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The United States Postal Service released a new Forever stamp honoring the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Oct. 2. The stamp’s unveiling took place at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery during a first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony that was open to the public.

Designed by Ethel Kessler, an art director for USPS, with a Michael J. Deas oil painting based on a photograph by Philip Bermingham, the stamp captures the 107th U.S. Supreme Court justice in her black judicial robe and favorite white-lace collar.

“Justice Ginsburg was an iconic figure who dedicated her life to public service and the pursuit of justice,” said USPS Board of Governors Chairman Roman Martinez IV. “She was a true pioneer, and it is our honor to celebrate her incredible legacy in this way. This stamp serves not just as a tribute but as an inspiration for future generations to uphold the values she fought for.”

Joining Martinez for the ceremony were Nina Totenberg, legal affairs correspondent at National Public Radio; Lori Dym, USPS procurement and property law managing counsel; Elizabeth Glazer, founder of the public safety nonprofit Vital City; and Ginsburg’s granddaughter Clara Spera, a lecturer at Harvard Law School and senior associate at WilmerHale.

The Ruth Bader Ginsburg stamp is being issued as a Forever stamp and is available in panes of 20 at select Post Office locations nationwide and at usps.com/shopstamps. Forever stamps will always be equal in value to the current First-Class Mail 1-ounce price.

The stamp will serve as a lasting tribute to the Brooklyn native who has left an indelible impact on American jurisprudence and society at large.

Ginsburg’s multifaceted legacy includes the legal and social changes she helped to bring about; the example she set of tenacity and perseverance in the service of meaningful work; the inspiring passion that she brought to her dissents in defense of principles she held dear; and the countless people — young and old, men and women — who view her as a role model.

About Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ginsburg was a lifelong trailblazer as a woman in a male-dominated field, a law professor, an expert on anti-discrimination and equal protection law, and a judge who was unafraid to dissent from her colleagues in steadfast defense of her principles.

In a distinguished career that began as an activist lawyer fighting gender discrimination, Ginsburg was a respected jurist whose strong dissents on socially controversial rulings made her an icon of American culture.

President Bill Clinton nominated her to serve as a Supreme Court justice in 1993, and she subsequently earned praise for her pragmatism and willingness to build consensus. After a 2007 decision upholding a federal abortion procedure ban, she took the unusual step of reading her dissent aloud from the bench, a practice she continued with greater frequency during her second decade on the court.

In 2011, she received an honorary law degree from Harvard, which she attended for two of the three years of her legal education. In 2012, she was the subject of a panel discussion at Yale Law School prior to being named the first Gruber Distinguished Lecturer in Women’s Rights. In 2013, an issue of the Harvard Law Review included several warm tributes to her jurisprudence, and she received the Radcliffe Medal from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University in 2015 for her role as a socially transformative figure.

In 2013, a popular blog created by a New York University law student elevated Ginsburg to the status of “Notorious R.B.G.” — a humorous play on the name of late rapper the Notorious B.I.G. — and further enshrined her as an icon of American popular culture. In 2016, Ginsburg and two biographers published “My Own Words,” which became an immediate New York Times bestseller. The 2018 documentary “RBG” brought additional attention to her life and work, and another film released that year, “On the Basis of Sex,” dramatized Ginsburg and her husband arguing her first discrimination case in the 1970s.

Ginsburg was a lifelong fan of opera, and during her time on the bench she came to be seen as one of the country’s foremost promoters of the art form. In 2015 she attended the debut of a one-act operatic comedy that dramatized her friendship with fellow Supreme Court justice and opera lover Antonin Scalia, a conservative with whom she frequently disagreed on legal matters.

During her Supreme Court years, Ginsburg battled cancer several times but always insisted on returning to the bench as quickly as possible after treatments. Even as she became more visibly frail, her determination to stick to her rigorous, much-publicized daily workout routine and her regular, relentless schedule of work earned her ever greater admiration as she demonstrated her endurance and the strength of her commitment to causes she had championed for a lifetime.

