The last set of stamps covered here was the O Beautiful sheet of 20 released on the Fourth of July.

Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? – Bloomington, Minnesota: July 14, 2014
United States - Scooby Doo - July 14, 2018
United States – Scooby-Doo – July 14, 2018

On July 14, the USPS released a single stamp in a pane of 12 portraying the cartoon character Scooby-Doo from the animated TV series of the same name, produced from 1969 to the present day. Writers Joe Ruby and Ken Spears created the original series, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, for Hanna-Barbera Productions in 1969. This Saturday-morning cartoon series featured four teenagers — Fred Jones, Daphne Blake, Velma Dinkley, and Norville “Shaggy” Rogers — and their talking brown Great Dane named Scooby-Doo, who solve mysteries involving supposedly supernatural creatures through a series of antics and missteps.

Following the success of the original series, Hanna-Barbera and its successor Warner Bros. Animation have produced numerous follow-up and spin-off animated series and several related works, including television specials and made-for-TV movies, a line of direct-to-video films, and two Warner Bros.–produced theatrical feature films. Some versions of Scooby-Doo feature different variations on the show’s supernatural theme, and include characters such as Scooby’s cousin Scooby-Dum and nephew Scrappy-Doo in addition to or instead of some of the original characters.

Scooby-Doo was originally broadcast on CBS from 1969 to 1975, when it moved to ABC. ABC aired the show until canceling it in 1986, and presented a spin-off featuring the characters as children, A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, from 1988 until 1991. New Scooby-Doo series aired as part of Kids’ WB on The WB Network and its successor, The CW Network, from 2002 until 2008. Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated aired on Cartoon Network from 2010 to 2013, and Be Cool, Scooby-Doo! aired on Cartoon Network from 2015 to 2018. Repeats of the various Scooby-Doo series are broadcast frequently on Cartoon Network’s sister channel Boomerang in the United States as well as other countries. In 2013, TV Guide ranked Scooby-Doo the fifth Greatest TV Cartoon of All Time.

The new Forever stamp is part of a campaign highlighting a new social responsibility initiative called Scooby-Doo DOO GOOD and pictures Scooby-Doo helping out by watering a blossoming plant in a flowerpot — a simple act symbolizing a component of the “Doo Good” campaign’s to provide young people with tools and activities geared toward enriching the environment. The campaign, launching this year in partnership with generationOn, the youth division of Points of Light, also focuses on helping the hungry and acting as animal allies. Art director Greg Breeding worked closely with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, Inc. to design this stamp.

Scooby-Doo first day of issue postmarks
Scooby-Doo first day of issue postmarks

The stamp was issued in Bloomington, Minnesota, on July 14, Forever-priced at the First-Class Mail rate) in one design, in a pressure-sensitive adhesive pane of 12 stamps. The Scooby-Doo! pane of 12 stamps may not be split and the stamps may not be sold individually, according to the USPS announcement. The stamps were printed using the offset process by Ashton Potter (USA) Ltd. at Williamsville, New York with a total of 252,000,000 stamps printed.

World War I, Turning the Tide – Kansas City, Missouri: July 27, 2018
United States - World War I - July 27, 2018
United States – World War I – July 27, 2018

With this stamp, released on July 27 in Kansas City, the Postal Service paid tribute to the sacrifice of American soldiers and millions of supporters on the home front who experienced World War I. Entering World War I (1914–1918) in its later stages, the United States helped turn the tide of war in favor of the Allies. The stamp art features a close-up of a member of the American Expeditionary Force holding the U.S. flag. Barbed wire can be seen in the background, as well as an airplane in flight and smoke rising up from the battlefield. The artwork was painted in airbrush on illustration board, a technique that evokes the propaganda posters used during World War I. Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamp with art by Mark Stutzman. There were 20,000,000 Forever stamps issued in self-adhesive panes of 20.

he American Expeditionary Forces was a formation of the United States Army on the Western Front of World War I. The AEF was established on July 5, 1917, in France under the command of General John J. Pershing. It fought alongside French Army, British Army, Canadian Army, and Australian Army units against the German Empire. A minority of the AEF troops also fought alongside Italian Army units in that same year against the Austro-Hungarian Army. The AEF helped the French Army on the Western Front during the Aisne Offensive (at the Battle of Château-Thierry and Battle of Belleau Wood) in the summer of 1918, and fought its major actions in the Battle of Saint-Mihiel and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in the latter part of 1918.

olumn of American troops passing Buckingham Palace, London, 1917
Column of American troops passing Buckingham Palace, London, 1917

By June 1917, only 14,000 American soldiers, who were often called “Doughboys”, had arrived in France, and the AEF had only a minor participation at the front through late October 1917, but by May 1918 over one million American troops were stationed in France, though only half of them made it to the front lines. Since the transport ships needed to bring American troops to Europe were scarce at the beginning, the U.S. Army pressed into service passenger liners, seized German ships, and borrowed Allied ships to transport American soldiers from ports in New York City, New Jersey, and Virginia. The mobilization effort taxed the American military to the limit and required new organizational strategies and command structures to transport great numbers of troops and supplies quickly and efficiently. The French harbors of Bordeaux, La Pallice, Saint Nazaire, and Brest became the entry points into the French railway system that brought the American troops and their supplies to the Western Front. American engineers in France also built 82 new ship berths, nearly 1,000 miles (1,600 km) of additional standard-gauge tracks, and over 100,000 miles (160,000 km) of telephone and telegraph lines.

