First Class Art

Back in January stamps went from 44¢ to 45¢.   Price increases aren’t as big a deal as they used to be thanks to forever stamps, online bill pay, and email.  Who sends actual letters anymore?  But for those of us who buy stamps for the art, it is secretly fun because when the price goes up we get to augment our art sharing (a.k.a. envelope stamping) with a one or two cent stamp!

And how easy/fun is it be to go to USPS online, grab some Bobcats and while you’re there, browse through dozens of amazing and interesting choices to replenish your dwindling first class letter stamp supply.  Can’t decide?  Grab a bunch.  What a great excuse to write some letters!

You want to know who still writes letters?  My kids!  They often write letters to their cousin.  Doesn’t matter that he lives down the road and they see him practically everyday.  Stamps are not only a pretty economical way to correspond and mini works of art, they also celebrate the richness of America life past and present.  So how about it?!  Why not indulge in some stamps and letter writing!  Here are some that caught my eye…

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Birds of Prey

These are 85¢ stamps for first class mail between 2 and 3 ounces.  Unfortunately no Red-tailed Hawk in the group but there is an Osprey!

Description from USPS…  The northern goshawk (Accipiter gentilis), peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), osprey (Pandion haliaetus), and northern harrier (Circus cyaneus) are featured on these unique Birds of Prey stamps. The U.S. Postal Service®: salutes these kings of the sky with colorful portraits set against a plain, white background.

Birds of prey, also known as raptors, thrive in diverse habitats and live on every continent except Antarctica. The roughly 500 species of raptors include birds that hunt by day, such as falcons, eagles, and harriers, and birds that hunt by night — the owls. They share several common characteristics; birds of prey are carnivorous and use their powerful talons to capture prey. Their exceptionally keen eyesight allows them to see small objects in detail, even from a great distance. As predators high on the food chain, raptors play an important role in maintaining the balance of nature.

Illustrator Robert Giusti worked with art director Howard E. Paine on this issuance. Giusti painted the original designs in acrylic on canvas board. The Birds of Prey stamps are being issued in self-adhesive sheets of 20 at an 85-cent denomination, which is the price for single-piece retail First-Class Mail weighing more than two ounces and up to and including three ounces.

  • Made in the USA.
  • Issue Date: January 20, 2012
  • Issue City: Washington, DC 20066 (No Ceremony)
  • SKUs featured on this page: 115240, 115230, 115220

Weather Vanes 

These are 45¢ regular first class stamps for letters.  Also stay tuned…  I am planning a weather/weather vane related project post coming soon!

Description from USPS…  Prior to the invention of the barometer in the 17th century, weather vanes were indispensable instruments for observing and predicting the weather. These 45¢ denominated stamps feature photographs of five eye-catching weather vanes made in the United States during the 19th century. All five weather vanes — a cow, an eagle, two roosters, and a centaur — belong to the collection of the Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vermont.

Before 1850, American weather vanes were largely the work of individual craftsmen or skilled amateurs. However, during the second half of the 19th century, factories around Boston and New York City began mass-producing them, ushering in what collectors now consider the golden age of American weather vanes. Today, weather vanes from this period are not only valuable collectibles, but also intriguing examples of American folk art.

Art director Derry Noyes designed the Weather Vanes stamps, which feature photographs taken by Sally Andersen-Bruce.  These stamps will be issued in a First-Class Mail large roll format.

  • Made in the USA.
  • Issue Date: January 20, 2012
  • Issue City: Shelburne, VT 05482
  • SKUs featured on this page: 788930, 789040, 788940


These are forever stamps.  They are so magical.  Don’t you think?  Maybe we should get one for Pinny!

Description from USPS…  With these five Bonsai (Forever®) stamps, the U.S. Postal Service celebrates the beauty of bonsai. The word bonsai (Japanese for plant in a pot) refers to the art of cultivating plants — usually trees — in trays, pots, or other containers. Favorite bonsai plants include evergreens, maples, and azaleas, but many other trees and shrubs are also suitable.