Ginsburg died at the age of 87 on Sept. 18, 2020, at her home in Washington, DC, of complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer.

After Ginsburg’s death, she lay in repose for two days at the Supreme Court — outdoors due to COVID-19 restrictions at the time — after which, during a private ceremony, she was the first woman to lie in state in the U.S. Capitol.

New Snow Globe stamps from the U.S. Postal Service are now available for purchase.

Beloved by children and adults alike, snow globes can be miniature worlds of white, kitschy souvenirs of memories made or tiny works of art caught in a whirling microcosm. Celebrating the spirit of the holidays, the U.S. Postal Service captures the playful pleasure of snow globes on four new stamps.

“People collect all sorts of souvenirs on their travels: coffee mugs, T-shirts, refrigerator magnets — but none are as enchanting as snow globes, creating snowstorms you stir up with a flick of the wrist, that gradually settle to display a world in miniature,” said Sheila Holman, dedicating official for the stamps and marketing vice president for the Postal Service.

New Snow Globe stamps from the U.S. Postal Service are now available for purchase.

The dedication ceremony for the Snow Globes stamps took place at the Stephen C. West Ice Arena in Breckenridge. The stamps are now available at Post Office locations nationwide and online at The Postal Store at usps.com/shopstamps.

Joining Holman at the ceremony were Gregory Manchess, stamp artist; Eric Mamula, mayor of Breckenridge; Scott Reid, deputy town manager and winter sports enthusiast; Jonathan Oetken, winter sports host and master of ceremonies for the event; and Harry Rinker, author of a book about snow globes and noted antiques writer.

“Snow globes cause wonder,” said Rinker, who is also a member of the Postal Service’s Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee and a snow globe collector himself. “Every shake is different and each time a globe is shaken, it is the beginning of a new adventure. Shaking a snow globe is an opportunity to relive a multitude of childhood, winter, and winter holiday memories.”

The first published reference to snow globes was in a report of the 1878 Paris Exposition Universelle, where several manufacturers exhibited “snowstorm paperweights,” as they were called at the time. Beginning around 1900, snow globes began appearing as souvenirs at tourist sites around Europe.

Over the years, snow globes have been called by many names — snow dome, water globe and snowfall weight, among others — but the most widely used name today is snow globe. Though “globe” seems to indicate a sphere, they come in almost any shape that can contain the liquid inside. The container is often mounted on a base, though sometimes the shape, such as a bottle, allows it to stand alone without a support. The base might enclose a music box; other modern embellishments can include lights and animation of the scene inside.

Derry Noyes, an art director for USPS, designed the Snow Globes stamps with original art by Manchess. Painting in oil, Manchess created the designs featuring icons of the season, each spherical snow globe sitting on a brown base: a snowman wearing a jaunty red-and-white scarf; Santa Claus on a rooftop, preparing to climb down the chimney; a reindeer standing in a snowy forest; and a snowy tree decorated with colorful ornaments.

In each snowy scene, white flakes fly beneath the dome of glass, with the words “forever” and “USA” in the lower left-hand side of each stamp. The booklet cover features a detail of the snowman globe. To the left, the title Snow Globes is in capital letters of icy white and blue. The booklet includes 20 stamps, five each of the four designs.

The Snow Globes stamps are being issued as Forever stamps, which will always be equal in value to the current First-Class Mail 1-ounce price.

Postal Products

Customers may purchase stamps and other philatelic products through the Postal Store at usps.com/shopstamps, by calling 844-737-7826, by mail through USA Philatelic or at Post Office locations nationwide. For officially licensed stamp products, shop the USPS Officially Licensed Collection on Amazon.

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Image courtesy of USPS

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 to Oct. 15), the U.S. Postal Service recently introduced new festive Piñatas! stamps in a dedication ceremony at the 36th Annual Piñata Festival in Roswell, New Mexico.

