2015 49¢ Fortune’s Holly
The Fortune’s Holly is one of five Ferns stamps issued in coils of 10,000 for business users. Though released in 2015, it has a 2014 date in the lower left corner. The same design had been released in 2014.
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. 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¢ Ferns, issued to satisfy the first-class mail rate
Issue Date: March 27, 2015
City: Kansas City, MO (no First Day of Issue Ceremony)
Printed By: Banknote Corporation of America for Sennett Security Products
Printing Method: Lithographed in sheets of 250
Perforations: Serpentine Die Cut 11 vertical