Love Series

The USPS introduced the Love series in 1973.  The Love stamps are usually issued in time for Valentine mailing and feature designs filled with “hearts, roses, swans, and more, celebrating every splendor of that many-splendored thing.”

US #1475
US #1475
Designed by American artist Robert Indiana, this stamp was issued for special occasion uses such as weddings or valentines. In keeping with its theme, it was released in Philadelphia, “The City of Brotherly Love.” It is the first issue in the popular “Love” series.

US #1951
US #1951
In response to public demand for a new “Love” stamp nine years later, this issue was designed by artist Mary Faulconer of New York City. Faulconer used flowers to give greater feeling to the love theme.
US #2072
US #2072
With each new year, the “LOVE” stamp grew in popularity. By the 1980s, it was issued in larger quantities and for a longer period of time than any other regular U.S. commemorative.
US #2143
US #2143

This colorful stamp was the first Love stamp to be released after Valentine’s Day. The U.S. Postal Service reasoned the stamps could be used all year. Artist Corita Kent created the design. The First Day of Issue ceremonies took place on the soundstage where the television show, “Love Boat,” was filmed.

US #2202
US #2202

1986’s stamp in the popular Love series features a bright-eyed, floppy tailed, cuddly puppy. It serves to remind us what cartoonist Charles Schultz wrote, “Happiness is a warm puppy.”

US #2248
US #2248
For the first time ever, the 1987 Love stamp – the sixth in the series – was issued in a size smaller than the large Love commemoratives of the past.
US #2378
US #2378
US #2379
US #2379

Love for 1988 was coming up roses! Two Love stamps were issued, a 25¢ stamp for letters weighing up to one ounce and a 45¢ stamp (below) for heavier wedding invitations and large greeting cards.

2440
US #2440 and #2441

This is the ninth issue of the Love Series. The love stamps were very popular for use on wedding invitations, Valentines, and other love-type letters. This design was produced in both sheet and booklet form in 1990.

US #2535
US #2535 and #2536

The 29¢ Love stamp for 1991 was exceptionally fitting – the Earth in the shape of a heart. With the Persian Gulf War foremost in the news, most Americans felt that “what the world needs now is love….” The stamp was once again issued in both sheet and booklet form.

US #2537
US #2537
The 52¢ two-ounce first-class rate Love stamp features a pair of brightly colored Fisher’s lovebirds, cuddling on a palm frond.
US #2618
US #2618

Unlike former Love stamps, this one was produced only in sheets. Since 1991 quantities could meet consumer demand, no booklets of the 1992 design were printed and no 52¢ stamps or envelopes bearing the Love logo were released. As usual, the stamp, featuring a heart in an envelope, was issued in time for Valentine’s Day.

US #2813
US #2813
US #2814
US #2814
US #2815
US #2815

Three new Love stamps were added to this popular series in 1994.  This “Heart Rising” stamp has a contemporary design, and has the distinction of being the first ever self-adhesive Love stamp.  Two of the 1994 issues feature Victorian-inspired visions of doves and roses.

US #2948-49 and #2957-59
US #2948-49, #2957-59 and #3030

The non-denominated (32-cent) Love stamp was actually printed before the 1995 rate change took effect. Postal authorities knew that the change would occur before the stamp was actually issued, but did not know exactly what the rate would be. So, in order to release a Love stamp on Valentine’s Day, this stamp was issued without a denomination. The 32-cent denominated version was issued later in the year, at the same time as the 55¢ variety.

US #2960
US #2960

This 55-cent denominated version was issued later in the year, at the same time as the 32¢ variety. The Love stamps were issued in sheets and booklets.

Terry McCaffey, manager of Stamp Development at the time, had been inspired by a postcard picturing two child angels from Raphael’s masterpiece, Sistine Madonna. McCaffey thought they would be perfect for Love stamps.

C. Douglas Lewis, a curator at the National Gallery of Art and vice chairman of the Citizen’s Stamp Advisory Committee warned that child angels, also known as putti, were associated with death, not love. Some art historians believe Raphael’s painting had been intended for the funeral of Pope Julius II, and that the child angels are resting on top of his coffin.

The stamps were issued regardless, and media coverage helped stir the controversy. One mother reportedly called to complain that the she had used the Love stamps on her daughter’s wedding invitations and that the event had been jinxed by the “death angel stamps.”

In spite of the controversy, the 1995 Love stamps were so popular that they weren’t replaced until 1997.

US #3123
US #3123

The 15th installment in the popular Love series, the Swans are the first stamps of the series that do not incorporate the word “love” in their design.

US #3274
US #3274
US #3275
US #3275

The first ever United States stamps cut to the shape of the images depicted are the 33-cent Love (U.S. #3274) and its 55-cent companion (U.S. #3275).  Victorian artifacts were used to create each stamp. The floral-heart design featured on both denominations was taken from a valentine greeting card decorated by an unknown German artist in 1895. The background of the 33-cent stamp was designed after a turn of the century American chocolate or biscuit paper-lace box liner. On the 55-cent stamp, the background was taken from an English paper lace valentine, circa 1885.