These Forever stamps come in four designs — two donkeys and two seven-pointed stars — celebrating the traditional Mexican fiesta favorite.

This is the third consecutive year the Postal Service has issued a Hispanic-themed stamp. In September 2021, USPS issued Day of the Dead stamps, and in July 2022, USPS issued Mariachi stamps.

“One of the reasons I feel proud to work at the Postal Service is because we are one of the nation’s oldest and most admired public service institutions. Part of that proud history is celebrating our multi-faceted heritage through stamps. Ours is truly a world culture, and our stamps allow us to weave together the many threads of our national tapestry, and piñatas are the perfect example of this,” said Isaac Cronkhite, chief processing and distribution officer and executive vice president, U.S. Postal Service, who served as the stamps’ dedicating official.

Other participants at the stamp ceremony were Juan P. Oropesa, City Councilor, Roswell, NM; Timothy Z. Jennings, Mayor of Roswell, NM; Alma Salas, Board President, Roswell Hispano Chamber of Commerce; Felipe Flores, Jr., Western Division, Senior Director of Processing Operations, U.S. Postal Service; Yesenia Prieto, Executive Director and Piñata Maker and Artist, Piñata Design Studio; and Emily Zaiden, Director and Curator, Craft in America Center.

Background

Image courtesy of USPS

Scholars believe piñatas might have their origins in China, where medieval European explorers described a New Year’s custom that sounds familiar to us today. A brightly decorated animal figurine was beaten with a stick until it broke open, releasing the seeds contained in the hollow interior. After the remains of the vessel were burned, the ashes were gathered for good luck during the coming year.

By the 14th century in Italy, a similar practice — possibly imported from China by Marco Polo — became part of festivities during the season of Lent. Rather than the brightly adorned figure that featured in the Chinese ceremonies, the Italians used an undecorated clay vessel called the pignatta (“fragile pot”), which was filled with sweets rather than seeds. As the custom migrated to Spain, breaking the pignatta — piñata in Spanish — evolved into a form of celebration on the first Sunday in Lent. The piñata came to the New World with Christian missionaries in the 16th century.

At the time of the Spanish arrival in what is now Mexico, the Indigenous people had their own traditions. The Aztecs, for example, decorated clay pots with feathers and filled them with small gifts. After hanging clay pots in front of statues of their gods, they struck the pots with sticks until the vessels broke and the treasures inside fell to the ground as offerings.

Spanish missionaries combined these ceremonies with their own Lenten tradition to attract Christian converts. Used as religious instruction, the piñata represented the devil and temptation. The blindfolded “player” symbolized blind faith armed with the stick of goodness; breaking open the piñata showed the triumph of good over evil.

Today, the piñata is still an important part of many celebrations in Mexico and the United States, and the custom has spread to other countries. Piñatas feature in all manner of festivities: holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and weddings. They are a traditional part of the posadas, a nine-day festival held in early December that commemorates Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem before the birth of Jesus.

Historically, the piñata-maker — called the piñatero or piñatera — began with a clay pot as the base, which was covered with shredded paper and engrudo (a paste made from water and flour or cornstarch).

The design emerged as the maker attached cones and other forms to the prepared pot. Gluing strips of curled and cut tissue paper over the entire structure, the artist turned the clay vessel into a swan or a bull or a seven-point star — almost anything imaginable. Today, a traditionally crafted piñata might begin with a frame made of reeds tied with string; a homemade piñata sometimes uses a balloon as the base. Whether mass-produced, handcrafted by artisans or made at home, piñatas are easily found to fit any occasion or taste.

The customs surrounding piñatas today are very similar to those from centuries ago. Filled with treats and presents, the piñata hangs by ropes that can be manipulated to move up, down or sideways. A blindfolded player tries to strike the piñata with a stick while the rope is pulled to make a direct hit more difficult. Each player takes a turn until one breaks the piñata, scattering its contents on the ground to be gathered up by all the participants. Though the meaning of breaking the piñata has evolved, the result is still the same: bounty for all.

