Stamps of 2023: United States (January 2023)

Jan. 5, 2023

Red Fox

On January 5, 2023, in Fox, AR, the United States Postal Service® will issue the 40-cent Red Fox denominated stamp in one design, in a self-adhesive sheet of 20, coil of 3,000, and coil of 10,000. The handsome face of a red fox (Vulpes vulpes) graces this new 40-cent stamp. Sold in panes of 20 and in self-adhesive coils of 3,000 and 10,000, the stamp is intended for use by bulk mailers for items such as circulars, newsletters and catalogs. It can also be used by customers who enjoy using a variety of stamps on their envelopes and packages. The stamp art features a pencil-and-watercolor illustration from preexisting artwork by wildlife illustrator Dugald Stermer (1936-2011). His penciled calligraphy on the stamp indicates the animal’s common name and its scientific classification. Art director Ethel Kessler designed the stamp.

The red fox is the largest of the true foxes and one of the most widely distributed members of the order Carnivora, being present across the entire Northern Hemisphere including most of North America, Europe and Asia, plus parts of North Africa. It is listed as least concern by the IUCN. Its range has increased alongside human expansion, having been introduced to Australia, where it is considered harmful to native mammals and bird populations. Due to its presence in Australia, it is included on the list of the “world’s 100 worst invasive species”.

Apart from its large size, the red fox is distinguished from other fox species by its ability to adapt quickly to new environments. They are usually found in pairs or small groups consisting of families, such as a mated pair and their young, or a male with several females having kinship ties. The young of the mated pair remain with their parents to assist in caring for new kits. The species primarily feeds on small rodents, though it may also target rabbits, squirrels, game birds, reptiles, invertebrates and young ungulates. Fruit and vegetable matter is also eaten sometimes. Although the red fox tends to kill smaller predators, including other fox species, it is vulnerable to attack from larger predators, such as wolves, coyotes, golden jackals, large predatory birds such as golden eagles and Eurasian eagle owls, and medium- and large-sized felines.

The species has a long history of association with humans, having been extensively hunted as a pest and furbearer for many centuries, as well as being represented in human folklore and mythology. Because of its widespread distribution and large population, the red fox is one of the most important furbearing animals harvested for the fur trade. Too small to pose a threat to humans, it has extensively benefited from the presence of human habitation, and has successfully colonized many suburban and urban areas. Domestication of the red fox is also underway in Russia, and has resulted in the domesticated red fox.

Jan. 5, 2023

School Bus

On January 5, 2023, in High Point, NC, the United States Postal Service® will issue the School Bus stamp (Non-denominated Additional Ounce Rate) in one design, in a self-adhesive pane of 20 and coil of 100. The issue celebrates the iconic yellow school bus and its role in ensuring that millions of children get to school and home again every day. The stamp features a stylized illustration of a 21st century yellow school bus, in profile in front of a silhouetted schoolhouse that is more evocative of an earlier era. Artist Steve Wolf worked with art director Greg Breeding and stamp designer Mike Ryan.

A school bus is any type of bus owned, leased, contracted to, or operated by a school or school district. It is regularly used to transport students to and from school or school-related activities, but not including a charter bus or transit bus. Various configurations of school buses are used worldwide; the most iconic examples are the yellow school buses of the United States and Canada which are also found in other parts of the world.

In North America, school buses are purpose-built vehicles distinguished from other types of buses by design characteristics mandated by federal and state/province regulations. In addition to their distinct paint color (school bus yellow), school buses are fitted with exterior warning lights (to give them traffic priority) and multiple safety devices.

Jan. 12, 2023

Year of the Rabbit

On January 12, 2023, in San Francisco, CA, the United States Postal Service® will issue the Lunar New Year: Year of the Rabbit stamp (Forever® priced at the First-Class Mail® rate) in one design, in a self-adhesive pane of 20 stamps. The fourth of 12 stamps in the latest Lunar New Year stamp series celebrates the Year of the Rabbit. Calling to mind the elaborately decorated masks used in the dragon or lion dances often performed in Lunar New Year parades, this three-dimensional mask depicting a rabbit is a contemporary take on the long tradition of paper-cut folk art crafts created during this auspicious time of year. The rabbit mask design incorporates colors and patterns with symbolic meaning. Art director Antonio Alcalá designed the stamp and pane with original art by Camille Chew.

