The U.S. Postal Service saluted the American flag Thursday, unveiling five "Old Glory" postage stamps in conjunction with New York's largest stamp show.
Old Glory is a nickname for the American flag, and all of the new stamps depict the stars and stripes in one form or another. Stamp images include a 19th-century wood carving of a sword-wielding woman waving a flag, an 1888 presidential campaign badge featuring Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd President of the United States, and a folding fan emblazoned with the flag.
Although American troops are currently fighting in Iraq, the Postal Service's Director of Stamp Services, David Failor, said the timing of the Old Glory unveiling has more to do with New York's annual Mega Stamp Show than the war. This is a booklet that's been planned for almost three years, now. We knew we were going to do it here at the Mega Stamp show here in New York in April. I guess it's just a stroke of luck as far as timing goes," he said.
Mr. Failor said the Mega Stamp Show is one of the premier stamp shows in the country, attracting stamp collectors from home and abroad. He said he expects the Old Glory stamps will appeal to both stamp collectors and general public.
The U.S. commemorative stamp program generates between $200 and $300 million in revenue for the Postal Service every year.
The Old Glory stamps have been issued in a format the U.S. postal Service has used only once before - a prestige booklet. Richard Scheaff, who designed the Old Glory stamps, says the origins of the prestige booklet lie outside the United States. "The prestige booklet is something that the British came up with a few years ago, of having a little mini-booklet of information that also contains some stamps and, in their case, also labels that look like stamps but aren't. We've always thought it was interesting, so we did one three or four years back which happened to be about submarines," he said.
Mr. Scheaff has designed more than 300 stamps for the U.S. Postal Service over the years. The Service introduces 25 to 30 stamp subjects, and prints between 35 and 40 billion stamps each year.