New USPS Pets stamps: When and how you can get them

By Michael Baadke

The United States Postal Service will issue its set of 20 nondenominated (47¢) Pets forever stamps on Aug. 2, with a first-day ceremony in Las Vegas, Nev.

The 1 p.m. event will take place in South Seas Ballroom F at Mandalay Bay Resort, 3950 S. Las Vegas Blvd., in association with SuperZoo, a national trade show for pet retailers.

Postal Service representatives have told Linn’s that the ceremony will be open to the public. Chief Marketing and Sales Officer and Executive Vice President Jim Cochrane is the dedicating official who will represent the USPS.

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The 20 stamps are being issued together in a double-sided pane of 20, described as a booklet by the Postal Service. Each stamp shows a photograph of one pet: puppy, betta fish, iguana, hamster, goldfish, kitten, rabbit, tortoise, guinea pig, parrot, corn snake, mouse, hermit crab, chinchilla, gerbil, gecko, cat, horse, parakeet, and dog.

The stamp designs use existing photographs by Eric Isselee of the different animals, each with a white background.

Each design also includes a word or two to describe the pet group the pictured animal represents (such as, “guinea pigs”), along with “forever usa” and the word “pets.”

The designer for this issue is USPS art director Derry Noyes, who was inspired by her lifelong love of animals, according to the Postal Service.

“The goal was to capture the essence of each animal,” she said. “There’s no need for special effects. The animals speak for themselves. I love the variety of shapes, colors, textures, and facial expressions.”

The Postal Service ordered a large initial print run of 400 million Pets stamps, a sign, perhaps, that USPS officials expect the Pets stamps to be popular with the stamp-buying public.

The new stamps are very similar in subject matter and design to the 10 different 44¢ Animal Rescue Shelter Pets stamps issued April 30, 2010, in a pane of 20 (Scott 4451-4460).

That earlier set was so popular that the initial print run of 300 stamps was bolstered by a second printing of 91.4 million stamps announced six months after the stamps were first issued.

The new Pets stamps feature a well-rounded selection of domesticated animals, including two cats and two dogs, two birds, two fish, four reptiles, six rodents, a horse and a hermit crab.

Animals have always been popular with topical stamp collectors, and dogs, cats and birds are among the favorite subjects. Pets are also popular with the American public, according to the Postal Service, with more than half of U.S. homes having at least one pet.

“The most common pets are dogs and cats,” the Postal Service noted. “These furry, four-legged family members have long provided love, friendship, and sometimes protection for their owners.”

Other U.S. issues that have featured domesticated animals include the two 2002 37¢ Neuter and Spay stamps (Scott 3670-3671), the 1998 Bright Eyes set of five 32¢ stamps with cartoon-style designs (3230-3234), the 1988 Cats set of four 22¢ stamps (2372-2375), and the 1984 Dogs set of four 20¢ stamps (2098-2101).

The digital color first-day postmark for the Pets issue features silhouette images of six different animals, each in a bold, solid color: horse, goldfish, snake, dog, cat, and parrot. This postmark is used on certain uncacheted first-day covers sold in a set of 20 by the Postal Service.

Press sheets consisting of 160 stamps (eight panes of 20) are being offered as well. The total number of press sheets made available to collectors was not announced.

Technical details and first-day cancel ordering information for the Pets forever stamps issue can be found below.

Nondenominated (47¢) Pets stamps, double-sided pane of 20

FIRST DAY— Aug. 2, 2016; city— Las Vegas, Nev., and nationwide.

DESIGN: photographer— Eric Isselee; art director, designer and typographer— Derry Noyes, Washington, D.C.; modeler— Joseph Sheeran.

PRINTING: process— offset; printer and processor— Ashton Potter USA Ltd., Williamsville, N.Y.; press— Muller A76; inks— cyan, magenta, yellow, black; paper— nonphosphored Type III with block tagging; gum— self-adhesive; issue quantity— 400 million stamps; format— double-sided pane of 20 from 880-subject cylinder; size— 1.05 inches by 0.77 inches (image); 1.19 inches by 0.91 inches (overall), 2.38 inches by 5.76 inches (pane size); 23.29 inches by 4.76 inches (press sheet); plate numbers— “P” followed by four single digits; marginal markings— Header “Pets,“ “©2015 USPS,” USPS logo, plate numbers, promotional text, “Twenty First-class Forever Stamps,” bar code; USPS item No.— 680704.

First-day cancel ordering information

Standard ordering instructions apply. Collectors requesting first-day cancels are encouraged to purchase their own stamps and affix them to envelopes. The first-day cover envelopes should be addressed for return (a removable label may be used), and mailed in a larger envelope addressed to Pets Stamps, United States Postal Service, Attn: Marilyn Wassell, 1001 E. Sunset Road, #2009, Las Vegas, NV 89199-9998. Requests for first-day cancels must be postmarked by Oct. 2.

The Postal Service’s set of 20 uncacheted first-day covers for the Pets stamps is item 680716. USPS order numbers for stamps and FDCs also appear in Linn’s 2016 U.S. Stamp Program.