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Heroes And Romance On New Stamps

This story was written by's Lloyd de Vries.

Next year's U.S. stamps will emphasize heroes - real and imagined, as well as romance.

Ten stamps will highlight comic book superheroes like Superman and Batman but there will also be stamps for bats-men: baseball sluggers.

There will also be romance: Lovebirds, wedding stamps and Disney couples from the studio's animated films.

In order to make sure there are enough 39-cent stamps in your post office, for the new rate that starts Jan. 8, the USPS is expected to issue in December two stamps without prices marked on them, each worth 39 cents. One shows the Statue of Liberty and the U.S. flag, the other, two lovebirds.

Both probably will be reissued early next year with "39c" on them.'s Lloyd de Vries gives an audio report on the upcoming new stamps.

"There's been a lot of requests for a Mickey Mantle stamp, and we wanted to go a little bit beyond that, and highlight some of the other great sluggers," Dave Failor, executive director of Stamp Services of the U.S. Postal Service, told

The other baseball players are Mel Ott, Roy Campanella and Hank Greenberg.

Other heroes on next year's stamps include Benjamin Franklin, born in 1706. The four stamps will note Franklin the Scientist, Franklin the Printer, Franklin the Statesman and Franklin the Postmaster.

"He was such a varied individual that we thought that if anybody needed to be featured in a block of four stamps, Benjamin Franklin would certainly be the right subject matter," said Failor.

But Franklin isn't the only American diplomat on the 2006 stamps: Six professional diplomats, chosen on the advice of the American Foreign Service Association, will be featured in a six-stamp "souvenir sheet."

They are Hiram Bingham IV, who saved many French Jews from the Holocaust; Francis W. Willis, the first woman U.S. Ambassador; Charles Eustis Bohlen, a specialist in Soviet affairs who served as the Russian translator for Presidents Roosevelt and Truman at the Tehran, Yalta and Potsdam conferences during World War II; Robert D. Murphy, a top aide to President Roosevelt during World War II and later as Ambassador to Belgium and Japan; Clifton R. Wharton, the first black U.S. Ambassador; and Philip C. Habib, who held top posts in the State Department and was called out of retirement by President Reagan in 1981 to prevent war in the Middle East.

Diplomats is one of four issues coming out during the major international stamp show in Washington next year. The others are a sheet reproducing classic issues of 1922-23 (Lincoln Memorial, U.S. Capitol and the Freedom statue atop the Capitol Dome); a joint issue with Canada celebrating the 1606 exploration voyage of Samuel de Champlain in 1606; and Wonders of America, which evokes the classic tourist postcards of the mid-20th Century with 40 stamps titled "Tallest Dunes," "Biggest Flower," "Windiest Place," and so on.

Also on the lighter side are two entertainment issues sure to please film aficionados: The 12th Legends of Hollywood stamp subject is Judy Garland, featuring a publicity shot from "A Star Is Born" (1954). The 2006 Black Heritage entry honors actress Hattie McDaniel, the first African-American to win an Academy Award (for "Gone With The Wind," 1939). The Postal Service notes that she worked hard to "change the [film] industry from within, as far as the discrimination that African-Americans felt."

Katherine Anne Porter, author of Ship Of Fools, is the Literary Arts subject in 2006. She won both the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize for her Collected Stories and was nominated three times for the Nobel Prize for Literature. And she was the great-granddaughter of Daniel Boone!

The program starts off Jan. 10 with eight stamps of Favorite Children's Book Animals, which is a joint issue with Britain: One of the eight U.S. stamps will feature a British book character (Maisy), while one of the eight British stamps will feature an American subject (The Very Hungry Caterpillar). The other U.S. animals are The Wild Thing, Curious George, Wilbur (from "Charlotte's Web"), Frederick, Olivia and Fox in Socks.

The wedding stamps will be featured in a booklet, but not the kind that fits in your wallet: It will resemble a small invitation, with 39-cent stamps for one-ounce letters (such as reply cards) on one side and 63-cent stamps for two-ounce letters (such as invitation packages) on the other.

The third set of The Art of Disney stamps also features romance, and cartoon couples: Mickey and Minnie, Cinderella and Prince Charming, Beauty and the Beast and Lady and the Tramp.

Other issues slated for 2006 are boxer Sugar Ray Robinson; Amber Alert; American Motorcycles; Quilts of Gee's Bend; Southern Florida Wetland; Holiday Snowflakes; and a new religious Christmas stamp, based on Chacón's "Madonna and Child with Bird" painting at the Denver Art Museum.

The 2006 stamp program was first announced to the stamp collecting press in August at a stamp show in Grand Rapids, Mich. Most of the designs, however, were held until now.

Each year, the USPS receives about 40,000 requests for stamp subjects, of which only a few dozen are granted. The Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee, which screens the requests and makes recommendations to the Postmaster General, usually works two to three years in advance. It's believed most if not all of the 2007 program is already done, although not yet announced.

By Lloyd de Vries