2014 49¢ Soft Shield
The Soft Shield 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. #4875).
The soft shield fern, with its feathery, dark-green fronds, flourishes in cool, temperate climates. It is common in Ireland and southwestern Britain.
Pteridomania, or “fern fever,” gripped much of Great Britain during the Victorian era. The fad was not just among botanists, but reached the common household as well. Ferns, including the locally abundant soft shield fern, were available in nature and easy to grow at home, making them a feasible hobby for everyone.
Fern nurseries sprang up around the country and “hunting” ferns became a common leisure activity. Leafy designs invaded art and architecture, adorning everything from pottery to paper. A fernery, or fern garden, was even planted in the orchestra pit at the London Prince of Wales Theatre.
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