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Love story

8 facts about popular stamp series

Postal Service officials join the cast of “The Love Boat” to dedicate the 1985 Love stamp on the show’s Hollywood set. From left are Los Angeles Postmaster Charles King; Ted McGinley; Gavin MacLeod; Jill Whelan; Patricia Klous; Deputy Postmaster General Jackie Strange; Douglas S. Cramer, a “Love Boat” executive producer; Ted Lange; Fred Grandy; and Bernie Kopell.

In honor of the newly released Made of Hearts stamp, here are eight facts about the Postal Service’s long-running Love stamp series.

1. Love is all around. The first Love stamp was released in 1973. It was illustrated by pop artist Robert Indiana, incorporating a design he’d also famously depicted in painting and sculpture. The stamp, which was sold for two years, proved so popular that more than 300 million were printed.

2. A customer inspired the series. Around 1970, an Oklahoma customer wrote to the Postal Service to request “a stamp made for lovers, so our letters may stand out among all others.” USPS considered several designs for the first stamp, including a Mary Faulconer floral design that was eventually released, in a slightly modified form, in 1982.

3. Love stamps once loved to party. In the 1980s, New Year’s Eve celebrants in the nation’s capital enjoyed their own version of New York City’s Times Square ball drop. In a Washington, DC, tradition launched in 1983, a massive reproduction of the upcoming Love stamp that had been hoisted to the top of the clock tower of the Old Post Office Pavilion was lowered at midnight to ring in the new year.

4. TV stars loved Love. Cast members of the popular romantic comedy series “The Love Boat” — including Gavin MacLeod (Capt. Stubing), Bernie Kopell (Doc), Fred Grandy (Gopher) and Ted Lange (Isaac) — were on hand for the 1985 Love stamp dedication, held on the show’s set in Hollywood. Teen actress Jill Whelan (Vicki, the captain’s daughter) sang the national anthem.

5. Love was in the air in the City by the Bay. The dedication ceremony for the 1987 Love stamp at San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel opened outside with singer Tony Bennett’s arrival via cable car, at which point he serenaded the crowd with — what else? — his signature tune, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”

6. Victorian Hearts were to die for. Breaking away from the square and rectangular shapes of the past, the 1999 Love designs were the Postal Service’s first stamps die-cut to the shape of the images depicted.

7. Birds had it made in the shade. The Love Swans of 1997 were the first in the series not to feature the word “love.” However, under magnification, “love” can be seen in microprinting in the shading of each swan’s wings.

8. Speaking of Love-ly animals. Other loving and beloved beasts from the series included 1986’s puppy, 1994’s dove and 2006’s Love Birds.

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