1633-82 - 1976 13¢ State Flags
US #1633-82 was issued on this day in 1976.

On February 23, 1976, the USPS issued its first 50-stamp se-tenant.

Up until the 1960s, when the US produced stamps, all the stamps on a sheet usually had the same design. They first strayed from this format in 1964 when the US Post Office issued its first-ever se-tenant.

Se-tenant is a French phrase meaning “joined together.” When referring to stamps, se-tenants are blocks of stamps that are printed on the same sheet with different designs. The first US se-tenant was the Christmas issue of 1964, which included four different stamps. The format proved popular, and in the coming years, the post office continued to issue stamps in this format.

1976 13¢ State Flags First Day Covers
US #1633-82 – Get a complete set of 50 State Flag First Day Covers.

In the early 1970s, the US was preparing to celebrate the bicentennial. All over the country, homes and businesses were decked out in red, white, and blue. Small towns and big cities held parades and festivities to mark the occasion. The USPS was also working on an extensive series of Bicentennial stamps honoring battles, heroes, and other topics relating to the era.

One of the most popular issues in the Bicentennial Series was the State Flags se-tenant. Issued on February 23, 1976, it was the first US se-tenant to include 50 different stamps. It features the designs of every US state flag and each stamp includes the Bicentennial logo. The stamps were arranged on the sheet in the same order the states were admitted into the Union. It’s interesting to note that some states would change their flags by the time they were featured on stamps again in the 2008-2012 Flags of Our Nation Series (which you can view and read about here).

1953-2002 - 1982 20¢ State Birds and Flowers
US #1953-2002 was America’s 2nd 50-stamp se-ten, issued in 1982.

In 1978, Fleetwood hired father-son wildlife artists Arthur and Alan Singer to create 50 original paintings of state birds and flowers for a set of Fleetwood First Day Covers. When USPS officials saw the high-quality paintings, they immediately decided to issue a 50-stamp se-tenant showcasing the father-son team’s watercolor paintings.

The Singers labored for over a year on this beautiful philatelic masterpiece. Arthur created the birds, while son Alan painted the flowers. Each stamp is unique – making it the first series of its size to feature original artwork for each different stamp. North Carolina and Virginia share both their state flower (flowering dogwood) and their state bird (cardinal), yet each state is represented by an original watercolor painting. These were America’s most popular stamps for several years.

2286-2335 - 1987 22¢ North American Wildlife
US #2286-2335 was the third 50-stamp se-ten, issued in 1987.

The USPS’s third 50-stamp se-tenant came in 1987. It was issued to celebrate America’s variety of wildlife, and animal subjects were chosen to reflect the geographic and biological diversity of creatures native to this continent. All areas of the United States are represented, including Hawaii and Alaska. To point out the importance of the environment and the realism of the designs, wildlife artist Chuck Ripper pictured many of the animals with flora common to their habitats.

2647-96 - 1992 29¢ Wildflowers
US #2647-96 was the fourth US se-ten, issued in 1992.

The fourth US se-tenant was the 1992 wildflowers sheet. The USPS gathered 50 of the most popular varieties of wildflowers, put them in a bouquet, and presented them to the public. Each of the species featured on these stamps is native to North America and can be found today in at least one of the 50 states. Alaska watercolor artist Karen Mallary was assigned to the task of choosing the flowers and illustrating them. This was the first 50-stamp pane printed by a private contractor and the first US commemorative issue printed completely by offset lithography.

3561-3610 - 2002 34¢ Greetings From America
US #3561-3610 – 2002 34¢ Greetings from America sheet
2002 37¢ Greetings From America
US #3696-3745 – 2002 37¢ Greetings from America sheet

On April 4, 2002, the USPS issued the Greetings from America stamps. This marked the first time a US postage stamp was issued on the same day in every state. The Greetings from America stamps are reminiscent of the large-letter postcards that vacationing tourists of the 1930s and ’40s sent back home. In addition to the state name, each stamp contains images associated with that state. The state bird, flower, tree, capital, and date of statehood appear on the back of the liner release paper. Due to a rate change, this sheet was reissued with 37¢ denominations on October 25, 2002.

1633//3745 - 1976-2002 50 Stamp Sheet Collection
US #1633//3745 – Get all the 50-stamp se-tenants in one order.
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7 Comments

  1. Sadly the Greetings from America 50 stamp issue had tohave the New York state stamp changed from the original design, due to the murderous attacks and destruction of the World Trade Center towers.

  2. Wow !! A wonderful understanding for the 50 stamp Se Tenant stamps produced by the USPS. They are unique and beautiful varieties for collection. Thank you so much !

  3. I remember a set of stamps, se-tenant issued some years ago depicting space exploration. Most of the stamps show scenes right out of a science fiction book or film. I can see why such stamps would be unpopular with collectors. Right up there with the “Loony Tunes” cartoon set, and Walt Disney anima-
    tion set.

  4. The 1987 American Wildlife issue also featured animals native to Canada; ir was issued in tandem with the CAPEX ’87 international stamp show in Toronto.

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