In November, the United States Postal Service revealed the designs for 63 stamps slated for release in 2022. Of course, this doesn’t represent the complete USPS stamp programme for next year as they always hold off announcing several key issues such as the various holiday stamps usually issued in September and October.
For the first time in more than a few years, there wasn’t a single design that made me exclaim, “Wow!” when I saw it. By contrast, 2021 had several “Wow!” reactions for me, one of which was the set for Día de los Muertos, which is quite possibly my favorite U.S. issue of the past four or five years both in terms of subject matter and design execution. In my humble opinion, none of the 2022 designs announced thus far come anywhere close.
I do like the two multi-stamp photographic sets titled “National Marine Sanctuaries” and “Mighty Mississippi” but none of the graphics-based designs really excite me. The Women Cryptologists of World War II stamp actually looks unfinished, although I do understand the reasoning behind the design and applaud the theme. It is nowhere near as attractive as 2020’s stamp honoring Japanese-American Soldiers but makes me wonder if the USPS is planning to mark additional WWII personnel next year as well.
The various portrait stamps just seem like more of the same with the Black Heritage stamp fitting right in with the rest of the series which began in 1978. This does make for a nice set when viewed together although I wouldn’t mind some major differences. Similarly, the Katharine Graham and Pete Seeger stamps — while definitely worthwhile subjects — seem rather bland in appearance. I suppose it is difficult to render people on stamps to be more interesting. I do like the typography on the Pete Seeger issue but the image itself leaves something to be desired.
Other ho-hum designs appear on the issues intended to honor marine biologist Eugenie Clark as well as the 50th anniversary of Title IX, “the civil rights law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex in any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” I think that the black and white photographs of Clark and the lemon shark don’t fit well with the multicolored digital background elements on the former stamp while the latter just seems a bit underwhelming. I am not sure if many people seeing these designs will understand the significance of the laurels (symbolizing victory). I also feel that other school educational programs should have been included rather than all four stamps focusing on athletics.
I am always pleased when Native Americans are honored on United States stamps and more than a few have illustrated some of the wonderful art produced by them. George Morrison challenged prevailing ideas of what Native American art should be, arguing that an artist’s identity can exist independently from the nature of the art he creates. He is best known for his abstract landscapes and monumental wood collages. However, I feel that such art does not port well to stamps. A larger image is needed to truly appreciate these images but that is the same for all artwork reproduced on postage stamps, I suppose. With the exception of the work of master engraving (intaglio printing) so rarely seen on the photogravure stamps of today.
I am also not a big fan of the set of five stamps portraying American “pony cars”. According to Wikipedia, a “pony car is an American car classification for affordable, compact, highly styled coupés or convertibles with a “sporty” or performance-oriented image. Common characteristics include rear-wheel drive, a long hood, a short decklid, a wide range of options to individualize each car and use of mass-produced parts shared with other models.” Their popularity began with the 1964 introduction of the Ford Mustang. While I am not necessarily against the cars themselves, this is a topic that we have seen a plethora of stamps over the years and the designs all have a certain sameness to them. Of course, if this is your preferred topical then you will be in heaven. I believe the most recent similar issue was the four-stamp miniature sheet titled “Classic American Cars 1970-1980” issued by St. Pierre and Miquelon in August 2020.
I do like the design for the set of four stamps illustrating Women’s Rowing. According to the USPS announcement, “these stamps celebrate women’s rowing, a graceful but demanding sport in which American women have excelled, including in the Olympics. The artwork, which covers the entire pane, is a stylized illustration of five eight-person rowing teams competing or practicing. Four stamp designs are featured in a pane of 20 stamps arranged as five staggered rows of four.”
I was not exactly enamored with the new style of design for the Lunar New Year stamps when the current series first appeared in January 2020 (Year of the Rat). In time, they have grown on me with 2021’s Year of the Ox and, now, 2022’s Year of the Tiger stamps looking much, much better. This year’s offering is scheduled to be released on 20 January in New York City. The Lunar New Year begins on 1 February 2022.
Another graphical design that I quite like for 2022 is the one portraying a pair of elephants (mother and calf). Elephants on stamps is one of the topicals that I avidly collect (living in Thailand, we have our fair share of elephant stamps) and I look forward to adding this stamp to my collection. However, I am a bit confused as to why this subject was chosen for a standalone issue. I can think of quite a few North American animals that I would enjoy seeing on stamps of this same design including the American Bison, bald eagle, black bear, moose, snowshoe rabbit, etc.