Lunar New Year is the beginning of a calendar year whose months are moon cycles, based on the lunar calendar or lunisolar calendar. The Lunar New Year as a celebration is observed by numerous cultures. It is featured in the Chinese calendar of the East Asian cultural sphere, the Hindu-Buddhist calendars of South and Southeast Asia, the Islamic calendar and the Jewish calendar in the Middle East, and is also celebrated by the indigenous Nisga’a people of Canada.

Chinese New Year is one of the most important holidays in Chinese culture, and has strongly influenced Lunar New Year celebrations of its 56 ethnic groups, such as the Losar of Tibet, and of China’s neighbors, including the Korean New Year, and the Tết of Vietnam, as well as in Okinawa. It is also celebrated worldwide in regions and countries that house significant Overseas Chinese or Sinophone populations, especially in Southeast Asia. These include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. It is also prominent beyond Asia, especially in Australia, Canada, Mauritius, New Zealand, Peru, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States, as well as various European countries.

Within China, regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the New Year vary widely, and the evening preceding the New Year’s Day is frequently regarded as an occasion for Chinese families to gather for the annual reunion dinner. It is also a tradition for every family to thoroughly clean their house, in order to sweep away any ill fortune and to make way for incoming good luck. Another custom is the decoration of windows and doors with red paper-cuts and couplets. Popular themes among these paper-cuts and couplets include good fortune or happiness, wealth, and longevity. Other activities include lighting firecrackers and giving money in red paper envelopes.

Jan. 19, 2023

Love – Kitty & Puppy

On January 19, 2023, in Austin, TX, the United States Postal Service® will issue the Love 2023 stamps (Forever® priced at the First-Class Mail® rate) in two designs, in a self-adhesive pane of 20 stamps. The Postal Service™ continues its popular Love series with two new stamps, one featuring a kitten and the other a puppy with the word “LOVE” in all caps behind each animal. Both kitten and puppy are shown with their front paws resting atop a big red heart. The stamp designs were painted with oils on wood panel, then scanned and edited digitally to create the final pieces of art. Art director Ethel Kessler designed the stamps with original art by Chris Buzelli.

Cats and dogs are two of America’s favorite pets, and it is no surprise that connecting with pets has benefits. Pets provide companionship and love; interacting with a cuddly kitten or a playful puppy can reduce loneliness and raise spirits. Some studies have even shown that pets might also be responsible for lower blood pressure, improved heart health and lowered stress.

The first LOVE stamp was initially called “A Special Stamp for Someone Special” and was designed by pop artist Robert Indiana. More than 320 million stamps were issued in January 1973. In keeping with the theme, it was released in Philadelphia “The City of Brotherly Love.” At that time, the USPS did not sell it as a LOVE stamp and probably did not even think of it as the beginning of a new series. The stamp design featured Indiana’s LOVE sculpture consisting of four simple letters built in steel and standing at its home on the grounds of the Indianapolis Museum of Art since 1970. Indiana intentionally designed the slanting of the “O” as to have the negative space forming a “V” in between the letters, which he said “makes the letters dynamic.”

Jan. 22, 2023

Florida Everglades

On January 22, 2023, in Homestead, FL, the United States Postal Service® will issue the Florida Everglades $9.95 Priority Mail® stamp in a self-adhesive pane of four stamps. Spanning some 2 million acres in southern Florida, from Lake Okeechobee to Florida Bay, the Everglades is one of the largest wetlands in the world and the most significant breeding ground for tropical wading birds in North America. This new Priority Mail stamp celebrates the Florida Everglades with stamp art that shows a sawgrass marsh as seen at sunset from the edge of a cypress dome. Designed by art director Greg Breeding, the stamp showcases a digital illustration by Dan Cosgrove. The Florida Everglades Priority Mail stamp will be issued in Homestead, FL, without a ceremony.

The Everglades is a natural region of tropical wetlands in the southern portion of the U.S. state of Florida, comprising the southern half of a large drainage basin within the Neotropical realm. The system begins near Orlando with the Kissimmee River, which discharges into the vast but shallow Lake Okeechobee. Water leaving the lake in the wet season forms a slow-moving river 60 miles (97 kilometers) wide and over 100 miles (160 kilometers) long, flowing southward across a limestone shelf to Florida Bay at the southern end of the state. The Everglades experiences a wide range of weather patterns, from frequent flooding in the wet season to drought in the dry season. Throughout the 20th century, the Everglades suffered significant loss of habitat and environmental degradation.

