Black Heritage Series — August Wilson

Release Date:  28 January 2021

Issue City:  Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15290


United States: Black Heritage - August Wilson, 28 January 2021 


Issue: August Wilson Stamp
Item Number: 480000
Denomination & Type of Issue: First-Class Mail Forever
Format: Pane of 20 (1 design)
Series: Black Heritage
Issue Date & City: January 28, 2021, Pittsburgh, PA 15290
Art Director: Ethel Kessler, Bethesda, MD
Designer: Ethel Kessler, Bethesda, MD
Artist: Tim O’Brien, Brooklyn, NY
Modeler: Joseph Sheeran
Manufacturing Process: Offset, Microprint
Printer: Ashton Potter (USA) Ltd. (APU)
Press Type: Muller A76
Stamps per Pane: 20
Print Quantity: 45,000,000 stamps
Paper Type: Nonphosphored Type III, Block Tag
Adhesive Type: Pressure-sensitive
Colors: Black, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, PMS 4029 C Beige
Stamp Orientation: Vertical
Image Area (w x h): 0.84 x 1.42 in./21.336 x 36.068 mm
Overall size (w x h): 0.98 x 1.56 in./24.892 x 39.624 mm
Full Pane Size (w x h): 6.00 x 8.50 in./152.40 x 215.90 mm
Press Sheet Size (w x h): 12.00 x 25.75 in./ 304.80 x 654.05 mm
Plate Size: 240 stamps per revolution
Plate Number: “P” followed by five (5) single digits in two corners
Marginal Markings:
Front: Header: BLACK HERITAGE, Celebrating August Wilson, 44TH IN A SERIES
Plate number in two (2) corners
Back: ©2020 USPS • USPS Logo • Two barcodes (480000) • Plate position diagram (6) • Promotional text

Full Sheet of 20 Stamps

United States; Black Heritage - August Wilson, 24 January 2021 (full sheet of 20 stamps)






First Day Cover (pictorial postmark)

United States: Black Heritage - August Wilson (first day cover, pictorial postmark)







First Day Cover (digital color postmark)  

United States: Black Heritage - August Wilson (first day cover, digital color postmark)








Digital Color and Pictorial Postmarks  










On January 28, 2021, in Pittsburgh, PA, the United States Postal Service® will issue the August Wilson stamp (Forever® priced at the First-Class Mail® rate) in one design, in a pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA) pane of 20 stamps (Item 480000). This stamp will go on sale nationwide January 28, 2021, and must not be sold or canceled before the first-day-of-issue.

The 44th stamp in the Black Heritage® series honors playwright August Wilson (1945–2005), who brought fresh perspectives and previously unheard voices to the American stage. This stamp features an oil painting of Wilson based on a 2005 photograph. Behind Wilson, a picket fence alludes to the title of Fences, one of his best-known plays. Art director Ethel Kessler designed the stamp with art by Tim O’Brien.

Availability to Post Offices: Item 480000, August Wilson (Forever Priced at the First-Class Mail Rate) Commemorative PSA Pane of 20 Stamps

Stamp Fulfillment Services will make an automatic push distribution to Post Offices of a quantity to cover approximately 30 days of sales. Distribution quantities for the automatic push distribution will be available by logging on to SFS Web at sfsweb.usps.gov. Post Offices may begin ordering stamps on the first-day-of-issue through SFS Web; offices must also check the amount they will receive on their automatic push distribution.

Special Dedication Postmarks

Only the following pictorial postmark is permitted for the August Wilson stamp. The word “Station” or the abbreviation “STA” is required somewhere in the design because it will be a temporary station. Use of any image other than the following special pictorial image is prohibited.

Guidelines for Finalizing the August Wilson Stamp Pictorial Postmark Art

To finalize the August Wilson stamp pictorial postmark art, insert the date, city, state, and ZIP Code™ of the physical location of your event adjacent to the stamp image. Overall dimensions of the pictorial postmark must not exceed 4 inches (horizontally) by 2 inches (vertically). Collectors prefer the dimensions 3-1/2 inches by 1 inch.

The Postal Service™ must make all special postmarks known to collectors through advance publicity in the Postal Bulletin. Therefore, all special dedication cancellations must be reported to Stamp Services 4 weeks before the event using PS Form 413, Pictorial Postmark Announcement/Report. To get a copy of the form, go to blue.usps.gov/formmgmt/forms/ps413.pdf.

How to Order the First-Day-of-Issue Postmark

Customers have 120 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 usps.com/shop. They must affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes (to themselves or others), and place them in a larger envelope addressed to:

FDOI – August Wilson Stamp
USPS Stamp Fulfillment Services
8300 NE Underground Drive, Suite 300
Kansas City, MO 64144-9900

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 up to a quantity of 50. There is a 5-cent charge for each additional postmark over 50. All orders must be postmarked by May 28, 2021.

How to Order First-Day Covers

The Postal Service 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 USA Philatelic catalog and online at usps.com/shop. Customers may register to receive a free USA Philatelic catalog online at usps.com/philatelic .

Locally produced items are not authorized. Only merchandise that has been approved and assigned an item number by Headquarters Retail Marketing may be produced and sold.

— Stamp Services, Marketing, 12-31-20

August Wilson

August Wilson (April 27, 1945 – October 2, 2005) was an American playwright. He has been referred to as the “theater’s poet of black America”. He is best known for a series of ten plays collectively called The Pittsburgh Cycle, which chronicle the experiences and heritage of the African-American community in the 20th century. Plays in the series include, Jitney (1982), Fences (1984), Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (1984), Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (1986), The Piano Lesson (1987), King Hedley II (1999). Two of his plays received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and two of his other works won the Tony Award for Best Play. In 2006 Wilson was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame.

His works delve into the African American experience as well as examinations of the human condition. Other themes have ranged from the systemic and historical exploitation of African Americans, as well as race relations, identity, migration, and racial discrimination. His work has drawn several iconic performances onstage from James Earl Jones, Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Angela Bassett, Laurence Fishburne, and Samuel L. Jackson. Davis described Wilson’s writing by saying, “He captures our humor, our vulnerabilities, our tragedies, our trauma. And he humanizes us. And he allows us to talk.” Since Wilson’s death two of his plays have been adapted into films, Fences (2016), and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020). Denzel Washington has shepherded the films and has vowed to continue his legacy by adapting the rest of his plays into films for a wider audience by saying, “The greatest part of what’s left of my career is making sure that August is taken care of”.

While the work of August Wilson is not formally recognized within the literary canon of the Black Arts Movement, he was certainly a product of its mission, helping to co-found the Black Horizon Theatre in his hometown of Pittsburgh in 1968. Situated in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, a historically and predominantly Black neighborhood, the Black Horizon Theatre became a cultural hub of Black creativity and community building. As a playwright of what is considered the Post–Black Arts Movement, August Wilson inherited the spirit of BAM, producing plays that celebrated the history and poetic sensibilities of Black people. His iconic Century Cycle successfully tracked and synthesized the experiences of Black America in the 20th Century, using each historical decade, from 1904 to 1997, to document the physical, emotional, mental, and political strivings of Black life in the wake of emancipation.



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