you! (The tenth design is the Stars and Stripes.) The stamps will be released on August 16 at StampShow 2012 in Sacramento. Will you be there?

The issuance of a stamp honoring prolific author Edgar Rice Burroughs, creator of Tarzan of the Apes and John Carter of Mars.  The stamp coincides with the hundredth anniversary of the publication of Burroughs’s first story, “Under the Moons of Mars,” and his first Tarzan story, “Tarzan of the Apes,” in 1912. It will be released August 17 in, where else, Tarzana, California.

The start of a new stamp series commemorating the War of 1812, beginning with the release of the USS Constitution stamp on August 18 at the Charlestown Navy Yard in Massachusetts.

The 150th anniversary of the birth of O. Henry, one of America’s most popular writers of short fiction whose stories include “The Gift of the Magi” and “The Ransom of Red Chief.” Birthday celebrations, and the stamp release, take place September 11 in Greensboro, North Carolina.

And that’s just the big stuff! Stay tuned here all summer long for trivia contests, exclusive stamp subject tidbits, event photos, behind-the-scenes interviews, stamp crafts (!), and lots more. Have a story or photo you want to share? Email us at uspsstamps [at] gmail [dot] com, and we may feature it in an upcoming post.

Major League Baseball trademarks and copyrights are used with permission of Major League Baseball Properties, Inc.

Tarzan™ Owned by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. and Used by Permission.