Human habitation in the southern portion of the Florida peninsula dates to 15,000 years ago. Before European colonization, the region was dominated by the native Calusa and Tequesta tribes. With Spanish colonization, both tribes declined gradually during the following two centuries. The Seminole, formed from mostly Creek people who had been warring to the North, assimilated other peoples and created a new culture after being forced from northern Florida into the Everglades during the Seminole Wars of the early 19th century. After adapting to the region, they were able to resist removal by the United States Army.

Migrants to the region who wanted to develop plantations first proposed draining the Everglades in 1848, but no work of this type was attempted until 1882. Canals were constructed throughout the first half of the 20th century, and spurred the South Florida economy, prompting land development. In 1947, Congress formed the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control Project, which built 1,400 miles (2,300 km) of canals, levees, and water control devices. The Miami metropolitan area grew substantially at this time and Everglades water was diverted to cities. Portions of the Everglades were transformed into farmland, where the primary crop was sugarcane. Approximately 50 percent of the original Everglades has been developed as agricultural or urban areas.

The first written record of the Everglades was on Spanish maps made by cartographers who had not seen the land. They named the unknown area between the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of Florida Laguna del Espíritu Santo (“Lake of the Holy Spirit”). The area was featured on maps for decades without having been explored. Writer James Grant Forbes stated in 1811, “The Indians represent [the Southern points] as impenetrable; and the [British] surveyors, wreckers, and coasters, had not the means of exploring beyond the borders of the sea coast, and the mouths of rivers”. British surveyor John Gerard de Brahm, who mapped the coast of Florida in 1773, called the area “River Glades”. The name “Everglades” first appeared on a map in 1823, although it was also spelled as “Ever Glades” as late as 1851. The Seminole call it Pahokee, meaning “Grassy Water”. The region was labeled “Pa-hai-okee” on a U.S. military map from 1839, although it had earlier been called “Ever Glades” throughout the Second Seminole War.

Jan. 22, 2023

Great Smoky Mountains

On January 22, 2023, in Gatlinburg, TN, the United States Postal Service® will issue the Great Smoky Mountains $26.95 Priority Mail Express® stamp in a self-adhesive pane of four stamps. Home to the most visited national park in the United States, the Great Smoky Mountains boast extensive national forests and a vast array of native plants and animals. Equally rich in history, folkways and culture, they are an American treasure, which the Postal Service celebrates with this new Priority Mail Express stamp. The stamp art captures an iconic mountain scene located near Newfound Gap between Gatlinburg, TN, and Cherokee, NC. In the foreground, a red-tailed hawk flies over the landscape. Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamp with original art by Dan Cosgrove.

The Great Smoky Mountains (Cherokee: ᎡᏆ ᏚᏧᏍᏚ ᏙᏓᎸ, Equa Dutsusdu Dodalv) are a mountain range rising along the Tennessee–North Carolina border in the southeastern United States. They are a subrange of the Appalachian Mountains, and form part of the Blue Ridge Physiographic Province. The range is sometimes called the Smoky Mountains and the name is commonly shortened to the Smokies. The Great Smokies are best known as the home of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which protects most of the range. The park was established in 1934, and, with over 11 million visits per year, it is the most visited national park in the United States.

The Great Smokies are part of an International Biosphere Reserve. The range is home to an estimated 187,000 acres (76,000 ha) of old growth forest, constituting the largest such stand east of the Mississippi River. The cove hardwood forests in the range’s lower elevations are among the most diverse ecosystems in North America, and the Southern Appalachian spruce-fir forest that coats the range’s upper elevations is the largest of its kind. The Great Smokies are also home to the densest black bear population in the Eastern United States and the most diverse salamander population outside of the tropics.

Along with the Biosphere reserve, the Great Smokies have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The U.S. National Park Service preserves and maintains 78 structures within the national park that were once part of the numerous small Appalachian communities scattered throughout the range’s river valleys and coves. The park contains five historic districts and nine individual listings on the National Register of Historic Places.

The name “Smoky” comes from the natural fog that often hangs over the range and presents as large smoke plumes from a distance. This fog is caused by the vegetation emitting volatile organic compounds, chemicals that have a high vapor pressure and easily form vapors at normal temperature and pressure.

Jan. 22, 2023


On January 22, 2023, in Lahaina, HI, the United States Postal Service® will issue the Sailboats stamps (Non-denominated priced at the Postcard rate) in two designs, in a self-adhesive pane of 20 stamps and coil of 100 stamps. The Sailboats stamps celebrate a favorite American outdoor activity with two colorful new postcard stamps. They feature abstract illustrations that capture the joyful sensation of being on the water on a beautiful day. The graphic art was designed and created by artist Libby VanderPloeg, who also created the lettering for the word “postcard,” freehand on a digital tablet. Antonio Alcalá was art director for the project.