Fruit on stamps is another popular topical and this year’s Blueberries issue looks particularly yummy. It will be the first U.S. stamp of 2022, scheduled to release on 9 January in Blue Hill, Maine in self-adhesive panes of 20 and self-adhesive coils of 3,000 and 10,000. This joins other previously released and similarly designed low-denomination stamps: 1-cent Apples, 2-cent Meyer Lemons, 3-cent Strawberries, 5-cent Grapes and 10-cent Pears.
There will not be a pictorial first day cancellation available for the Blueberries issue. First day covers will receive the traditional four-bar cancellation as depicted below:
The annual U.S. Flags stamp will also be released on 9 January at Findlay, Ohio, in panes of 20, booklets of 20, and coils of 100, 3,000 and 10,000. All of these items are self-adhesive. The stamp art is a painting of three flags in a circular formation, reminiscent of the 50 flags encircling the Washington Monument. The artist used three photographs of the same flag taken seconds apart as reference and stitched together the images into a single composition. I always love seeing flags on stamps and the U.S. ones evoke a sense of pride although I have not returned to the country in nearly 16 years.
First day cover collectors have a choice between a digital color postmark (DCP) or the standard four-bar first day of issue marking.
And, finally, we come to the flowers….
I do like flowers, really I do. But there are way too many stamps depicting them in my humble opinion. We see tons of flowers from many different countries’ stamps each and every year. And with the USPS announcement of 2022 stamp designs, I count ten stamps picturing flowers. There might be more on designs yet announced. Two of these are design continuations intended for use on wedding invitations. They are all “Forever” stamps, meaning that they will always be valid for the regular postage rate no matter what that rate is in the future. So, do they need to continue issuing similar designs each and every year? Not to mention the others that just seem random at this point. Again, nothing against flowers per se but by eliminating most of them would make room for additional (more interesting?) stamp subjects each year. Just my opinion…
The first 2022 stamps to include flowers as a central design element are the pair of Love stamps to be released on 14 January in Romeo, Michigan, in a self-adhesive pane of 20. According to the USPS, the stamps “celebrate the joy that flowers bring. Inspired by old European folk art, the stamps feature digital illustrations with similar designs: three round, stylized blooms ranging symmetrically along the top, with smaller round blossoms in each of the lower corners. The background color of one stamp is powder blue, and the other is coral. Twisting vines, which hold small multi-petaled flowers, form abstract heart shapes. The letters of the word “LOVE” are interspersed among the decorative vines.”
These are available with either a DCP or black pictorial first day of issue postmark:
Flowers will also be featured on a pair of “Butterfly Garden Flowers” stamps intended for bulk mailings by authorized nonprofit organizations featuring “flowers that butterflies love to visit: scabiosas and cosmos”; a block of four “Mountain Flora” issue (depicting a purple pasqueflower, an orange-red wood lily, a bright yellow alpine buttercup and a dark pink Woods’ rose); the “Sunflower Bouquet” two-ounce stamp “features an array of sunflowers, irises and other small flowers priced to accommodate the weight of heavy invitations, oversize greeting cards and other mailings that require extra postage”; and a single Tulips stamp which “features a luminous, almost ethereal assortment of overlapping tulips in red, orange, yellow, purple and white against a bright white background. Similar in design to the 2-ounce Sunflower Bouquet stamp, this stamp can be used on RSVP envelopes often enclosed with wedding invitations. In addition to regular correspondence, it is also perfect for party invitations, thank-you notes and important announcements.” I suppose the appeal of new wedding invitation stamps each year is that they include the very small year corresponding to the marriage date. These flower stamps are all attractive, I am just a bit tired of seeing them year after year.
There you have it: the 63 stamps announced thus far by the USPS for release in 2022 along with my honest opinions about the designs and topics. This is unusual for me as I usually do not like criticism of stamp designs and generally hold my thoughts to myself. But I was underwhelmed enough to want to share my feelings on these. What do you think? Do you have any favorites out of this batch of stamps? Are there any that you really don’t like? How about suggestions for topics that would have been “more worthy” to commemorate? Please let me know your opinions in the comments below.