Twenty pets 'star' on Forever postage stamps

Twenty animals that people love and keep as pets will be the “stars” on an upcoming set of first-class Forever stamps issued by the U.S. Postal Service.

A tan and white puppy, golden retriever, spotted kitten, tabby cat and a dappled grey horse each have their own stamp, as do a white mouse, two green parakeets, a blue and gold macaw, rabbit, chinchilla, gerbil, guinea pig and hamster.

There are even stamps for non-furry friends that aren’t soft or cuddly: a hermit crab, iguana, tortoise, corn snake, gecko, goldfish and betta fish.

The Postal Service hasn’t said exactly when the Forever Pets stamps will be issued, but it might be in May, which is National Pet Month, said Sue Brennan, a public relations spokeswoman in Washington, D.C.

The print run will be 400 million stamps, in 20 million booklets.

The idea for the Pets stamps “came out of the Citizen’s Stamp Advisory Committee,” Ms. Brennan said. “They were responding to the public’s love of pet-related stamps.”

The U.S. Postal Service issues about 30 stamps each year, Ms. Brennan said, and stamps with “animals, flowers and LOVE sell very well.” They also recently announced a set of stamps that will feature “Star Trek and NASA missions.

Past animal stamps have included the Adopt a Shelter Pet series in 2009, which were promoted by actress-comedian-talk show host Ellen DeGeneres. Popular demand led to a second lssue, Ms. Brennan said.

Other animal postage stamps include Spay and Neuter in 2002, American Cats in 1988, American Dogs in 1984 and Puppy and Kitten in 1982.

A German shepherd dog in harness led a vision-impaired man on the 15-cent stamp, Seeing For Me, issued in 1979.

The latest round of animal stamps feature 20 existing photographs shot against white backgrounds by Eric Isselee.

The Belgian photographer has shot more than 10,000 photos of over 450 animal species, starting in 2005 with his Life on White project — animals photographed against plain white backgrounds. His initial subjects were endangered species in Africa.

Some of the sales of his animal portraits have been used to help organizations and sanctuaries that help endangered species.

“The goal was to capture the essence of each animal,” said art director Derry Noyes, who has been designing stamps for the USPS for 30 years. “There’s no need for special effects. The animals speak for themselves. I love the variety of shapes, colors, textures and facial expressions.”

Forever stamps are always equal in value to first-class mail, one-ounce price, which is currently 49 cents.

Linda Wilson Fuoco: or 412-263-1953.