The U.S. Postal Service is emphasizing forever in 2011.
On Jan. 22, the USPS will issue the Lunar New Year: Year of the Rabbit stamp as a Forever Stamp for mailing a one-ounce letter. The stamp will sell at the current First Class Mail one-ounce price of $.44, but can be used from now on to mail a First Class one-ounce letter no matter what stamp price increases may later take effect.
Although the Year of the Rabbit stamp is the only one the Postal Service has so far announced as a Forever Stamp, the other commemorative stamps which will be issued through the year and were made public Tuesday are all marked forever.
The Postal Service is expected to announce the forever-ness of this year's program on Jan.14, according to published reports.
Forever stamps sell at the going rate, then retain the power to mail a one-ounce letter regardless of price increases.
The first Forever Stamp featured the Liberty Bell and was issued in April 2007. Since then 28 billion Forever Stamps have been sold, resulting in $12.1 billion in total revenue. Nearly 85 percent of the service's stamp program is now Forever, the USPS said.
The stamps issued this year will feature former President Ronald Reagan, author Mark Twain, award-winning actors Gregory Peck and Helen Hayes, and Latin music giants Selena, Carlos Gardel, Carmen Miranda, Tito Puente and Celia Cruz.
Former U.S. Congresswoman from Texas Barbara Jordan is the 2011 Black Heritage stamp honoree. Stamps will be issued to observe the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the 50th anniversary of America's first manned spaceflight and a celebration of Disney Pixar movie characters.
There will also be stamps honoring Kansas statehood, jazz appreciation, the Indianapolis 500, 12 Pioneers of American Design, four American scientists, the Merchant Marine, artists Edward Hopper and Romare Bearden, Owney the Postal Dog and other images.
In addition, new designs will be issued for Purple Heart, Wedding and Holidays stamps in 2011.
For more information and low-resolution images of the stamps in the 2011 series, visit the USPS Newsroom at www.usps.com/news.
The Postal Service, which receives no tax dollars but relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations, requested a two-cent rate increase for 2011, but the Postal Rate Commission denied it. The USPS is currently appealing that decision in federal court.
The USPS lost $8.6 billion last year and expects to lose another $6 billion this year, due to a 3.5 percent reduction in the volume of mail since 2009. The service has considered cutting delivery days from six to five days a week. Congress would have to approve any such change.