A sailboat or sailing boat is a boat propelled partly or entirely by sails and is smaller than a sailing ship. Distinctions in what constitutes a sailing boat and ship vary by region and maritime culture. Although sailboat terminology has varied across history, many terms have specific meanings in the context of modern yachting. A great number of sailboat-types may be distinguished by size, hull configuration, keel type, purpose, number and configuration of masts, and sail plan.

Popular monohull designs include: cutter, catboat, dinghy, ketch, schooner, sloop, and yawl. The most common modern sailboat is the sloop, which features one mast and two sails, typically a Bermuda rigged main, and a headsail. This simple configuration is very efficient for sailing into the wind. A fractional rigged sloop has its forestay attached at a point below the top of the mast, allowing the mainsail to be flattened to improve performance by raking the upper part of the mast aft by tensioning the backstay. A smaller headsail is easier for a short-handed crew to manage.

Jan. 23, 2023

Ernest J. Gaines

On January 23, 2023, in Lafayette, LA, the United States Postal Service® will issue the Ernest J. Gaines stamp (Forever® priced at the First-Class Mail® rate) in one design, in a self-adhesive pane of 20 stamps. The 46th stamp in the Black Heritage series honors author Ernest J. Gaines (1933–2019). Best known for such novels as The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and A Lesson Before Dying, Gaines drew from his childhood as the son of sharecroppers on a Louisiana plantation to explore the untold stories of rural African Americans. The stamp features an oil painting of Gaines based on a 2001 photograph by Raoul Benavides. Mike Ryan designed the stamp with art by Robert Peterson. Greg Breeding served as art director.

Ernest James Gaines (January 15, 1933 – November 5, 2019) was an American author whose works have been taught in college classrooms and translated into many languages, including French, Spanish, German, Russian and Chinese. Four of his works were made into television movies. His 1993 novel, A Lesson Before Dying, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction. Gaines was a MacArthur Foundation fellow, was awarded the National Humanities Medal, and was inducted into the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters) as a Chevalier.

Gaines was among the fifth generation of his sharecropper family to be born on a plantation in Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana. That became the setting and premise for many of his later works. He was the eldest of 12 children, raised by his aunt, who was disabled and had to crawl to get around the house. Although born generations after the end of slavery, Gaines grew up impoverished, living in old slave quarters on a plantation.

Gaines’ first years of school took place in the plantation church. When the children were not picking cotton in the fields, a visiting teacher came for five to six months of the year to provide basic education. Gaines then spent three years at St. Augustine School, a Catholic school for African Americans in New Roads, Louisiana. Schooling for African-American children did not continue beyond the eighth grade during this time in Pointe Coupee Parish.

When he was 15 years old, Gaines moved to Vallejo, California, to join his mother and stepfather, who had left Louisiana during World War II. His first novel was written at the age of 17, while Gaines was babysitting his youngest brother, Michael. According to one account, he wrapped it in brown paper, tied it with string, and sent it to a New York publisher, who rejected it. Gaines burned the manuscript, but later rewrote it to become his first published novel, Catherine Carmier.

In 1956, Gaines published his first short story, “The Turtles”, in a college magazine at San Francisco State University (SFSU). The next year he earned a degree in literature from SFSU. After spending two years in the Army, he won a writing fellowship to Stanford University.

From 1981 until retiring in 2004, Gaines was a Writer-in-Residence at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. In 1996, Gaines spent a full semester as a visiting professor at the University of Rennes in France, where he taught the first creative writing class ever offered in the French university system.

In the final years of his life, Gaines lived on Louisiana Highway 1 in Oscar, Louisiana, where he and his wife built a home on part of the old plantation where he grew up. He had the building where he attended church and school moved to his property. Gaines died from natural causes at his home on November 5, 2019. He was 86 years old.

U.S. postage stamps were in use for nearly a century before Booker T. Washington became the first African American to appear on one. A handful of additional black history-related designs appeared between 1940 and 1978, when the U.S. Postal Service — as part of its mission to “celebrate the people, events, and cultural milestones that are unique to our great nation” — created a new stamp series to honor African-Americans and the vital role they have played in U. S. history. Called the Black Heritage Stamp series, it is today the longest-running U.S. stamp series.

One thought on “Stamps of 2023: United States (January 2023)

  1. Pingback: Stamps of 2023: Monthly Wrap-Up (January) | Mark Joseph Jochim

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