National Stamp Collecting Month Starts With a 'Splash'

Wed Sep 30, 2009 3:26pm EDT

* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.

Underwater Stamps to be Released ... Underwater!

MONTEREY, Calif., Sept. 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Creatures of central
California's kelp forest will swim into the nation's mail stream when SCUBA
divers unveil the Nature of America:  Kelp Forest collectible souvenir sheet
stamps and stamped postal cards to launch National Stamp Collecting Month

The underwater unveiling airs live on streaming video from the Monterey Bay
Aquarium's Kelp Forest Exhibit on October 1 at 8:30 a.m. PT when all 25
million stamps and stamped postal cards go on sale nationwide. Media can
download broadcast quality B-roll of the event from this link on Oct. 1 at
noon PT/3 p.m. ET October 1.

"Tomorrow we celebrate the beginning of National Stamp Collecting Month, one
of the world's most popular hobbies," said U.S. Postal Service Board of
Governor member Mickey D. Barnett, who will dedicate the stamps. "Stamps are
fun and educational tools that highlight the American experience. They
commemorate America's heroes, leaders, inventors and artists and honor our
ideals and achievements. They also pay homage to the land we love and the
great diversity and natural beauty of our country.

Ten years ago the Postal Service began a new series dedicated to the unique
ecosystems across our nation. The Kelp Forest set -- the 11th in our Nature of
America series -- not only highlights the complexity of the kelp forest as an
ecosystem, but also captures the incredible beauty of this remarkable undersea

Joining Barnett in dedicating the stamps will be Monterey Bay Aquarium
Managing Director Jim Hekkers, Nature of America stamp series artist John
Dawson and Monterey Bay Aquarium Guest Program Assistant Manager Traci Reid.
Aquarium volunteer SCUBA divers Scott Chapman and Chad King, Web Developer and
Research Specialist, respectively, of the Monterey Bay National Marine
Sanctuary, will unveil the stamps underwater inside the kelp forest exhibit. 

"We are excited that the United States Postal Service is highlighting this
important ecosystem in its collectible stamp series," said Hekkers. "It is
meaningful to unveil it in October, which marks the Monterey Bay Aquarium's
25th anniversary, and in our signature Kelp Forest exhibit, as our mission is
to inspire conservation of the oceans."

Dawson, of Hilo, HI, created the artwork for the entire Nature of America
series under the direction of art director Ethel Kessler of Bethesda, MD.
Previous issuances were Sonoran Desert (1999), Pacific Coast Rain Forest
(2000), Great Plains Prairie (2001), Longleaf Pine Forest (2002), Arctic
Tundra (2003), Pacific Coral Reef (2004), Northeast Deciduous Forest (2005),
Southern Florida Wetland (2006), Alpine Tundra (2007) and Great Lakes Dunes

To illustrate the biodiversity of a kelp forest, Dawson depicted 27 species in
his colorful acrylic painting. The scene itself is imaginary as a dense
grouping of creatures was necessary to illustrate as many species as possible
on the stamp sheet. Even so, all of the species could be encountered at or
near the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the area featured on the
pane. All of the species and their interactions are appropriate and were
recommended by scientists. A description of the kelp forest and a numbered key
to the artwork appear on the back of the stamp pane, along with a
corresponding list of common and scientific names for 27 selected species

National Stamp Collecting Month:  Connecting Students to Stamps
In connection with October as National Stamp Collecting Month, the Postal
Service has forged a community partnership -- Community Connection -- that
contributes to the school improvement plans of elementary school teachers

Community Connection provides schools with the resources of 32,700 area Post
Offices, the country's largest and most extraordinary archive of American
history and culture, and exciting new cross-curricular tools for teaching
through stamps and other curriculum-connected classroom tools designed for
primary grade implementation in the 2009-2010 school year.

First-Day-of-Issue Postmarks
Customers have 60 days to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmark by mail. They
may purchase new stamps at their local Post Office, or at the Postal Store
website at, or by calling   800-STAMP-24. They should affix
the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes, to themselves
or others, and place them in a larger envelope addressed to:

Nature of America:  Kelp Forest Stamp
565 Hartnell Street
Monterey, CA  93940-9998

After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will return
the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark. All
orders must be postmarked by Dec. 2, 2009.

How to Order First-Day Covers
Stamp Fulfillment Services also offers first-day covers for new stamp issues
and Postal Service stationery items postmarked with the official
first-day-of-issue cancellation. Each item has an individual catalog number
and is offered in the quarterly USA Philatelic catalog. Customers may request
a free catalog by calling 800-STAMP-24 or writing to:

Information Fulfillment
Dept. 6270
U.S. Postal Service
PO Box 219014
Kansas City, MO  64121-9014

Philatelic Products
There are six philatelic products available for this stamp issue:

464062, First-Day Cover Full Sheet, $6.90.
464064, Cancelled Full Sheet, $6.90.
464066/896900, Oversized Premium Stamped Cards, $8.95.
464084, Uncut Press Sheet, $35.20.
464091, Ceremony Program with 10 stamps, $6.95.
464093, First Day Cover Keepsake Full Pane/Cancelled Sheet, $11.30.

An independent federal agency, the U.S. Postal Service is the only delivery
service that reaches every address in the nation, 149 million residences,
businesses and Post Office Boxes, six days a week. It has 34,000 retail
locations and relies on the sale of postage, products and services, not tax
dollars, to pay for operating expenses. Named the Most Trusted Government
Agency five consecutive years by the Ponemon Institute, the Postal Service has
annual revenue of $75 billion and delivers nearly half the world's mail. To
learn about the history of the Postal Service visit the Smithsonian's National
Postal Museum:

SOURCE  U.S. Postal Service

Mark Saunders of U.S. Postal Service, (O) +1-202-268-6524, (C)
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