1997 314 Clipper – Classic American Aircraft
- Honors the 314 Clipper aircraft on semi-jumbo stamp
- The back of the stamp includes information about the aircraft pictured in the design
- Part of the Classic American Aircraft set, the 5th set in the Classic Collections stamp series
32¢, First Class Mail Rate
First Day of Issue:
July 19, 1997
First Day City:
Printed for Stamp Venturers at J.W. Fergusson and Sons, Richmond, Virginia
Panes of 20 (Horizontal, 4 across, 5 down)
10.2 (APS Rotary Perforator)
Large tagging block over all 20 stamps. The tagging block extends only to the outer edge of the vignette of the 16 stamps bordering the pane.
Why the stamp was issued:
To celebrate the iconic and important 314 Clipper aircraft.
About the stamp design:
Like the others in the set, this stamp pictures artwork (oil painting on Masonite) by William S. Phillips of Ashland, Oregon. Phillips made every design unique, so no two aircraft appear in the exact same position or in front of the same background . This was done to prevent the stamps from looking too similar and stagnant. Phillips used many reference books, photographs, and even model planes he built himself and had his wife hold at different angles to ensure his paintings were as accurate as possible.
USPS special consultant Walter Boyne (retired US Ari Force colonel and first director of the National Air and Space Museum, founder of Air and Space
magazine, and more) was chosen to develop a list of aircraft models to choose from. This is the list of criteria Boyne used to make his decisions:
“1) Importance to aviation history. Not all aircraft are equally important to aviation history, but all are of some enduring importance.
2) Contribution to technology. In a similar way, not all the selections contributed equally to technology, but most of them made significant contributions. In some cases, the contributions represented a first…. In other instances, the contribution was a combination of technological advances […] rather than a breakthrough in one particular area.
3) Public perception. In some instances, an aircraft, over time, by reasons of its performance, its appearance, or some other factor, would come to be recognized as the most memorable aircraft in its class.
4) Aesthetic appeal. Not all the aircraft selected could be called beautiful… Yet all have a tangible aesthetic appeal, and some are simply quite beautiful as sculptural art, at rest or in flight. A case could be made for some aircraft that they are so unaesthetic in appearance as to have a crude beauty…
5) A standard of excellence. Some of the aircraft were so dominant in their field that even if they lacked some of the above criteria – which they do not! – they would still have had to be selected.
6) A distinctive, evocative appearance. While this might be considered a subset of aesthetic appeal, it is different in that some aircraft simply call forth the era in which they appeared because of their distinctive appearance.
There are hundreds of other worthy contenders, and strong arguments might be made for them using the above criteria,” Boyne said, “But the selected aircraft have, on balance a unique combination of these qualities that make them truly, Classic American Aircraft.”
Special design details:
Phillips’s airplane paintings (generally oil on Masonite) are highly detailed and have been featured in many art books and limited-edition prints. Phillips was also an Air Force veteran of the Vietnam War and traveled to the Persian Gulf as a Navy combat artist in 1988 to paint US aircraft and ships.
Art director Phil Jordan said “I wanted someone who flew, and Bill, like myself, is a recreational pilot… He has an ability to paint aircraft so they look as if they actually are in the air. They have a wonderful feeling to them. A lot of aviation artists are able to paint every rivet, every blade of grass, every desert grain of sand, but when you add it all up it’s very static and hard-edged. Bill’s work is very fluid and loose.”
First Day City:
The Classic American Aircraft stamps were dedicated at a ceremony at the US Air and Trade Show at Dayton International Airport. Dayton was home to the Wright brothers, the men who flew the first heavier-than-air craft in 1903.
About the Classic Collections Series:
The Classic Collections series began in 1994 with the Legends of the West issue. The idea originated from Carl Burcham, manager of stamp and product marketing for USPS at the time. Each Classic Collections set consists of a pane of 20 different semi-jumbo stamps with descriptive selvage at the top (header) and informational text on the back of each stamp beneath the gum. The stamps are “broadly defined, Americana-themed subjects.”
The first four Classic Collections sets were accompanied by matching sets of picture postal cards showcasing the stamp designs. However, none were created for the Classic American Aircraft set.
History the stamp represents:
In most mind, Pan American Airlines and “Clipper” are synonymous. Though not the first American international airline, Pan Am was perhaps the most successful, and was certainly a leader in the industry.
The company got its start in 1927, flying mail between Key West, Florida, and Havana, Cuba. Scheduled passenger service followed the next year. And by 1929, with Charles Lindbergh’s help, it had mapped out a 12,000-mile route between North, South, and Central America.
By 1936, Pan Am was ready to develop its transoceanic service. Boeing was recruited to build a comfortable 74-passenger airplane with a range of 3,500 miles – a monumental request. Although Boeing considered declining the offer, instead it took the XB-15 high-wing – predecessor of the Flying Fortress – and added a luxurious double-decker hull. In order to lift the craft, crew, and payload, it installed four of the most powerful engines available – Wright Twin Cyclone 14-cylinder engines.
The six glamorous 314 Clippers that began service in 1939 flew only a few short years, but garnered many firsts. Not only did they fly the first transpacific flight in 1936, but also the first transatlantic flight in 1939, and the first round-the-world flight in 1947.