2014 49¢ Fortune’s Holly
The Fortune’s Holly is one of five Ferns stamps issued in coils of 3,000 and 10,000 for business users. The same design was released a few months later as a Forever stamp (U.S. #4874).
Thick and glossy in appearance, Fortune’s holly fern fronds generally resemble holly leaves, thus its name. However, even though the most-recognized holly variety – associated with Western winter holidays – is native to Northern Europe, the holly fern comes from Southeast Asia.
Fortune’s holly fern was first introduced to Europe in the mid-19th century by Scottish botanist Robert Fortune. The 1842 Treaty of Nanjing opened China’s borders to exploration by Westerners, and Fortune was sent by the British government to collect new plant samples for study. However, some believe that England, desiring freedom from China’s tea-trade monopoly, actually sent Fortune to steal the Chinese secrets of tea production in one of the earliest-known cases of industrial espionage.
At the time, China permitted only restricted exploration and Fortune often disguised himself as a Chinese merchant in order to travel beyond the treaty port areas. Fortune eventually managed to smuggle tea plants out of China to the first tea plantations in India.
In addition to being credited with establishing the British tea industry, Fortune also managed to introduce over 120 species of plants to the West, one of which was Fortune’s holly fern.
The design of each fern stamp comes from a close-up photograph of a different species. There are five species pictured – autumn, Goldie’s wood, soft shield, Fortune’s holly, and painted ferns. The images were from photographer Cindy Dyer.
Value: 49¢ First-class rate
Issue Date: January 27, 2014
City: Kansas City, MO (no First Day ceremony)
Type of Stamp: Definitive
Printed By: CCL Label Inc.
Printing Method: Photogravure
Perforations: Serpentine Die Cut 11 Vertical
Quantity Printed: 9,000,000