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2016 U.S. National Parks Stamp Pane


The U.S. Postal Service previewed its stunning pane of 16 National Parks Forever stamps April 28, 2016 in this collection that celebrates the National Park Service on its 100th anniversary.

The June 2 first-day-of-issue ceremony will take place at New York City's Jacob Javits Center as part of World Stamp Show-NY 2016, the world's largest stamp show that takes place in the United States once a decade. Dedication ceremonies will also take place at or near each of the national parks associated with the stamps. World Stamp Show-NY 2016 will take place May 28 - June 4, 2016


(above: National Parks Stamp Pane, © 2016 USPS)

Designing the National Parks Stamp Pane

The National Park System consists of more than 400 park sites. The stamp pane, designed by Ethel Kessler of Bethesda, MD, includes 16 stamp images featuring existing art or photography representing the regional diversity of the National Park System. All stamps show national parks or plants, animals, artwork, objects and structures found in or associated with a national park. Small type on the margin of each stamp indicates the park's location.

Kessler, an Art Director for the United States Postal Service, arranged the stamps to approximate their locations around America:  Alaska's Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve on the upper left; Maine's Acadia National Park on the upper right; Hawaii's Haleakala National Park on the bottom left; and Florida's and Mississippi's Gulf Islands National Seashore on the bottom right.


Top Row

The top row includes four stamps. The first features a photograph by Tom Bean of Flagstaff, AZ, of Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Alaska. . Covering 3.3 million acres of rugged mountains, dynamic glaciers, temperate forests, wild coastlines and deep sheltered fjords, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is a highlight of Alaska's Inside Passage and part of a 25-million acre World Heritage Site - one of the world's largest international protected areas. From sea to summit, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve offers limitless opportunities for adventure and inspiration.

The second features a photograph by Matt Dieterich of Pittsburgh, PA, of Mount Rainier National Park in Washington State. "This night was one I will never forget," said Dieterich, who worked at Mount Rainier as an intern with the National Park Service Geoscientist-in-the-Parks to educate the public on dramatic views of the stars and the effect of light pollution near highly populated areas. "After working with visitors at the Mount Rainier astronomy program on June 22, 2015, I noticed there was an aurora, so I drove down to Reflection Lake to capture it." "The location was perfect as it contained a view of Mount Rainier and water for reflections," he continued. "To create this star trails image I took 200 photos in a two-hour window between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. with my Nikon D750 and 24mm lens set at F/1.4 and ISO 5000. Since the Earth is rotating, each 8-sec. exposure shows stars at slightly different locations. When the photos are combined into one image the stars create a circular pattern around the North Star, which is just out of view at the top of the image. The pink aurora spread throughout the background sky. Mountaineers can be seen with their white headlamps climbing Mount Rainier on the right side of the volcano." "To capture star trails photos just like this," he added, "all you need is a digital single lens reflex camera, a wide angle lens, tripod and shutter release cable. So what are you waiting for? Grab your gear and get out under the stars!"

The third shows a detail from the oil-on-canvas painting "Scenery in the Grand Tetons" by Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902), currently held at Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park in Vermont. "This stamp exemplifies how our national park treasures extend beyond stunning vistas, wildlife, flora and fauna," said Stephanie Toothman, Associate Director, Cultural Resources, Partnerships, and Science, National Park Service. "Albert Bierstadt's painting represents the convergence of artistic, literary and political attention toward America's scenic beauty in the 19th century, which helped establish conservation as a national value and laid the foundation for the first national parks a century ago." The stamp image is a detail of Bierstadt's (1830-1902) 29-by-43-inch oil-on-canvas painting "Scenery in the Grand Tetons." The permanent home of the painting is Laurance Rockefeller's study in the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller Mansion. According to the National Park Service, Rockefeller acquired the painting in the 1960s and added it to the collection of the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller Mansion as "a reminder of his family's long loyalty to Grand Teton National Park, and the preservation of the mountains, lake and valley in that spectacularly beautiful and dramatic part of the West."  