Aerial photo of the National WWI Museum and Memorial with the Kansas City skyline. Photo taken on October 8, 2014.
World War I first day of issue postmarks
World War I first day of issue postmarks

The first day ceremonies for this World War I stamp were held at the National World War I Museum and Memorial of the United States in Kansas City, Missouri, which was known as the Liberty Memorial during the nearly twenty years that I lived in the area. Originally opened in 1926, in 2004 the United States Congress designated it as America’s official museum dedicated to World War I. The Museum and Memorial are managed by a non-profit organization in cooperation with the Kansas City Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners, reopening to the public in December 2006 with an expanded, award-winning facility to exhibit an artifact collection that began in 1920. The National World War I Museum tells the story of the Great War and related global events from their origins before 1914 through the 1918 armistice and 1919 Paris Peace Conference. Visitors enter the exhibit space within the 32,000-square-foot (3,000 m²) facility across a glass bridge above a field of 9,000 red poppies, each one representing 1,000 combatant deaths.

The Art of Magic – Las Vegas, Nevada: August 7, 2018
United States – The Art of Magic – August 7, 2018
United States – The Art of Magic souvenir sheet

On August 7, 2018, in Las Vegas, NV, the U.S. Postal Service will issued The Art of Magic stamps (Forever-priced at the First-Class Mail rate) in five designs, in a pressure-sensitive adhesive pane of 20 stamps. Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamps, and Jay Fletcher created the illustrations and served as the typographer. These were offset-printed by the Banknote Corporation of America in Browns Summit, North Carolina.

The stamps celebrate the art of magic with digital illustrations of five classic tricks magicians use to amaze and delight audiences:

  • A rabbit in a hat (production),
  • A fortune teller using a crystal ball (prediction),
  • A woman floating in the air (levitation),
  • An empty bird cage (vanishing), and
  • A bird emerging from a flower (transformation).

A souvenir sheet including three copies of the disappearing rabbit stamp has also been released.

In ancient times, Greeks and Persians had been at war for centuries, and the Persian priests came to be known as magoi in Greek. Ritual acts of these Persian priests were termed magika, which eventually meant any foreign, unorthodox, or illegitimate ritual practice. During the 17th century, many books were published that described magic tricks. Until the 18th century, magic shows were a common source of entertainment at fairs. A founding figure of modern entertainment magic was Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, who had a magic theatre in Paris in 1845. John Henry Anderson was pioneering the same transition in London in the 1840s. Towards the end of the 19th century, large magic shows permanently staged at big theatre venues became the norm.

Poster promoting mind-reading.

As a form of entertainment, magic easily moved from theatrical venues to television magic specials. Performances that modern observers would recognize as conjuring have been practiced throughout history. For many recorded centuries, magicians were associated with the devil and the occult. During the 19th and 20th centuries, many stage magicians even capitalized on this notion in their advertisements. The same level of ingenuity that was used to produce famous ancient deceptions such as the Trojan Horse would also have been used for entertainment, or at least for cheating in money games.  At least one magic author has suggested that more books are written about magic than any other performing art. Although the bulk of these books are not seen on the shelves of libraries or public bookstores, the serious student can find many titles through specialized stores catering to the needs of magic performers.

Dragons – Columbus, Ohio – August 9, 2018
United States – Dragons – August 9, 2018

Four designs featuring dragons were issued on August 9, 2018, during the American Philatelic Society’s Stamp Show held August 9-12 in Columbus, Ohio. The self-adhesive pane of 16 stamps celebrates dragons, the high-flying, fire-breathing mythological creatures that have roamed our imaginations for millennia. Each of the stamps showcases one of four dragons:

  • A green fire-breathing dragon towering over a medieval–inspired castle;
  • A purple dragon with orange wings and sharp black armor on its back snaking around a white castle;
  • A black dragon with green wings and green armor on its back swooping past a ship on the sea; and
  • A wingless orange dragon weaving its way around a pagoda.

Each of the stamps and the header feature orange foiled highlights that add a fire-like glint. At the top of the pane, “Dragons” appears alongside a black fire-breathing dragon. The stamps are digital illustrations created by artist Don Clark of Invisible Creature studio, while Greg Breeding served as art director. These were offset printed with hot foil stamping by the Banknote Corporation of America using the Alprinta 74, Müeller-Martini Custom press. There were 30,000,000 stamps printed.

Fifteenth-century manuscript illustration of the battle of the Red and White Dragons from Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain
Fifteenth-century manuscript illustration of the battle of the Red and White Dragons from Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain

According to Wikipedia, a dragon is a large, serpent-like legendary creature that appears in the folklore of many cultures around the world. Beliefs about dragons vary drastically by region, but dragons in western cultures since the High Middle Ages have often been depicted as winged, horned, four-legged, and capable of breathing fire. Dragons in eastern cultures are usually depicted as wingless, four-legged, serpentine creatures with above-average intelligence.

