Story Behind a Stamp: Create Your
Own "Lickable Art"
and Writing Connections >>
The first U.S. postage stamps labeled "Wildlife Conservation" appeared
in 1956. These three-cent stamps presented the wild turkey, pronghorn
antelope, and king salmon — three animals that wildlife biologists
had struggled to save. The first
three wildlife conservation stamps were so popular that a fourth
stamp followed in 1957. That stamp featured one
of the country's most endangered species,
the Whooping Crane. Do you see it on this envelope?
19, 1957, four months before the stamp was issued, the Washington
Post reported that the whooping crane population stood at 31 — the
highest it had been since 1950,
when 34 whoopers were counted. Thanks to decades of joint efforts
between U.S. and Canadian conservationists, the wild whooping crane
population has grown to more than
200 in the original flock,
and a brand new flock was
begun in the Eastern U.S. in 2001. Still, the whooping crane remains
one of the rarest
species in North
America and one of the most endangered crane species in the world.
An Artful "First"
beautiful whooper stamp helped carry the conservation message
around the country. It also marked one of the first times more
than one color was used on a stamp! Unlike previous wildlife stamps, this
one sported three colors: blue for water, green for grasses,
orange for the two fuzzy whooping crane chicks. Fine engraving
embellished the drawing done by Bob Hines, an artist for the
U.S. Fish & Wildlife
Activity: Create Conservation Stamps
- Create your
own wildlife conservation stamps. Begin by choosing a favorite
animal from your state or province to feature on your stamp.
- Design and
color your stamp, working with your preferred stamp size
and art medium.
- If you like,
your own conservation pledge on the envelope.
a classroom or hallway display to spotlight everyone's wildlife
conservation stamp designs and pledges.
- Watch for
new postal stamps being issued. Start your own "first issue" collection
complete with postmark.
- Compare engraved stamps to those done on off-set printers. Engraving like you
see on the whooper stamp is a painstaking and dying art. Only a few commemorative,
limited-edition stamps use engraving. These include the Spanish-American War stamp
issued in March 1998 and the Pacific '97 stamp issued in 1997. Today, most stamps
are printed in full color, the artwork scanned onto a computer that digitally generates
four-color film. The film negatives are exposed on photosensitive plates (offset
printing plates). Each plate prints a different color. Offset printing is popular
because it produces bright stamps. The stamps, however, lack the fine-lined etching
characteristic of engraved stamps. Visit the post office or talk to stamp collectors
(called philatelists) to locate, then compare and contrast stamps made by engraving
with those made by offset printing.
- Find out
what's new in wildlife stamps today. As the environment and wildlife
became hotter topics, more wildlife stamps rolled off the U.S.
Bureau of Engraving
and Printing's presses.
1963 stamp honored pioneer bird painter John James Audubon.
• A 1966
stamp commemorating the 50-year anniversary
of the Migratory Bird Treaty.
of wildlife stamps have been issued by the USPS since the
1970s, including blocks of stamps dedicated to
state birds and flowers, mammals, hummingbirds,
• A 1996
series of stamps featured photographs of endangered
species, ranging from the Wyoming
toad to the West Indian manatee.
anyone you know own some of these stamps?
- Find wildlife
stamps from other countries. Many countries produce animal stamps.
Canada's very first stamp, issued in 1851, portrayed a beaver. Other
include an1866 Peruvian stamp depicting llamas and
an 1879 Guatemalan stamp depicting its national bird, the resplendent
quetzal. Can you find pictures of these stamps
to share with other interested students?
a survey. Have everyone collect the stamps that come into their mailboxes
at home for a week. Graph results to find out which stamps are currently
you are a Whooping Crane and write A Whoop of Thanks. Use
the background information above and your own ideas and research
to write letters
describing appreciation for the help that saved