At 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time today — September 7, 2018 — the United States Postal Service will hold a dedication ceremony at the Namburg Bandshell in New York City’s Central Park in order to officially unveil its newest entry in the Music Icons series, a set of four stamps utilizing the same design in different colors depicting singer and songwriter John Lennon. The event will be officiated by U.S. Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan. “Beloved around the world, Lennon was successful both as a founding member of the Beatles and as a solo artist. Lennon’s music continues to speak for truth, peace, and tolerance,” the Postal Service said in a press release on July 11.

The September 7 release date fits with the design of the stamp and “Imagine,” the song he wrote and the album by that name, which was issued on September 9, 1971. The stamp features a photograph of John Lennon taken by rock-and-roll photographer Bob Gruen in August 1974 during the photo session for Lennon‘s 1974 album Walls and Bridges. The original black-and-white photograph has been treated in gradations of color.

United States--John Lennon--September 7, 2018
United States–John Lennon–September 7, 2018
United States–John Lennon–September 7, 2018 full pane

The self-adhesive stamp pane is designed to resemble a vintage 45 rpm record sleeve. One side of the pane includes 16 non-denominated (50-cent) Forever stamps and brief text about Lennon’s legacy as well as the image of a sliver of a record seeming to peek out the top of the sleeve. A black-and-white photograph of Lennon seated at his white piano appears on the reverse, along with Lennon‘s signature and the Music Icons series logo. Taken by photographer Peter Fordham, the original photograph was used to promote Lennon‘s landmark 1971 solo album, Imagine. Art director Antonio Alcalá worked on the stamp pane with designer Neal Ashby.

The stamps were offset printed by the Banknote Corporation of America in Browns Summit, North Carolina, using the Alprinta 74 press in a total quantity of 40,000,000 stamps. The print run was made using the colors Cool Gray 7, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black on phosphor, block tagged, paper with pressure sensitive adhesive. The plate consisted of 96 stamps per revolution. They have an overall size measuring  1.225 x 1.225 inches (31.115 x 31.115 mm) while each individual pane measures 7 x 7 inches (177.8 x 177.8 mm).

Official USPS first day of issue postmarks for the John Lennon stamps, September 7, 2018
Only authorized design for pictorial postmarks used in conjunction to the 2018 U.S. John Lennon stamp

In addition to the official USPS first day of issue postmarks (standard black & white and digital color cancellations), only one pictorial cancellation has been authorized for the John Lennon stamps. The word “Station” or the abbreviation “STA” is required somewhere in the design, because these will be temporary stations.

John Winston Ono Lennon was an English singer, songwriter, and peace activist who co-founded the Beatles, the most commercially successful band in the history of popular music. He and fellow member Paul McCartney formed a much-celebrated songwriting partnership. Along with George Harrison and Ringo Starr, the group would ascend to worldwide fame during the 1960s.

John Lennon performing on June 5, 1964
John Lennon, as pictured in an advertisement for Imagine from Billboard magazine's September 18, 1971, issue (page 36). Photo taken by Peter Fordham.
John Lennon, as pictured in an advertisement for Imagine from Billboard magazine’s September 18, 1971, issue (page 36). Photo taken by Peter Fordham.

He was born as John Winston Lennon on October 9, 1940, in Liverpool, where he became involved in the skiffle craze as a teenager. In 1957, he formed his first band, the Quarrymen, which evolved into the Beatles in 1960. Lennon began to record as a solo artist before the band’s break-up in April 1970; two of those songs were “Give Peace a Chance” and “Instant Karma!” Lennon subsequently produced albums that included John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band and Imagine, and songs such as “Working Class Hero”, “Imagine” and “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”. After he married Yoko Ono in 1969, he added “Ono” as one of his middle names. Lennon disengaged himself from the music business in 1975 to raise his infant son Sean, but re-emerged with Ono in 1980 with the album Double Fantasy. He was shot and killed in the archway of his Manhattan apartment building on December 8, 1980, three weeks after the album was released.

Strawberry Fields in Central Park, New York City, with The Dakota in the background. Photo taken on December 27, 2013.
Strawberry Fields in Central Park, New York City, with The Dakota in the background. Photo taken on December 27, 2013.
John Lennon collected stamps as a young boy. The Smithsonian's National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C. obtained his childhood stamp collection in 2005. Photo taken on September 17, 2016.
John Lennon collected stamps as a young boy. The Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C. obtained his childhood stamp collection in 2005. Photo taken on September 17, 2016.

Lennon revealed a rebellious nature and acerbic wit in his music, writing, drawings, on film and in interviews. Controversial through his political and peace activism, he moved from London to Manhattan in 1971, where his criticism of the Vietnam War resulted in a lengthy attempt by the Nixon administration to deport him. Some of his songs were adopted as anthems by the anti-war movement and the larger counterculture.

By 2012, Lennon’s solo album sales in the United States had exceeded 14 million units. He had 25 number-one singles on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart as a writer, co-writer, or performer. In 2002, Lennon was voted eighth in a BBC poll of the 100 Greatest Britons and in 2008, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him the fifth-greatest singer of all time. In 1987, he was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Lennon was twice posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: first in 1988 as a member of the Beatles and again in 1994 as a solo artist.

United States–John Lennon–September 7, 2018 strip of five from USPS Postal Bulletin

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