One of the common styles of bonsai is shown on each of these five stamps. The first stamp depicts a Sierra juniper in semi-cascade style, in which the tip projects over the pot rim but does not extend below the base. Second is a trident maple in informal upright style, in which the trunk bends slightly to the left or right. Third is a black pine in formal upright style, with the trunk straight and tapering evenly, with symmetrical branches, from base to apex. Fourth is an azalea plant in multiple-trunk style, with several trunks emerging from one root system. The fifth and final stamp shows a banyan in cascade style, in which the trunk evokes a stream flowing down a mountainside, with the tip extending below the pot’s base. The plants depicted are roughly 15 to 20 inches tall.

Although no one knows when the first bonsai was created, it is generally accepted that Buddhist monks brought the practice from China to Japan about a thousand years ago. The bonsai collection at the National Arboretum began in 1976 when the Nippon Bonsai Association in Tokyo, Japan, presented the people of the United States with 53 plants as part of the U.S. bicentennial commemoration.

A bonsai master begins with seeds, cuttings, a naturally stunted tree, or a very young tree. Over time, he or she prunes the roots and branches, uses wire to shape and train the branches, and sometimes scrapes or peels bark to achieve desired effects. The plant is watered and repotted when necessary, and can live a hundred years or more.

Art director and stamp designer Ethel Kessler worked with artist John D. Dawson on the Bonsai stamps. They are being issued as Forever stamps, which are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail one-ounce rate.

  • Made in the USA.
  • Issue Date: January 23, 2012
  • Issue City: Sacramento, CA 95813
  • SKUs featured on this page: 688015, 688040

Romare Bearden

These are also forever stamps.  Watch this short video which contains a teeny snipet of him at work and his collage technique.

Description from USPS…  These stamps feature four collages by Romare Bearden, an influential 20th century African-American artist who brought mainstream appeal to the collage technique.

Romare Bearden (1911-1988) was one of the 20th century’s most distinguished American artists. His art has been praised for depicting the complexities of African-American experience while addressing universal themes, and is in the permanent collections of major museums across the nation. Though he created works in many media, he is particularly celebrated for his groundbreaking approach to collage. Using various materials, including cut papers, foil, and fabrics, he transformed collage into a forceful means of expression with mainstream appeal. Four collages by Bearden, described in order from left to right below, appear on the Romare Bearden (Forever®) stamp sheet.

  • Conjunction (1971) is a large work showing a Southern social scene, reflecting Bearden’s recollections of his early childhood. The work celebrates the human activity of connecting through touch and conversation, and pays homage to the Southern quilt-making tradition suggested by the fabrics of the women’s brightly patterned dresses.
  • Odysseus: Poseidon, The Sea God—Enemy of Odysseus (1977) is one of many images by Bearden based on literary sources. Poseidon was the archenemy of Odysseus in Homer’s epic poem, The Odyssey; his image here reveals Bearden’s deep exploration of the human condition.
  • Prevalence of Ritual: Conjur Woman is one of a series of important collages Bearden made in 1964. The power and dignity of the black woman was a central theme in his work, and the spiritual and mysterious conjur woman was a recurring subject.
  • Falling Star (1979) juxtaposes the ordinary, a domestic interior, with the marvelous, as seen through its windows. Bearden uses layers of meaning in this work, addressing universal human experience.

Bearden was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, but grew up in New York City. His parents had hoped he would study medicine, but he ultimately earned a degree in education in 1935. For many years, he worked as a caseworker with the New York City Department of Social Services and painted in the evenings, making an ever-expanding study of world art. He wrote lyrics for songs, including the hit Seabreeze, and designed album covers, costumes, and stage sets. He was also a respected scholar and writer. In 1969, Bearden’s income as an artist finally allowed him to leave his day job. He was recognized with many honors including the National Medal of Arts, awarded in 1987, and election to the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1972.

Art director Derry Noyes chose a different work by Bearden for each of the four stamp designs. The selvage features a photograph of Bearden taken by Frank Stewart in the early 1980s. The photo has been cropped to fit in the space available in the selvage.

The Romare Bearden stamps are being issued in sheets of 16 self-adhesive Forever stamps, with four different designs. Forever stamps are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail one-ounce rate.

  • Made in the USA.
  • Issue Date: September 28, 2011
  • Issue City: New York, NY 10199
  • SKUs featured on this page: 467749, 467739, 467729

Dogs at Work

These are 65¢ stamps for first class mail between 1 and 2 ounces.  Boy can dogs do amazing things!  It is also amazing how much variety there is in the different breeds and to think they are all descended from wolves!

