Priority and Express Mail
Priority Mail offers fast domestic package delivery – usually 1-3 days. Express Mail is the fastest service, with guaranteed next day delivery to most destinations.
Due to a 15% rate increase, this stamp was issued to replace the $9.35 Express Mail of 1983. At the time, it was the most expensive stamp ever issued. Intended to cover the postage for the USPS Express Mail Next Day Service, it allowed users to drop Express Mail packages in collection boxes or give them to route carriers. Produced in booklet form, this issue was the first ever available to collectors and postal patrons as singles.
Issued to prepay postage for overnight Express Mail, this denomination covered the rate for an eight-ounce package. Like its predecessors, this stamp featured a bald eagle, but it also carried something new – the Olympic logo.
This stamp, the second Express Mail issue of 1991, was created for international use. The $14 denomination was the highest ever assigned to a U.S. stamp for general use. The eagle soaring inland across a rocky coastline was chosen to convey the idea of international mail.
Featuring a futuristic space shuttle speeding through space, this stamp was issued to replace the 1991 Eagle with Olympic rings Priority Mail stamp. Although space themes have always been popular, this stamp’s design drew a number of unfavorable comments from collectors and non-collectors alike.
This design is based on a photograph of the Space Shuttle Endeavor’s liftoff for the STS-57 mission. STS-57 marked the beginning of a new era in the commercial development of space, as the shuttle carried a privately developed experimentation module called SPACEHAB.
This $3.20 single self-adhesive stamp shows a photograph of the Space Shuttle touching down. It was issued to pay postage on priority mail delivery.
The $11.75 shuttle piggyback stamp was issued to pay the new half-pound rate for express mail delivery.
Unlike previous Priority and Express Mail issues, which featured pictures related to the U.S. space program, the 2001 stamps use photographic images of Washington, D.C., landmarks. The self-adhesive Priority Mail stamp shows the Capitol Dome gleaming against a dark sky. Looking at the stamp through a special U.S.P.S. decoder will reveal scrambled identifying marks saying, “Priority Mail.”
Patricia Fisher’s photograph of the Washington Monument over the Reflecting Pool is the basis for the self-adhesive Express Mail Stamp. Special marks that say, “Express Mail,” can be read on the stamp with the aid of a special U.S.P.S. decoder.
This Priority Mail stamp features the Jefferson Memorial. Thomas Jefferson’s signature can be seen at the lower left when viewed through a special decoder lens. This is the third stamp in the National Monuments sub-series.
The X-15 rocket plane appears on this Priority Mail stamp. The X-planes were experimental U.S. aircraft created to test the technology of supersonic and space flight. The X-1 was the first plane to break the sound barrier (1947).
This Express Mail stamp features a side view of the X-15 plane. Only three X-15 planes were built. They made 199 flights from 1959 to 1968. Thirteen of those flights exceeded 50 miles in altitude, the U.S. criterion for spaceflight. The pilots on those flights qualified as astronauts.
With the words “United States of America” and the presidential seal painted on its exterior, Air Force One is recognized throughout the world as a symbol of America. With up-to-date specialized equipment, the Boeing 747 serves as a flying White House.
Marine One always accompanies the President on his travels, whether within the United States or abroad. For security purposes, Marine One is flown in a group of identical helicopters which change formation in flight.
Congress approved the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Commission as of March 3, 1925. The Presidents memorialized on the mountain were selected to represent 150 years of American history. George Washington (“Father of our Country”), Thomas Jefferson (author of the Declaration of Independence), Teddy Roosevelt (opened the waters between the East and the West with the Panama Canal), and Abraham Lincoln (preserved the Union in one of our nation’s darkest times and brought equality to all) were selected for their profound impact on the shaping of America.
Construction on the Hoover Dam began on April 29, 1931, and was completed on March 1, 1936, more than two years early. The dam cost $49 million dollars to build and is 726.4 feet high, the second-highest dam in the U.S. At the time of its construction, it was the world’s largest electric power-producing facility and largest concrete structure. In 1931, it was named “Hoover Dam,” after Herbert Hoover, who was one of the dam’s early supporters.
Redwood forests are unique to the coastlines of California and Oregon. Heavy fog, rain and ideal temperatures allow the species to thrive, creating a lush paradise that supports a variety of flora and fauna. Thick vegetation and rugged terrain discouraged humans from traveling to the area until the California gold rush. Large hollowed-out redwood trees were named “goose pens” by early settlers, who used them to house poultry.
