The National Cherry Blossom Festival Is Now in Full Swing

Yesterday marked the beginning of the 2013 National Cherry Blossom Festival, an annual event in Washington, D.C., celebrating the gift of more than 3,000 Japanese cherry blossom trees from the city of Tokyo, Japan. This year the festival runs from March 20 through April 14.

Cherry Blossom CentennialIn a modest ceremony at the Tidal Basin on March 27, 1912, First Lady Helen Herron “Nellie” Taft and Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador, planted the first two trees. The remaining trees were placed around the Tidal Basin and elsewhere in Washington.

After the trees were planted, Colonel Spencer Cosby of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who supervised the project, wrote prophetically about them to Mayor Ozaki in Tokyo:

The trees completely surround the Tidal Basin and, when in bloom in the spring, will make a magnificent display. . . . In a few years this will undoubtedly be one of the famous sights of Washington, and a constant reminder to our citizens of the kindly feeling of your City and Country.

One of the great legacies of Nellie Taft’s years as First Lady was the beautification of what is today known as Potomac Park. Mrs. Taft visualized the area embellished with Japanese cherry trees that would bloom profusely with white and pink flowers every spring.

This limited-quantity bundle features three collectible items from the Cherry Blossom stamp series and makes an ideal gift for collectors and cherry blossom enthusiasts alike. This bundle contains one set of Cherry Blossom Centennial Notecards, a pack of five Cherry Blossom Centennial Tote Bags, and one Cherry Blossom Centennial Commemorative Panel.

This limited-quantity bundle contains one set of note cards, five Cherry Blossom tote bags, and one American Commemorative Panel. Click the image for details.

In 1927, local citizens held a pageant, including a reenactment of the original planting ceremony, to celebrate the gift of the stunning trees. During the 1930s, similar celebrations became annual events. Revived after a hiatus during World War II, the National Cherry Blossom Festival today encompasses myriad events such as a parade, concerts, galas, and a variety of cultural events, drawing more than a million visitors to the nation’s capital each year.

The 2012 Cherry Blossom Centennial Forever® stamps (and many related philatelic products) are still available from The Postal Store. (Forever® stamps are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail® one-ounce rate.)

Send Letters Worldwide With New Global Forever® Stamp

Do you fancy sending a letter to friends and family overseas? The Global Forever® stamp—which is available in Post Offices and online beginning today—offers a single price for a one-ounce First-Class Mail International letter to any country in the world. You can also use this gorgeous new stamp to mail a two-ounce letter to Canada.

InternationalGlobal-Forever-Single-BGv1

From 1999 to 2012, USPS showcased the wide-ranging beauty of our nation with its Scenic American Landscapes series. Now, the Global Forever stamp will showcase the beauty of our entire planet with this rendering of Earth—a composite of images created from satellite data and redesigned with 3D computer technology.

As with all Forever stamps, the value of the Global Forever stamp will be equivalent to the price in effect at the time of mailing. The stamp’s round design and the words “Global Forever” distinguish it from other Forever stamps. It is being issued in self-adhesive panes of 20 stamps at the $1.10 rate, or $22.00 per pane.

Vermont’s Beloved Arlington Green Bridge Graces New Priority Mail Stamp

The 2013 Priority Mail stamp has arrived, and it’s a real beauty . . . just like the bridge it honors: Arlington Green Bridge in Bennington County, Vermont. Built in 1852, Arlington Green Bridge is one of the best loved and most photographed bridges in Vermont. It takes its name from the village green that it overlooks.

ArlingtonGreenBridge560-single-BGv1The bridge spans the Batten Kill trout stream in Arlington, just off Route 313 in southern Vermont. Although it stretches 80 feet across the stream, the bridge’s roadbed is only wide enough to allow one lane of traffic to rumble over its wooden planks at a time. The white steeple of the Chapel on the Green rises above the far end of the bridge, and just beyond stands a farmhouse where American artist Norman Rockwell lived and worked from 1943 to 1953.

The Arlington Green Bridge is constructed from wooden planks and timbers, using the lattice truss design patented by architect Ithiel Town in 1820. Five rectangular windows ornament each side of the structure. According to local tradition, the bridge’s sturdiness was demonstrated shortly after it was built when it was swept off its abutments by a flood and came to rest on its side, still spanning the stream. People walked across the flat side of the bridge until it could be righted. Because the bridge was too heavy to be shifted in one piece, it had to be disassembled and rebuilt in its proper place, where it stands today.

We love how artist Dan Cosgrove somehow managed to create an illustration of the bridge that is both modern and retro. What do you think?

The Arlington Green Bridge stamp is available in sheets of 10 self-adhesive stamps, blocks of 4 self-adhesive stamps, or singly.

Spicebush Swallowtail Stamps Take Wing Today

The new butterfly stamp is finally here! If you liked the 2010 monarch stamp and last year’s Baltimore checkerspot stamp, then you’ll love the newest addition to our line of butterfly stamps: spicebush swallowtail.

Spicebush65up-single-v1One of the most beautiful and intriguing of the swallowtail butterflies, the spicebush swallowtail (Papilio troilus)—which has a wingspan of 3 to 4 inches—is mostly black with ivory spots on the forewings and bands of blue or blue-green iridescence with ivory to pale green spots on the hind wings. It is commonly found along the east coast of North America, from Canada to Florida, but can range as far west as Texas. Adult butterflies sip nectar from flowers including honeysuckle, azalea, and jewelweed.

The new 66-cent stamp is intended for use on large greeting card envelopes and other mail of non-standard shapes and sizes. Envelopes for many large cards requiring the additional postage will feature a silhouette of a butterfly to suggest the use of this stamp.

Do you have any tips for attracting this wonderful butterfly to your garden? Share them with us in the comments.

Second of Five Muscle Cars Stamps Revealed

Let’s continue our special sneak peek of the limited-edition Muscle Cars Forever® stamps today with the second of the five stamps: the 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona.

Dodge Charger Daytona is a trademark of Chrysler Group LLC.

Dodge Charger Daytona is a trademark of Chrysler Group LLC.

The outrageously styled 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona was designed to dominate on the racetrack. The car, which underwent wind-tunnel testing before its release, took the checkered flag at its NASCAR debut in September 1969 at Alabama International Motor Speedway in Talladega.

The production version of the car was powered by a standard 440-cubic-inch, 375-horsepower Magnum engine. A limited number of Daytonas were also available with a 426-cubic-inch Hemi, a race-inspired engine Chrysler introduced earlier that decade. (Chrysler first used a version of the Hemi—a high-performance engine with hemispherical combustion chambers—in automobiles in the 1950s.)

Concealed headlights, fender-mounted scoops, a nearly two-foot tall, rear-mounted wing, and an 18-inch nose piece helped boost aerodynamics. Other signature touches were thick body stripes containing the word “DAYTONA.”

The distinctive vehicles were not easy to come by. In order to qualify for NASCAR racing, at least 500 Daytonas had to be made available for purchase. Only 503 were produced.

The Muscle Cars stamps are being issued as Forever® stamps. (Forever stamps are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail one-ounce rate.) They are the third issuance in the American on the Move series and will be released in February. To see the other stamps in the series, visit Beyond the Perf.

We’ll reveal another of the five Muscle Car stamps tomorrow. Any guesses about which car might be featured?