Sunday, December 8, 2013
CAPE ELIZABETH — Mainers can send their mail in style thanks to a new stamp series issued by the U.S. Postal Service.
A series of new postal stamps features images of the New England coastal lighthouses, from left, Portland Head, Portsmouth Harbor, Boston Harbor, Point Judith and New London Harbor.
A new postal stamp features Portland Head. The USPS is releasing a series of five Forever stamps featuring images of five New England lighthouses.
The New England Coastal Lighthouses Forever stamp series, which went on sale Saturday, includes the iconic Portland Head Light and four other lighthouses along the New England coast. The new stamps were unveiled Saturday at a first-day-of-issue ceremony at Fort Williams Park. About 200 people showed up.
The series also includes the Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse in New Castle, N.H., the Boston Harbor Light in Boston Harbor, the Point Judith Lighthouse in Narragansett, R.I., and the New London Harbor Lighthouse in New London, Conn. They are among a dozen lighthouses erected in the early days of the United States.
"Remarkably, the Portland Head Light hasn't changed much," said Dennis Toner, a governor of the U.S. Postal Service.
Portland Head Light was built in 1791, during what Wayne Wheeler, president of the United States Lighthouse Society, considers the golden age of lighthouses -- when they were still maintained by keepers. Today the nation's 600 lighthouses are automated.
The Forever stamps, which cost 46 cents each, can be used anytime in the future to mail first-class letters even if the price of first-class mail changes. The self-adhesive stamps come in sheets of 20. The stamps are based on paintings by artist Howard Koslow of Toms River, N.J.
Deborah Essler, manager of the Northern New England District of the U.S. Postal Service, used the occasion to make a case for the postal service in the age of cellphones, texting and other electronic forms of communication.
Essler said the mail remains a powerful way to communicate.
"The Postal Service is timeless, just like the lighthouses," she said.
The ceremony drew an eclectic mix of local officials, tourists, lighthouse aficionados and Fort Williams Park frequenters.
"This is one of my favorite spots in the whole country," said Donna Edwards of Scarborough. "I am here often on walks and if there is an event, I go to it. And, coincidentally, I was out of stamps," .
For Greg Graham and daughter Morgan, 16, of Longmont, Colo., the ceremony capped off what turned out to be a postal-themed visit.
On their first trip to Maine, they spent Friday touring Casco Bay on the Casco Bay Lines Mailboat.
"It is pretty," Morgan Graham said.
First-day-of-issue postmarks are available for the next 60 days at local U.S. post offices, the Postal Store at www.usps.com/stamps or by phone at 1-800-STAMP-24.
Customers should place the stamps on envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes to themselves or others and place them in a large envelope addressed to New England Coastal Lighthouses (Portland Head) Stamps, Postmaster, 125 Forest Ave., Portland ME 04101-9998.
The Postal Service will return the envelopes by mail. The first 50 postmarks are free and cost 5 cents per postmark beyond that. Orders must be postmarked by Sept. 13.
Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at: