The U.S. Postal Service, in one of its party moods, has issued a new "Happy Birthday" stamp for use on cards and packages, thus adding a festive touch to the mailing.
As did the two previous "Happy Birthday" stamps that were issued in Special Occasion booklets in 1987 and 1988, the 2002 stamp recognizes the tradition of sending special birthday greetings.
The new stamp will be released Feb. 8 in conjunction with the American Philatelic Society's "AmeriStamp Expo Winter Show" in Riverside, Calif. Harry Zelenko of New York City designed the stamp.
The best way to obtain first-day official postmarks of the "Happy Birthday" stamp is by calling (800) STAMP-24, toll-free. The USPS also will provide a comprehensive catalog. In addition you can visit the Postal Store at www.usps.com.
A common question from young stamp collectors: "What kinds of stamps does the Postal Service issue?"
There are a number of different types of stamps. There are definitives, commemoratives, specials, sheet stamps, booklet stamps, and coil stamps.
Definitive stamps (also called regular issues) are the most common type. They feature everything from statesmen to animals and from the American flag to historical vehicles.
Commemoratives honor or commemorate important people, events or subjects.
Specials include such issues as Christmas stamps and Love stamps.