US #3496
US #3496-98
US #3499
US #3499
US #3551
US #3551
Long a symbol of devotion, a red rose lies across a handwritten love letter on this 2001 Love stamp. The letter on the non-denominated and on the 34¢ stamp is from Abigail Smith to John Adams, before their marriage and before he became the second President of the U.S. The second stamp has a similar design, but uses a letter from John to Abigail.  A rate change late in 2001 brought a reissue of the 55¢ Love design, with the new 57¢ rate displayed in green. Frequently separated, John and Abigail Adams stayed connected to one another through witty, newsy, passionate letters.
US #3657
US #3657
US #3658
US #3658

Love stamps are classified as “special” stamps. They are on sale longer than commemoratives, are usually printed in greater quantities, and may go back to press to meet demand.  The 60¢ stamp paid the two-ounce first-class rate, for mailing wedding invitations with reply cards and envelopes.

US #3833
US #3833
In 1866, Daniel Chase, brother of Oliver Chase – who founded the New England Confectionery Company (NECCO) – invented a process for printing sayings directly on candy. Love notes on the small NECCO hearts were very short, like “Be Mine,” “Marry Me,” and “Cutie Pie.” Candy hearts adorn the 2004 Love stamp.
US #3898
US #3898

In 2005, flowers take center stage on the 37¢-Love Series stamp. Artist Vivienne Flesher created the stamp design, using chalk pastels to draw a hand-held bouquet of vividly colored flowers.

US #3976
US #3976
The 2006 Love stamp, “True Blue,” features two blue birds, beak-to-beak, forming a heart between them.  Bluebirds represent happiness, as in the wish, “May the bluebird of happiness sit upon your shoulder.” Bluebirds also symbolize faithfulness, because they are “true blue.” In medieval Coventry, England, dyers used a blue dye that stayed fast and unfading. The phrase “true as Coventry blue” was eventually shortened to “true blue.”
US #4122
US #4122

The centennial anniversary of the chocolate kiss is commemorated on the 2007 Love stamp. A gift of this rich, melt-in-the-mouth candy has long carried messages of love between sweethearts.

US #4270
US #4270

The stylized heart shape is the universal symbol for passion and love.  There are many theories that seek to explain how the heart shape came to represent love.  One cites the use of the now-extinct silphium plant and the Greek city-state Cyrene in the seventh century B.C.  The silphium plant, which had heart-shaped seeds, was said to be an effective method of birth control.

US #4404-05
US #4404-05

The 2009 King and Queen of Hearts stamps represent the first se-tenant issues in the Love series.  The King and Queen of Hearts poem was inspired by England’s King George, who suffered from porphyria, a crippling disorder that is often accompanied by seizures, hallucinations, and paranoia.  Little was known of the illness at the time, and George’s increasingly erratic behavior caused 18th-century tongues to wag.  Charles Lamb, who secretly battled mental illness himself, published The King and Queen of Hearts in 1805.  Written in the style of a children’s nursery rhyme, the poem was actually a political satire mocking King George and his queen, Charlotte.

US #4450
US #4450

The pansy has long been associated with love. The name comes from the French word pensée, or thought, and was so named because the flower resembled a human face. In many cultures around the world, the pansy has been believed to inspire thoughts of a loved one – and even heal a broken heart.

US #4531-40
US #4531-40

This sheet of 10 face-different Love stamps represents another first for the series.

US #4626
US #4626

“Around her neck she wore a yellow ribbon…”  The words from this 400-year-old song tell the story of a man who goes away and gives his sweetheart a ribbon to wear.   In those days, ribbons were a sign of commitment.  Women wore them in their hair or around their neck as a promise to wait for the return of their beloved.  Knights carried their true love’s ribbons into battle, tucked safely in their armor.

US #4741
US #4741
In the Victorian Era (1837 to 1901), letter writing was more than a means of communication. It was an art form and many books were published detailing the proper etiquette – from tone, to the color of the sealing wax, to the placement of stamps.  Many of these early guides cautioned against saying too much, yet also suggested writing with absolute feeling. Men were warned against complimenting their mates too much, as it would appear insincere. Likewise, women were expected to write in a guarded manner. Rather than closing a letter with, “love,” they often wrote simply, “ever your friend.”
U.S. #4847

The ancient Chinese conceived the art of cutting paper in lace-like patterns.  The practice spread across Asia and Europe, and was eventually brought to the United States by German immigrants settling in Pennsylvania.  Paper cutting, also known as scherenschnitte, was closely related to milestones in the Pennsylvania Dutch community, including birth, marriage, and death.  Perhaps it was seen most often in courtship, as witnessed in romantic Valentines from the era.

U.S. #4955-56

The heart has been a symbol of love since before the days of Ancient Greece.  Before the first millennium, the Roman poet Virgil coined the phrase “amorvincitomnia” – “love conquers all.” It is a sentiment often repeated in literature and romantic philosophy. Even in the real world, stories of sacrifice and devotion lift the spirits.  This stamp reminds people that true love can last forever.

 

U.S. #5036

Paper filigree, or quilling, is a centuries-old art technique which replaces paint, pencil, and clay with paper.  Thin, colorful strips of paper are curled, crimped, bent, and glued to form beautiful and intricate three-dimensional designs.  An art once reserved for upper-class ladies of leisure, quilling is now enjoyed by people of all walks of life.

US #5155
Love Skywriting

Skywriting has been amazing people with its beauty and mystery since the early 1900s.  It was first used by British Royal Air Force pilots to send messages to the ground when other communications failed.  It then became an advertising tool for companies like Pepsi.  In more recent years, people have hired skywriters to write personal messages to loved ones.

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