On Monday, April 25, the United States Postal Service previewed the final of 16 stamps featuring national parks and monuments. Celebrating a century of existence this year, the National Park Service is hosting special events and free days throughout the year as well as presenting their book of stamps at the World Stamp Show. Over the past three weeks, each of 16 stamps has been previewed individually. The stamps all feature artworks – paintings or photographs – created by artists who have visited the parks over the years. The full book of stamps will be previewed this week – check out the USPS website to learn more.
Over the first week of April, the USPS previewed stamps that celebrated five different NPS sites: Carlsbad Caverns, Bandelier National Monument, Assateague Island, Arches National Park, and Acadia National Park. In the second week, previews were shown of the Grand Canyon, the Everglades, Haleakalā National Park, Gulf Island, and Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve.
From April 18-25, the final six stamps were previewed. Celebrating Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens in Washington, DC, the 11th previewed stamp featured a Sacred Lotus, the star bloom of the gardens. The photo was taken by Cindy Dyer, whose images of Kenilworth water lilies have previously made it to postage stamps in last year’s Water Lilies Forever book. Kenilworth is a natural area within Anacostia Park in the capitol and celebrates a Lootus and Lily Festival every year.
The 12th stamp previewed features a painting from iconic Hudson River School artist Albert Bierstadt. The early 20th-century painting depicts the sun breaking through clouds over the forest of the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park. A detail of Bierstadt’s larger painting of Scenery in the Grand Tetons, the stamp image is one that Stephanie Toothman of the National Park Service was especially excited to include: “This stamp exemplifies how our national park treasures extend beyond stunning vistas, wildlife, flora and fauna. Albert Bierstadt’s painting represents the convergence of artistic, literary and political attention toward America’s scenic beauty in the 19th century, which helped establish conservation as a national value and laid the foundation for the first national parks a century ago.” The painting itself can be found in the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller Mansion on the site.
A spectacular star trail photograph comprised from 200 images is what celebrates Washington’s Mount Rainier National Park for the 13th stamp in the collection. Taken by photographer Matt Dieterich, the image shows the night sky over the mountain and lake. “To create this star trails image,” writes Dieterich, “I took 200 photos in a two-hour window between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. with my Nikon D750 and 24mm lens set at F/1.4 and ISO 5000. Since the Earth is rotating, each 8-sec. exposure shows stars at slightly different locations. When the photos are combined into one image the stars create a circular pattern around the North Star, which is just out of view at the top of the image. The pink aurora spread throughout the background sky. Mountaineers can be seen with their white headlamps climbing Mount Rainier on the right side of the volcano.” Check out his time lapse video online at www.mdieterichphoto.com
“To capture star trails photos just like this,” he adds,
“all you need is a digital single lens reflex camera, a wide angle lens, tripod and shutter release cable. So what are you waiting for? Grab your gear and get out under the stars!”
The San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park was featured on the 14th stamp by a photograph of the iconic three-masted sailing ship Balclutha. The photo was taken by Tim Campbell. Located in the Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood of San Francisco, the maritime park is a great place to learn about the history of ships and sailing through the Pacific Ocean.
On Friday, the USPS previewed the 15th stamp, which depicted Theodore Roosevelt National Park, located in North Dakota. The image used is a photograph taken by Q. T. Luong of the Little Missouri River winding through the Badlands. Luong has visited over 50 national parks, capturing images of each one.
The final stamp in the collection features a photograph of two bison framed by a burst of sunlight at dawn. The photo, taken by Art Wolfe, celebrates Yellowstone National Park, one of the most-visited parks in the system. Wolfe comments on how he captured the image, “Rising at dawn and braving the -30°F temperature I was able to catch the first rays of the morning sun. The bitter cold of a long winter’s night had left the animals encased in a mantle of thick frost. I had scouted the area the day before and had seen the herd of bison. They had bedded down there all night and now were standing and trying to shake off the cold as the sun came over the horizon. These are the serendipitous moments I wait for as a photographer. I shot this in the days of film, so I didn’t know until I got back to Seattle and had the film processed if I had been successful or not.”
The first-day-of-issue for these carefully curated forever stamps will be June 2, 2016, when they will be presented at the World Stamp Show, a once-in-a-decade event that will take place this year at the Javits Center in New York. With free admission, the Stamp Show will run from May 28 – June 4, and is a great way for both seasoned stamp collectors and the simply curious to discover the world of philately. Put the dates on your calendar now – you won’t want to miss the show!
Have you visited any of these parks? Do you plan to celebrate the centennial this year? Will you head to the Stamp Show? Let us know your thoughts by commenting in the space below or by tweeting to @egyptologist! Use the hashtags #NPSStamps, #FindYourPark or #NPS100.