Friday, January 29, 2016

Flowers Blooming on Stamps Today

Depicted on the stamps, top row from left:  corn lilies, tulips, stocks, roses and petunias. Pictured bottom row from left:  tulips, dahlias, Japanese Iris, tulips and daffodils and jonquils. 

The U.S. Postal Service continues its tradition of beautiful floral-themed stamps by dedicating the Botanical Art Forever stamps featuring vintage illustrations taken from 19th- and early 20th-century plant and seed catalogs.

The official First-Day-of-Issue ceremony will take place January 29 in the Crystal Ballroom of the Hilton Atlanta Downtown, 255 Courtland St. N.E. as part of the American Philatelic Society’s AmeriStamp Expo.

The stamp art features 10 individual designs, each a detail of an illustration from an American nursery catalog printed between 1891 and 1912. The catalogs are part of The New York Botanical Garden’s nursery and seed catalog collection, one of the largest and most important collections in the United States. The collection and similar collections in other institutions are treasure troves of historical information for scholars and scientists studying a wide range of subjects, including the history of botany, horticulture, commercial agriculture, landscape design, plant exploration, graphic arts and publishing.

Drawings of Exotic Botanical Species
Beginning in the late 15th century, intrepid Europeans explored new lands in the Americas, the South Pacific and other areas of the world. There they discovered plants unknown in Europe, which they imported for study and propagation. Scientists, gardeners, plant hunters, and collectors required accurate botanical drawings of the exotic new species. Botanical illustrators produced works that were meticulous and highly detailed and quite often beautiful pieces of art as well. The years 1750 to 1850 are considered the height of the botanical illustrator’s art.

The mid-19th century saw a flowering of another kind of botanical art. As more people discovered the joys of ornamental and recreational gardening, thriving commercial greenhouses and nurseries marketed plants — exotic as well as native — to eager gardeners. To entice buyers, the nurseries created colorful catalogs illustrated with beautiful blossoms and lush foliage. The illustrations were idealized, romantic versions of what plants could look like, but they fueled many a garden dream.

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