This Week's Podcast: A Replay: Flowers Forever – with William Gicker of the USPS
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Antique portraits of plants are gracing the United States Postal Service Forever Stamps this year. Our guest on the podcast and radio show is William Gicker, who has been with the service for 17 years and is now the Manager of Stamp Development. He directs the stamp selection process.
Bill tells us how the images for stamps are chosen. “Many suggestions come from the public,” he said. And to my surprise, he noted that floral stamps are among the most popular of all. It turns out there have been over 360 floral stamps, all of which can be seen on the USPS website. “Consumers demand them.”
That’s what led the Service to choose their latest floral introductions: ten details of nursery catalog covers from 1891 to 1912. The catalogs come from the prestigious collection of the LuEsther T. Mertz library at the New York Botanical Garden. The library has cataloged all 58,000 items in the Nursery and Seed collection and digitized the contents of 1,400 of them printed prior to 1923.
I cannot imagine that Ixia or corn lily, which I rarely see offered anymore, was so prominently featured. But there it is along with others featuring the likes of amazing double petunias and hybrid Japanese iris. I’m not as surprised to find tulips, but “broken” tulips – striped like the old Dutch varieties? That’s more impressive. There are also dahlias, double daffodils and sweet-smelling stock – fragrant plants that, along with some other species known for their perfume, were called gilliflowers 100 years ago.
Do people always buy stamps because they need them to mail a letter? Usually, but like me, many folks walk into the post office and may see a series displayed that is just so eye-catching we have to have them. And I have to admit; I can’t bear to use them.
(Plant portrait stamps, clockwise from top left: Ixia [corn lily], Tulipa hybrids [red and white ‘Joost van Vongal’, red and yellow ‘Globe de Rigaud’, pink and white ‘Cottage Maid’], Stock [or gilliflowers — Matthiola incana], Rosa ‘The Lion’, Petunia [double fringed], Daffodils and Jonquils, hybrid tulips, Japanese Iris hybrids [violet ‘Sakata’, white ‘Tokyo’, purple ‘Shishi-odori’], peony flowered Dahlia, Tulipa hybrids [red ‘Belle Alliance’, white ‘Pottebakker White’, yellow ‘Chrysolora’].)
Suggestions for stamps can be sent via US mail to:
The Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee
475 L’Enfant Plaza, SW, Room 3300
Washington, DC 20260-3501
(For more information on the New York Botanical Garden’s Library collection of catalogs visit their website.