Stamp Art

The stamp art features four digital illustrations of two traditional piñata designs — a donkey and a seven-pointed star. The bright, saturated color palette was inspired by Mexican culture, including the vibrant colors of small-town houses, traditional hand-sewn dresses, handmade toys and flowers, and classic piñatas themselves. The donkey illustrations are set against either a pink or orange background; the stars feature either a purple or green background. The background colors add to the exuberant and celebratory feel of the stamps.

Víctor Meléndez created the original art and designed the stamps. Antonio Alcalá was the art director.

The Piñatas! stamps are being issued in booklets of 20 stamps. These Forever stamps will always be equal in value to the current First-Class Mail 1-ounce price.

Postal Products

Customers may purchase stamps and other philatelic products through the Postal Store at usps.com/shopstamps, by calling 844-737-7826, by mail through USA Philatelic or at Post Office locations nationwide. For officially licensed stamp products, shop the USPS Officially Licensed Collection on Amazon.

Stock photo

Who uses the post office? In 2019, 143 billion pieces of mail were sent to 160 million delivery addresses, with more than 31,000 offices being operated.

Baby boomers and those who live in rural areas rely on the USPS to receive prescriptions and social security checks as well as pay bills more so than other demographic groups. But in a presidential election year, especially one during a pandemic where many are hesitant to cast their votes in person, mail-in voting could be what allows so many the chance to participate in democracy.

Perhaps more importantly, it could possibly show just how amazing democracy can be if even more people are enfranchised.

It’s been evidenced at the very local level. Residents were sent ballots for their school district budgets and trustee elections directly in the mail. What we saw was a massive increase in the numbers of ballots cast amongst all our local districts. The Smithtown school district, for example, saw over 8,000 more people cast votes compared to 2019 numbers.

This is an example of how granting easier access to voting will result in more votes cast. How important is this? In 2016, only 58.1% of the voting age population cast their ballots, and that was during a presidential election year.

Despite fears that mail-in ballots will somehow lead to voter fraud, experts have consistently said that states that have mail-in voting systems have not experienced notable numbers of fake or false ballots more than states lacking such systems..

It is in everyone’s interest to have more people participating in democracy.

And with the White House’s constant refrain that voter fraud could occur if mail-in ballots are widely used, and with the administration having threatened to withhold funds from the USPS, it’s necessary to cast a critical eye on the controversial changes made by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. His decisions have led to overtime cuts, reduced post office hours, changes to delivery policies and the removal of some sorting machines. The changes have already led to mail delays, including on Long Island, according to the Letter Carriers Local 6000, a L.I. and Queens-based postal union. Though DeJoy announced Aug. 18 he would be “suspending these initiatives” until after the election, we must remain alert. The postal agency itself has said delivering an estimated 80 million ballots nationwide will be difficult.

Instead we should now focus on making sure the process runs as smoothly as possible. It’s true that the New York and California Democratic primaries were hurt by an inefficient infrastructure that was not made to handle the mass influx of votes. Reports say that thousands of such votes had to be discounted because of flaws by the people who cast them.

The goal of the Suffolk County Board of Elections should be to increase its capability to handle what will likely be a mass influx of both mail-in and absentee ballots. Better yet, it should be incumbent on the federal government to supply local municipalities the capability to handle the new influx of votes. 

We agree with Congressman Tom Suozzi (D-NY3), who at a press conference Aug. 17 said we needed an “urgent call to arms to break through all the noise and focus on protecting not only the security of our elections, but the integrity and reliability of the United States Postal Service. Lives, livelihoods and our democracy are at stake.”

We need to extend this thought process to the efficacy of our democracy itself. Improving people’s ability to vote should be a no-brainer in a society such as ours. We must cut through partisanship and remember just how important it is that every person should have a voice in government, despite — or more so, because of — the ongoing pandemic.