U.S. #4973 OR U.S. #4973a
2014 & 2015 Ferns (with Microprinting): Soft Shield Fern
Value: 49¢ 1-ounce First-class rate (Forever)
Issue Date: March 27, 2015
First Day City:
Kansas City, MO
Type of Stamp: Definitive
Printed by: Banknote Corporation of America/SSP
Printing Method: Offset, Microprint
Formats: Coil of 3,000 (2015) OR Coil of 10,000 (2014)
Quantities Printed: 45,000,000 (Coil of 3,000) OR 100,000,000 (Coil of 10,000)
**Please Note: When you order this 2015 Soft Shield Fern stamp, you may receive US #4973 (from the coils of 3,000 with "2015" at the bottom of the stamp) OR #4973a (from the coils of 10,000 with "2014" at the bottom of the stamp).**
The soft shield fern, with its feathery, dark green fronds, flourishes in cool, temperate climates. It is common in Ireland and southwestern Britain.
Prior to the 19th century, fascination with ferns was uncommon in the British Isles. Exotic ferns brought from afar could not survive to be reproduced until the introduction of portable greenhouses, known as Wardian cases. This invention safely transported and introduced many foreign ferns to Britain, creating new interest in the plants. This, along with the publication of A History of British Ferns by Edward Newman, provoked a fern craze that lasted 50 years.
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 Theater.