The earliest attested dragons resemble giant snakes. Dragon-like creatures are first described in the mythologies of the ancient Near East and appear in ancient Mesopotamian art and literature. Stories about storm-gods slaying giant serpents occur throughout nearly all Indo-European and Near Eastern mythologies. Famous prototypical dragons include the mušḫuššu of ancient Mesopotamia, Apep in Egyptian mythology, Vṛtra in the Rigveda, the Leviathan in the Hebrew Bible, Python, Ladon, Wyvern, and the Lernaean Hydra in Greek mythology, Jörmungandr, Níðhöggr, and Fafnir in Norse mythology, and the dragon from Beowulf.

Manuscript illustration from Verona of Saint George slaying the dragon, dating to c. 1270

Manuscript illustration from Verona of Saint George slaying the dragon, dating to c. 1270

The popular western image of a dragon as winged, four-legged, and capable of breathing fire is an invention of the High Middle Ages based on a conflation of earlier dragons from different traditions. In western cultures, dragons are portrayed as monsters to be tamed or overcome, usually by saints or culture heroes, as in the popular legend of Saint George and the Dragon. They are often said to have ravenous appetites and to live in caves, where they hoard treasure. These dragons appear frequently in western fantasy literature, including The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien, the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling, and A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin.

Dragons first day of issue postmarks

The word “dragon” has also come to be applied to the Chinese lung (龍), which are associated with good fortune and are thought to have power over rain. Dragons and their associations with rain are the source of the Chinese customs of dragon dancing and dragon boat racing. Many East Asian deities and demigods have dragons as their personal mounts or companions. Dragons were also identified with the Emperor of China, who, during later Chinese imperial history, was the only one permitted to have dragons on his house, clothing, or personal articles.

U.S. Air Mail Centennial (red) – College Park, Maryland: August 11, 2018
United States – U.S. Airmail Centennial (red) – August 11, 2018
Airmail first day of issue postmarks

The United States Air Mail (red) stamp issued on August 11 was the second stamp issued in 2018 by the Postal Service to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the beginning of regular airmail service. The first stamp, issued in May and printed in blue, paid tribute to the pioneering spirit of the brave Army pilots who initiated the airmail service on May 15, 1918. This second stamp, identical to the first except that it is rendered in red, commemorates the beginning of airmail delivery through the U.S. Post Office Department on August 12, 1918. Both stamps were printed in intaglio and feature a drawing of the type of plane typically used in the early days of airmail, a Curtiss JN-4H biplane. The stamp design evokes that earlier period. The stamp designer and typographer was Dan Gretta, while Greg Breeding served as the art director. The stamps were printed by Ashton Potter (USA) Ltd. on a Stevens Vari-Size Security Press in self-adhesive panes of 20 with a total quantity of 20,000,000 stamps printed.

I covered the initial May 1918 flights in an article for my blog, A Stamp A Day, earlier this year.

Global Poinsettia – Kansas City, Missouri: August 26, 2018
United States – Global Poinsetta – August 26, 2018

Global Poinsettia is a new Global Forever international rate stamp that can be used to mail a 1-ounce letter to any country to which First-Class Mail International service is available. The stamp was released in Kansas City, Missouri, on August 26 and is the first Global Forever Holiday stamp issued since 2014. . These stamps can also be used domestically. At present, they would pay $1.15 in postage. A striking photograph of a poinsettia arranged against a white background graces this round holiday stamp. Taken from above, the photo captures the beauty of the green leaves, the red bracts, and the yellow flowers in the center of the plant. William J. Gicker was the art director and Greg Breeding designed the stamp with an existing photograph by Betsy Pettet. Offset printed by the Banknote Corporation of America using an Alprinta 74 press, 100,000,000 of the stamps have been printed in self-adhesive panes of 100.

The poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) is a plant species of the diverse spurge family (Euphorbiaceae) which is indigenous to Mexico. It is particularly well known for its red and green foliage and is widely used in Christmas floral displays. It derives its common English name from Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first United States Minister to Mexico, who introduced the plant to the U.S. in 1825.

Red Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima).
Red Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima).

The plant’s association with Christmas began in 16th-century Mexico, where legend tells of a girl, commonly called Pepita or Maria, who was too poor to provide a gift for the celebration of Jesus’ birthday and was inspired by an angel to gather weeds from the roadside and place them in front of the church altar. Crimson blossoms sprouted from the weeds and became poinsettias. From the 17th century, Franciscan friars in Mexico included the plants in their Christmas celebrations. The star-shaped leaf pattern is said to symbolize the Star of Bethlehem, and the red color represents the blood sacrifice through the crucifixion of Jesus.

Global Poinsettia first day of issue postmarks

Poinsettias are popular Christmas decorations in homes, churches, offices, and elsewhere across North America. They are available in large numbers from grocery, drug, and hardware stores. In the United States, December 12 is National Poinsettia Day.

 

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