(above: Scenery in the Grand Tetons [detail], Albert Bierstadt, Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, MABI 2843. © 2016 USPS)


The fourth is a photograph by David Muench of Goleta, CA, of Bass Harbor Head Light at Acadia National Park in Maine. People have been drawn to the rugged coast of Maine throughout history. Awed by its beauty and diversity, early 20th-century visionaries donated the land that became Acadia National Park. The park is home to many plants and animals, and the tallest mountain on the U.S. Atlantic coast. Today visitors come to Acadia to hike granite peaks, bike historic carriage roads, or relax and enjoy the scenery.


Second Row

The second row from the top includes two stamps, one on either side of the central selvage image. The stamp on the left features a detail of a chromolithograph-on-canvas, "The Grand Canyon of Arizona, from Hermit Rim Road" by artist Thomas Moran (1837-1926) from the collection of Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. Unique combinations of geologic color and erosional forms decorate a canyon that is 277 river miles long, up to 18 miles wide and one mile deep.

(above: The Grand Canyon of Arizona, from Hermit Rim Road [detail], Thomas Moran, Grand Canyon National Park, GRCA 134696. © 2016 USPS)


The stamp on the right features a photograph by Tim Fitzharris of Fayetteville, AR, of wild horses at Assateague Island National Seashore, located in Maryland and Virginia. This barrier island is a tale of constant movement and change. Explore sandy beaches, salt marshes, maritime forests and coastal bays. Bands of wild horses freely roam amongst plants and native animals that have adapted to a life of sand, salt and wind


Third Row

The third row from the top includes four stamps, two on either side of the central selvage image. The first stamp on the left features a detail of a photograph by Tim Campbell of Balclutha, a ship at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. Just visible to the right of the deep waterman/salmon packet sailing vessel is the 1907 steam tugboat Hercules. Located near the Fisherman's Wharf neighborhood, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park offers the sights, sounds, smells and stories of Pacific Coast maritime history through five National Historic Landmark vessels berthed here.

The second stamp on the left shows a photograph by Tom Till of Moab, UT, and represents the iconic Delicate Arch. Delicate Arch is just one of more than 2,000 stone arches in a park that contains the greatest density of natural arches in the world. The park is a landscape of contrasting colors, landforms and textures with thousands of natural stone arches, hundreds of soaring pinnacles, massive fins and giant balanced rocks.

The first stamp on the right features a photograph by QT Luong of San Jose, CA, of Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. The photograph was taken in July 2013, capturing the image in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the course of his 20-year project to photograph 59 national parks.

The second stamp on the right, taken at Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens in Washington, DC, was photographed by Cindy Dyer of Alexandria, VA, who also provided the images from Kenilworth for the Water Lilies Forever Stamps issued last year. The Sacred Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera), is the star attraction at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens during its blooming period from late June to early September.


Fourth Row

The fourth row from the top includes two stamps, one on either side of the central selvage image. The stamp on the left features a 1935-1936 pastel-on-paper depiction by Helmuth Naumer, Sr. (1907-1990) of the Revival-style visitor center at Frijoles Canyon at Bandelier National Monumentin New Mexico. Bandelier National Monument protects over 33,000 acres of rugged, beautiful canyon and mesa country as well as evidence of a human presence here going back more than 11,000 years. Petroglyphs, dwellings carved into the soft rock cliffs, and standing masonry walls pay tribute to the early days of a culture that still survives in the surrounding communities.


(above: Administration Building, Frijoles Canyon, Helmuth Naumer Sr., Bandelier National Monument, BAND 1409. © 2016 USPS)


The stamp on the right features a photograph by Paul Marcellini of Miami, FL, of Everglades National Park in Florida. Spanning the south Florida peninsula from Miami to Naples and south to the Florida Keys, Everglades National Park's 1.5 million acres of sawgrass prairies, tropical hardwood hammocks, pine rocklands, mangrove forests and marine and estuarine waters provide habitat for a wildlife spectacle like no other. Crocodiles, alligators, manatees, flamingos, herons and turtles are just a small sampling of wildlife that can be seen here.


