Earlier this week, the U.S. Postal Service announced it will issue its forthcoming Eastern Tailed-Blue butterfly stamp as a 68-cent non-machineable stamp.
It will be for use on irregularly sized envelopes, such as square greeting cards, invitations and announcements. More details, including the date of issue, will be released soon.
U.S. artist Tom Engeman created the stamp’s design using images of preserved butterflies as a starting point. The result is a highly stylized, simplified image of an Eastern Tailed-Blue rather than an exact replica.
The Eastern Tailed-Blue butterfly (Cupido comyntas) is named for the iridescent blue colour of its upper wing surface—more vivid in the male—and for the short, thread-like tail on each hind wing. Females are often slate grey, sometimes with vivid blue coloration close to the body. This 2016 stamp depicts a first-generation male, which displays the species’ brightest coloration. Each year sees two or more generations, the latter being less colourful.
The square format of the stamp was developed in collaboration with the greeting card industry specifically for oversized or square envelopes. These envelopes are unable to pass through the USPS’ automated processing system and have to be hand-cancelled. The envelopes are charged a non-machineable surcharge even if they weigh less than one ounce. Greeting card envelopes printed with a silhouette of a butterfly indicate the need for additional postage (or the use of a butterfly stamp). Any non-machineable envelope—like oddly-shaped or vertical envelopes, as well as lumpy envelopes, rigid envelopes and mail with clasps, ribbons and buttons—may use this stamp.
These non-machineable surcharge stamps will be issued in panes of 20. The words “NON-MACHINEABLE SURCHARGE” indicate its usage value. Like a U.S. Forever stamp, it will always be valid for the rate printed on it.