|Date of Issue||July 13, 2013|
First-Class Forever Commemorative
|Perforation or Dimension||.98 x 1.56 in./24.89 x 39.62 mm|
|Series||New England Coastal Lighthouses|
|Series Time Span||2013|
|Issue Location||Portland, ME 04101; New Castle, NH 03854; Narragansett, RI 02883; New London, CT 06320; & Boston, MA 02205|
|Postal Administration||United States|
Maine’s oldest lighthouse, Portland Head was established in 1791. The construction of the tower was among the first acts of the Lighthouse Establishment, a federal agency created in 1789. The original rubblestone lighthouse still stands and looks much as it did in the late 1800s. The 80-foot lighthouse had two types of Fresnel lenses during its history, a second-order and a fourth-order.
A Fresnel lens makes it possible to project a relatively low power light source to be seen at great distances. Rated in numerical orders, the first order Fresnel lens was one of the largest and enabled the light from a lighthouse to be seen more than 20 miles away. Depending on the light pattern projected, called the “light signature,” a mariner could navigate by lighthouses. Mainers carried regional light lists to identify lighthouses by the flash pattern such as the time between flashes. Similarly, during fair weather and daylight conditions, a mariner could also navigate by distinct patterns or colors painted on a lighthouse, known as “day marks.”
The Portland Head lighthouse was automated in 1989, and a modern DCB-224 optic (high powered rotating spotlight) installed. A beautiful Victorian keepers’ duplex, built on the station in 1891, now houses the Museum at Portland Head Light. The lighthouse has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1973 and is owned and managed by the Town of Cape Elizabeth, ME.
The tower and the keepers' house together are considered one of the most beautiful stations in the U.S., and they are among the most frequently photographed subjects in Maine.
On July 13, 2013, in Portland, Maine; New Castle, New Hampshire; Narragansett, Rhode Island; New London, Connecticut, and Boston, Massachusetts, the Postal Service™ will issue the New England Coastal Lighthouses (Forever® priced at 46 cents) commemorative First-Class Mail® stamps in five designs in a pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA) pane of 20 stamps. The stamps will go on sale nationwide July 13, 2013.
There’s something about lighthouses. They fascinate us; they enchant us; they draw us in. Utilitarian yet majestic, these structures achieve a beauty and romance that reach far beyond their practical natures. Recognizing our love affair with these lonely sentinels, the U.S. Postal Service has released a series of stamps celebrating our nation’s lighthouses.
New England Coastal Lighthouses features five lighthouses: Portland Head, Cape Elizabeth, Maine; Portsmouth Harbor, New Castle, New Hampshire; Point Judith, Narragansett, Rhode Island; New London Harbor, New London, Connecticut; and Boston Harbor, Boston, Massachusetts. Each stamp shows a close-up view of one of the five lighthouses that captures not only the down-to-earth aspect of the tower but also the mysterious qualities that compel us to come closer.
These five lighthouses are among the oldest in the U.S., and each is on the National Register of Historic Places. Boston Harbor Light is also a National Historic Landmark.
Howard Koslow created original paintings for New England Coastal Lighthouses stamp art—and for the entire lighthouse series. Howard E. Paine and Greg Breeding served as art directors.
The New England Coastal Lighthouses stamps are being issued as Forever® stamps.