Description from USPS…  Dogs have become more than just best friends — they’ve also become our coworkers. From guide dogs to therapy dogs to search and rescue dogs, these stamps from the U.S. Postal Service® honor the enduring partnership between dogs and people. This set of four Dogs at Work stamps depicts four hard-working canines: a guide dog assisting a woman who is blind, a tracking dog on the trail of a scent, a therapy dog visiting an elderly woman in her home, and a search and rescue dog standing in a field, ready to tackle the next assignment.

For thousands of years, dogs and humans have shared a special bond. While the earliest dogs helped human hunters bring home prey, today’s pooches excel at a variety of jobs. Currently, some 10,000 guide dogs in the U.S. and Canada serve as an extra set of eyes for people who are blind. Therapy dogs, chosen for their friendly dispositions, bring comfort and joy to the elderly and the ill. Dogs that work with police and military personnel are trained to detect drugs, guns, and explosives. Search and rescue dogs speed up search efforts, increasing the odds of survival for disaster victims.

Artist John M. Thompson created original paintings for the stamps, which were designed by art director Howard E. Paine. The Dogs At Work stamps are being issued at a 65-cent denomination, which is the price for single-piece retail First-Class Mail weighing more than one ounce and up to and including two ounces.

  • Made in the USA.
  • Issue Date: January 20, 2012
  • Issue City: Merrifield, VA 22081 (Field Event)
  • SKUs featured on this page: 115340, 115330, 115320

Aloha Shirts

These are for postcards.  I love the interesting tidbit about “Casual Friday” originating in Hawaii!  Don’t you love sending/receiving postcards!  I posted about making your own here.

Description from USPS…  Nothing says “Hawai’i” or conjures casual good times like the colorful Hawaiian Aloha shirt, which takes its name from the Hawaiian word often used as a blessing or greeting. The U.S. Postal Service® celebrates the spirit of “Aloha” with five Aloha Shirts stamps, each depicting a different shirt.

Aloha shirts are made from boldly patterned fabric showing decorative images of Hawaiian life. Two of the five classic shirts depicted in the stamp art showcase surfers and their boards; one shows fossil fish, shells, and sea stars; another shows a tropical flower known as the bird of paradise; and one shows Kilauea, a volcano on the Big Island of Hawai’i.

Some commentators have traced the “casual Friday” custom observed in America’s mainland offices to Hawai’i, where Aloha shirts were first worn to work on Friday. The shirts, which have a straight lower hem and are worn hanging loosely over the trousers rather than tucked in, are now widely considered acceptable business attire in the 50th state, where the climate can make a suit and tie uncomfortable.

Art director Carl Herrman designed these stamps using photos by Ric Noyle.

These stamps will be issued at the postcard rate.

  • Made in the USA.
  • Issue Date: January 19, 2012
  • Issue City: Honolulu, HI 96820
  • SKUs featured on this page: 115140, 115130, 115120, 788840


I'm a practical mom inspired by nature & I enjoy sharing ideas that encourage kids' innate curiosity & creativity. Interested in subscribing? Check out the blue box at the top of my sidebar. I'm also a wannabe author/illustrator & product designer by day. Let's connect! If you purchase through my Amazon links I get a small commission at no additional cost to you (thanks for supporting Doodles and Jots)! And remember to always credit your source here & elsewhere on the internet.


  1. I love that your kids write stamped letters to their nearby cousin! There is something special about a handwritten letter, even in this digital age.

    One of the fun things about moving to Australia is all the Aussie stamps – kangaroos, boomerangs, koalas….
    Elisa | blissfulE recently posted..7 quick takesMy Profile

  2. As a card maker, I love to mail them to people and people who send my cards do too. I love to pick up fun and pretty stamps. It makes the “chore” of going to the post office fun. I was given a fun gift a few years ago. My brother in law found a large binder filled with someone’s old stamp collection that they didn’t want! He got it for a dollar! So, I love to use the stamps on my envelopes for some fun. Just make the total the right current rate, and also use them to decorate stuff like cards, bookmarks etc. Thanks for this fun article!
    Winnie recently posted..July Design Team Submissions III- The FinaleMy Profile

    • So many times I have bought stamps intending to save them but I guess I love using them more!

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