2014 49¢ Fortune’s Holly
The Fortune’s Holly is one of five Ferns stamps issued in coils of 10,000 for business users. This was the first time large coils were issued as forever stamps. Coils with the same fern design were released in January 2014 with a 49¢ denomination.
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.
There are five species pictured on the fern stamps – autumn, Goldie’s wood, soft shield, Fortune’s holly, and painted ferns. Photographer Cindy Dyer captured the images at Green Spring Gardens in Lincolnia, Virginia, and Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, Virginia. The white background on the stamps highlights the details of each fern.
49¢ Fern, issued to satisfy the first-class mail rate
Issue Date: March 6, 2014
City: Kansas City, MO (no First Day of Issue ceremony)
Printed By: CCL Label Inc.
Printing Method: Photogravure
Perforations: Serpentine Die Cut 11 Vertical