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Winchester Discounts

1994 Wonders of the Sea

1994 Wonders of the Sea

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The block of stamps, U.S. #2863-66, issued on October 3, 1994, showcased the "Wonders of the Sea" and marked several firsts in stamp history. Here are the key details about this commemorative stamp set:

  • Stamp Category: Commemorative
  • Set: Wonders of the Sea
  • Value: 29¢, rate for first-class mail
  • First Day of Issue: October 3, 1994
  • First Day City: Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Quantity Issued: 225,900,000
  • Printed by: Barton Press for Banknote Corporation of America
  • Printing Method: Lithographed
  • Format: Panes of 24 in offset plates of 216
  • Perforations: 11.1 x 11
  • Microprinting: The year “1994” was microprinted on each stamp, found on the divers’ oxygen tanks on three stamps and on the black and white striped fish on the fourth stamp.

Why the stamps were issued: These stamps were released on the first Monday of National Stamp Collecting Month (NSCM) with the 1994 slogan "Get in the swim of things – collect stamps!" incorporated into cancellations nationwide.

About the stamp design: Artist Charles Lynn Bragg created the artwork, capturing four underwater themes: recreation, scientific research, exploration, and commercial fishing. The scenes blend seamlessly across each block of four stamps and the entire pane of 24. The diving equipment was kept generic, and Bragg had creative license to depict colorful sea life from various oceans.

Special design details: Each stamp featured diverse marine elements:

  • Upper-left (#2863): diver, outboard motorboat, black long-nosed butterflyfish, porcupine fish, frigate bird, and dolphin.
  • Upper-right (#2864): diver, dolphin, booby (bird), bannerfish, and triple-masted schooner.
  • Lower-left (#2865): diver, wheel of sunken ship, raccoon butterflyfish, nautilus, and starfish.
  • Lower-right (#2866): diver, spot-tailed butterflyfish, striped scat, raccoon butterflyfish, clown anemone fish, and convict sturgeonfish.

About the printing process: The stamps were issued in panes of 24, with each pane containing full blocks. This was the first time since the 1984 Orchids stamps that such a layout occurred for a se-tenant block of four.

First Day City: The first-day ceremony took place underwater off Hawaii’s Waikiki Beach, marking the first time a US stamp was canceled underwater. The ceremony occurred 80 feet below the Pacific Ocean's surface, near a shipwreck site.

Unusual facts about this stamp: An error was discovered after release, where the artist painted the diver-down flag on the top-left stamp upside-down. Additionally, at least two error panes of these stamps were found without perforations (#2866b).

About National Stamp Collecting Month: Introduced in October 1991, NSCM aimed to promote stamp collecting among employees and customers. The 1994 slogan encouraged people to discover the joy of stamp collecting.

History the stamp represents: The stamps pay homage to the rich history of underwater diving, from ancient practices to modern advancements like the aqualung developed by Jacques Cousteau and Emile Gagnan in 1943. The stamps reflect the evolution of diving technology and its various applications, from recreational diving to scientific research and commercial endeavors.

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