During the 1830s, legendary mountain man Jim Bridger returned from Wyoming’s remote Yellowstone region with fantastic tales. He claimed he had seen waterfalls that spouted upwards! Although few believed his story, later expeditions discovered one of America’s most breathtaking natural wonders – thousands of virgin acres dotted with geysers and teeming with wildlife.
The Mackinac Bridge towers 200 feet above the windswept waters of Lakes Huron and Michigan. “Mighty Mac” extends 5 miles across the Straits of Mackinac to link Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas.
Bixby Creek Bridge is one of the most recognizable landmarks in California. Spanning Rainbow Canyon, the bridge combines art, conservation, and function. Its beauty is matched only by the ocean waves crashing on the sandy shores below.
Built to spur economic growth in West Virginia’s isolated Appalachian Mountains, the New River Gorge Bridge has become the region’s star attraction. Thousands of people flock to the area each year, drawn by the spectacular steel-arch bridge and the recreational activities that have grown around it.
The four-mile-long Sunshine Skyway Bridge forms a stunning silhouette across Tampa Bay, making it a popular photo subject and setting for automobile commercials.
Visitors looking through the tunnel of Vermont’s Bridge on Arlington Green would see the one-time homestead of artist Norman Rockwell. The home was converted from a New England inn built in 1792, and is now a bed and breakfast.
Cornelius Vanderbilt amassed great wealth from the railroads. In 1867, he acquired the New York Central, which served much of the Northeast. When the railroad outgrew its New York City station, Grand Central Terminal was built, opening on February 2, 1913. More than a train station, it was a monument to the power of the railroad and a reflection of the classical Beaux-Arts style of the time.
Opened in 1964, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world when the city’s mayor cut the ribbon during the opening ceremonies. The 693-foot towers that hold up the cables and roadway are separated by more than 4,000 feet. The bridge was named for Giovanni da Verrazano, the first European to sail into New York Harbor and the Hudson River.
On the morning of December 7, 1941, the crew of the Arizona went about their daily duties. But shortly before 8:00 a.m., Japanese planes appeared overhead and began bombarding Pearl Harbor. Less than two hours later, the attack was over. The Arizona had been struck four times and had sunk. The ship lost 1,177 of its crew – about half the lives lost that day. The memorial was dedicated in 1962.
Located on the north coast of Puerto Rico, near the town of Arecibo, sits La Cueva del Indio, or the “Cave of the Indian.” The cave, which is more of a rock formation with daylight shining through, is full of ancient petroglyphs (rock carvings). These carvings were made by the Taíno Indians centuries ago. Many believe special ceremonies were held in and around the cave. The drawings in the rocks may have recorded these events.
With an estimated 20 million salmon passing over its falls each year, the Columbia River Gorge became one of the greatest fishing sites in North America. The river’s location made the area important for westward expansion. Lewis and Clark discovered the Columbia River was the “gateway to the Pacific” in 1805. The gorge was also a resting point on the Oregon Trail, and many weary pioneers settled in the region. Eventually, steamships and railroads made travel along the Columbia River Gorge safe and convenient.
Hawaii’s last reigning monarch, Queen Lili’uokalani, had a great love of her people. So when a garden was proposed to honor Hawaii’s early Japanese immigrants, she happily donated 30 acres of land to the project. Thanks to this gift, Lili’uokalani Gardens became the largest Edo-style garden outside of Japan.
In 1804, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark departed St. Louis, Missouri, to explore the West. This trip later inspired thousands of settlers to travel through St. Louis, giving it the nickname, “Gateway to the West.” In 1935, 82 acres were set aside to honor the impact of St. Louis on westward expansion, becoming the U.S.’s first National Historic Site.
Byodo-In Temple is part of Hawaii’s Valley of the Temples Memorial Park and is a smaller-scale concrete version of the wooden Byodo-in Temple in Uji, Japan. The replica in Hawaii was built to honor the centenary of the first Japanese immigrants to settle on the islands. It was dedicated in August 1968 and celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018.
The legend of the Sleeping Bear Dunes comes from the Chippewa people. In their tale, a giant fire raged on the western shore of Lake Michigan. To escape the blaze, a mother bear and her two cubs jumped into the lake and began to swim to safety on the opposite shore. The swim was too much for the cubs, who became tired and drowned. The mother bear reached the shore and waited on the bluffs, but her cubs never arrived. The Great Spirit was impressed by the mother bear’s faith and created two islands (North and South Manitou Islands) to honor the cubs. Over time, wind covered the mother in sand, where she still waits for her cubs.
Rising tall above the sand dunes in the American Southwest, Joshua trees are dominating figures with twisted branches and sharp, spiky leaves. Found in the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts, Joshua trees grow about three inches per year, which is fast for their climate. They are known to reach soaring heights, up to 49 feet. Unlike most trees, they do not have growth rings, so it is difficult to determine their age. Joshua trees can live for hundreds of years, but it is believed some have survived for a thousand. These trees were protected as part of a national monument in 1936 and were later upgraded to national park status in 1994.
Standing 26 feet tall, the Bethesda Fountain is one of the largest in New York City and was the only sculpture commissioned as part of Central Park’s original design. Its iconic statue is known as Angel of the Waters. It is an eight-foot-tall bronze angel holding a lily in one hand and blessing the waters with the other. Below the angel, four small cherubs represent health, purity, peace, and temperance. The statue’s symbolism is a reference to a gospel story of an angel blessing the Pool of Bethesda with healing abilities. The statue relates that tale to the opening of the Croton Aqueduct in 1842, which provided the city with clean water for the first time.
Big Bend National Park in southwest Texas is the largest protected area of Chihuahuan Desert habitat in the US. The Rio Grande River runs through the park and marks the boundary between the United States and Mexico. Big Bend National Park is home to over 1,200 species of plants, 450 species of birds, 56 species of reptiles, and 75 species of mammals. The park is also the location of many extraordinary archaeological sites dating back almost 10,000 years of human history. Fossil and dinosaur bones have also been found in the area. At night, the skies of Big Bend National Park boast billions and billions of stars. In fact, the National Park Service determined Big Bend has the darkest skies in the continental United States.
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is home to some of the most beautiful sights in the state. Rugged sandstone cliffs along the shoreline of Lake Superior are shaped by groundwater filtering through cracks in the rock. During winter, this water freezes and creates breathtaking displays called ice caves. There are many areas around the lake where ice caves can be found, but some of the most impressive are on Grand Island. To get inside a cave, visitors have to have a certain amount of luck. Due to the nature of the freeze-thaw cycle, entry points may have completely frozen over, making the interior of the caves inaccessible. With enough luck, visitors will be treated to stunning blue and white ice walls that you won’t find anywhere else.
The Castillo de San Marcos (St. Mark’s Castle) is the continental United States’ oldest masonry fort. It was designed by Spanish engineer Ignacio Daza and built on the western side of Matanzas Bay in St. Augustine, Florida. It took 23 years to construct and has stood for over 325 years since. It’s known for its masonry star shape and unusual coquina walls made of countless tiny shells held together by a special type of mineral. The Castillo de San Marcos is an enduring symbol of Spain’s part in US history.
Monument Valley is located on the Colorado Plateau, an area known for its huge sandstone buttes and red sand. It is most famous for its Mitten and Merrick Buttes, which featured in the background of several Hollywood blockbusters about the American West. Thousands of visitors travel to Monument Valley each year to take a tour through Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, the Navajo Nation equivalent of a national park. The harsh, yet beautiful landscape inspires countless photographers and artists to this day.
The Palace of Fine Arts was constructed during the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition and is the only such building still standing. It was designed by Bernard Maybeck and is a 162-foot-high open rotunda with a lagoon on one side and exhibition center on the other. It features impressive columns and archways and is a piece of architecture one might expect to see in a fantasy film. In fact, it has appeared in several movies over the years and continues to be used as a venue for important events, both public and private.
The Florida Everglades are one of the most famous natural areas of the southeastern United States. They begin near Orlando at the Kissimmee River, travel through Lake Okeechobee, and continue south before reaching the Florida Bay. The Everglades were designated a Wetland Area of Global Importance by UNESCO in the 1970s and have been part of extensive conservation efforts ever since. In total, the Everglades’ massive network of wetlands, forests, and rivers, are home to countless species, including 36 that are threatened or protected. This includes the Florida panther, American crocodile, and West Indian manatee. Of course, it’s also home to its most famous reptile, the American alligator.
The Great Smoky Mountains are located on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina and run from the Pigeon River to the Little Tennessee River. The range earned its name from the mist and fog that usually blankets the valleys and other lower elevations. This is due to the heavy annual rainfall the mountains receive and the relatively warm temperatures. Combined with sunrises and sunsets, the “smoke” makes for beautiful views visitors don’t soon forget. In fact, Great Smoky Mountains National Park hosts over 11 million visitors per year.