Fifth Row

The fifth and bottom row of the pane includes four stamps. The first features a photograph by Kevin Ebi who lives near Seattle, WA, of Haleakala National Park in Hawaii. Please click here to read his narrative of capturing the image:

The second shows a photograph by Art Wolfe of Seattle, WA, of bison at Yellowstone National Park, located in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. He described the scene as "perfectly backlit bison standing on a small rise in Yellowstone's Lamar Valley." "Rising at dawn and braving the -30°F temperature I was able to catch the first rays of the morning sun," he explained. "The bitter cold of a long winter's night had left the animals encased in a mantle of thick frost. I had scouted the area the day before and had seen the herd of bison. They had bedded down there all night and now were standing and trying to shake off the cold as the sun came over the horizon. These are the serendipitous moments I wait for as a photographer. I shot this in the days of film, so I didn't know until I got back to Seattle and had the film processed if I had been successful or not." Wolfe got the February 2000 shot using a Canon EOS-3, EF70-200mm lens set at f/16 for 1/250 sec. using Fujichrome Velvia film.

The third stamp shows a photograph by Richard McGuire of the interior of Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico.. High ancient sea ledges, deep rocky canyons, flowering cacti and desert wildlife are all treasures above and below the Chihuahuan Desert ground. Carlsbad Cavern is one of more than 300 limestone caves in a fossil reef laid down by an inland sea 240 million to 280 million years ago.

The fourth stamp features a photograph by John Funderburk of Hernando, FL, of a heron at Gulf Islands National Seashore, located in Florida and Mississippi.


Center Image

The image in the center is a detail of artwork from the 1-cent Yosemite stamp issued in 1934, rendered here in light brown. Text superimposed over the center image reads: "Our national parks tell distinctly American stories. Whether they inspire you to marvel at grand vistas, travel along scenic waterways and winding paths, or visit historic buildings and homes, discovery and exploration await." A banner across the top of the pane reads "NATIONAL PARKS."


Text on the back of the stamp pane (verso text)

In the 100 years since its creation in 1916, the National Park Service has been the steward of an ongoing story that every American continues to write.
Our first national park -- as well as the world's -- was established with the creation of Yellowstone in 1872, and Americans have long envisioned parks as places of wild wonders and breathtaking views. Those "crown jewels" will always be iconic American landscapes, but our park system is now even more remarkable for its breadth. Parkways, monuments, seashores, scenic rivers, urban parks, recreation areas, historic buildings and homes -- our park system encompasses all of these and more. Parks also offer American history on a human scale, interpreting and making accessible such complex events as the Civil War and the civil rights movement, and they preserve irreplaceable resources for future study and enjoyment, from ancient fossils and fragile ecosystems to an amazing array of artifacts and art. 
Each year, millions of people seek out the more than 400 sites in the national park system, where they find endless opportunities for adventure, education, and fun. With the enthusiastic support of visitors, our parks will continue to delight and inspire all Americans and impart a profound legacy for generations to come.
Four of the images on these stamps were provided by the National Park Service and represent just a glimpse of their priceless holdings. The oil-on-canvas painting Scenery in the Grand Tetons by Albert Bierstadt (detail; first row, second from right) is in the collection of Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park. The chromolithograph-on-canvas Grand Canyon of Arizona, from Hermit Rim Road by Thomas Moran (detail; second row, left) is in the collection of Grand Canyon National Park. The three-masted, steel-hulled, square-rigged Balclutha (third row, first from left) is a familiar sight at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. The pastel-on-paper Administration Building, Frijoles Canyon (fourth row, left) by Helmuth Naumer Sr., is in the collection of Bandelier National Monument. The image at the center is a detail of the 1-cent Yosemite stamp issued in 1934, rendered here in light brown. The other images on these stamps are the work of independent photographers -- evidence of the vast artistic inspiration our national parks can provide.


About Ethel Kessler

Ethel Kessler is an award-winning designer and art director with more than 25 years of experience working with corporations, museums, public and private institutions, and professional service organizations.

Kessler designed educational materials for the U.S. Postal Service and in January 1997, she was appointed design consultant to USPS for the creation of commemorative postal stamps.

In 1981, Kessler established two design businesses, Ethel Kessler Design, Inc., and Kessler Design Group Ltd., for which she is creative director and designer. Clients have included the Clinton/Gore White House; the Smithsonian Institution; various art publishers; National Geographic Television; the National Park Service; and the American Institute of Architects.

After earning a BFA in Visual Communications from the Maryland Institute College of Art, Kessler worked as a graphic designer for an architectural and planning firm. She then became graphic designer and exhibits project manager for the exhibits division of the United States Information Agency.


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