By Charles Snee
Sometimes called the backbone of America, the Mississippi River is celebrated on 10 United States forever commemorative stamps to be issued May 23 in Memphis, Tennessee.
The undenominated Mighty Mississippi stamps (58¢) feature photographs that each depict a different state along the 2,340-mile length of the river that stretches from remote Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico.
An official Day One ceremony, free and open to the public, is scheduled for 11 a.m. Central Daylight Time at Beale Street Landing, 251 Riverside Drive, Memphis. The Pier is a scenic river cruise dock that opened in 2014.
Gary R. Barksdale, Chief Postal Inspector for the United States Postal Inspection Service, will serve as the dedicated official.
Collectors wishing to attend the ceremony are invited to register online.
When the Mighty Mississippi stamps were first announced as part of the 2022 U.S. Stamp Program in early November 2021, the USPS said the format would be a 20 pane. However, Postal Service technical details indicate that the stamps were printed in sections of 10.
The Postal Service called on Ashton Potter USA Ltd. in Williamsville, NY, to print 40 million Mighty Mississippi stamps that were finished in 4 million flaps of 10 for sale at post offices. In addition to panes, the USPS will offer uncut press sheets.
As shown on the U.S. Postal Service preliminary illustrations for the stamps, the states depicted in each row of two stamps in the vertical block of 10 are (from top to bottom) Minnesota and Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois, Missouri and Kentucky, Arkansas and Tennessee. , and Louisiana and Mississippi.
“At the point where the Mississippi reaches the Gulf of Mexico, the trickle that started in Lake Itasca has mingled with the waters of 31 states,” the Postal Service said.
Dana Holm’s photo of Lake Itasca can be seen on the Mighty Mississippi stamp for Minnesota. The Wisconsin stamp features Jay Olson-Goude’s photo of an autumn view of the Great River Road.
On Iowa stamp, The Steamboat american queen is seen near Bettendorf, Iowa, in a photo by David Sebben. Walter Blackledge’s photo on the Illinois stamp shows a sailboat gliding down a limestone cliff surrounded by fall foliage.
A dramatic photo by Evan Spiler on the Missouri stamp captures the arch of the walkway against the St. Louis skyline at sunset. The Kentucky stamp features Larry Braun’s photo of the town of Wickliffe, located just south of the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.
A Mississippi River Parkway Commission photo of a curved levee flanked by forest and farmland is shown on the Mighty Mississippi stamp for Arkansas. MJ Scanlon’s photo on the Tennessee stamp shows a tugboat pushing a wide range of barges upstream with the Memphis skyline in the distance.
A Sean Pavone photo of the New Orleans-lit skyline and twin Crescent City Connection bridges graces the Louisiana stamp, while Ron Levine’s photo on the Mississippi stamp features a delta bayou dotted with cypress trees draped in spanish moss.
The state name, in black, reads the upper left margin on each stamp, and “Mighty Mississippi”, in gray, reads the lower left margin. “USA/FOREVER” is printed in white in the upper left corner of the photo on each stamp. Because these design elements are small, they don’t distract the viewer’s eye from the photos.
Three photographic riverscapes are illustrated on the decorative border (paper margin) surrounding the 10 Mighty Mississippi stamps. From top to bottom, photos show the Julien Dubuque Bridge spanning the Mississippi River to connect Dubuque, Iowa, and East Dubuque, Illinois; the skyline of Saint-Louis standing out against a multicolored cloudy sky; and a bayou in Mississippi. “Mighty Mississippi” is inscribed on the top selvedge.
Edge photos were taken by Don McLaughlin, Jeffrey Smith and Tom Wolf, respectively.
On the back of the glass (not pictured) is a map of the central United States that shows the course of the river and its major tributaries, according to the Postal Service.
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