Produce Takes Its Place on New U.S. Stamps
Produce has long performed an important duty in art, often by serving as material for still life paintings. Now, as part of that larger tradition, the U.S. Postal Service has released a series of 10 stamps, each with a fruit or vegetable on it.
The lucky items of produce are these: red and black plums, heirloom and cherry tomatoes, carrots, lemons, blueberries, red and green grapes, lettuces, strawberries, eggplants, and figs.
Owing to the requirements of the times, the official unveiling of the new stamps will take place on July 17 via social media channels.
“Inspired by the artistic traditions of Renaissance Europe, artist Robert Papp used real fruits and vegetables as models,” according to the USPS. “After sketching his subjects, he transferred the drawings to canvas mounted on hardboard and created 10 stunning oil images of fruits and vegetables. Postal Service Art Director Derry Noyes used those images to design 10 stamps, which are being issued as First-Class Mail Forever stamps.”
As the volume of first-class mail in the U.S. continues to decline, and as the USPS faces potentially existential financial problems, the agency has worked to make a splash with new stamps to spark consumer interest and more use of postal services. “In 2019, the Postal Service released several stamps that highlighted printing technologies that were new to the production of our stamps, including the Frozen Treats stamps -- the first "scratch and sniff" stamp,” the USPS said.
Other recent attempts to make a mark via stamps — attempts made right before the announcement of the fruit and vegetable still life images — include:
- The “1969: First Moon Landing” stamps were printed on a metallic chrome foil to give a sense of the mirrored effect on NASA space suits.
- The “Transcontinental Railroad” stamps had intricate gold foil representing the golden spike and framing the two train engine stamps.
- The “Spooky Silhouettes” stamps used rainbow holographic foil giving a sense of lighted windows behind the Halloween themes.
- The “Tyrannosaurus Rex” stamps were the second lenticular stamp issued by the United States Postal Service. The stamp showed movement of T. Rex roaring and added flesh to the bone display. It also combined regular printed stamps with lenticular on the same pane.
In barely related news, the upcoming release of these new stamps featuring produce comes amid increased focus on widening access to healthy and fresh food, especially during the pandemic. For instance, a recently announced program in Pennsylvania will direct $10 million in grants to state businesses that have worked to maintain access to fresh, healthy food throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the office of Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat who’s had that job since 2015. The move comes as federal, state and local governments try to increase access to fresh and healthy food to more people, including those with relatively low income, during the pandemic.