WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Crops of the Americas series -- five postage stamps depicting corn, chili peppers, beans, squashes and sunflowers -- was dedicated yesterday at the American Stamp Dealers Association's Postage Stamp Mega Event at New York City's Madison Square Garden.

These crops have been cultivated in the Americas for centuries and are popular and important parts of today's world food supply. They can be grown in a variety of soils and climates, they develop quickly and they bear heavy yields.

"We understand the influence American plants have on cuisines around the world," said Charles E. Bravo, the senior vice president of the U.S. Postal Service who dedicated the stamps. "These stamps are a beautiful tribute to those plants and a great way to celebrate the rich history of our nation."

Joining Bravo for the ceremony were Dave Failor, executive director, Stamp Services, U.S. Postal Service; Eric Jackson, president, American Stamp Dealers Association; and Steve Buchanan, stamp artist.

Buchanan, of Winstead, Conn., created each of the five stamp designs using as reference slide photographs made by his wife, Rita Buchanan, a consultant for the stamp project. The slides document Rita Buchanan's research in the late 1970s on indigenous agricultural methods in the southwestern United States. The definitive stamps will be issued in three formats: A vending booklet of 20, a double-sided convertible booklet of 20 and a coil of 100.

To see the Crops of the Americas and other stamp designs, go to the Postal Service's online store and click on "For Education" then on "Forthcoming Issues." Crops of Americas can also be found under "For Education" and then "Stamp Release Archive," selecting 2006 and Forthcoming.

Current U.S. stamps, as well as a free comprehensive catalog, are available by toll-free phone order at 1-800-STAMP-24. A selection of stamps and other philatelic items are also available at the online Postal Store. In addition, custom-framed prints of original stamp art are available at www.postalartgallery.com.

Since 1775, the Postal Service and its predecessor, the Post Office Department, has connected friends, families, neighbors and businesses by mail. It is an independent federal agency that visits 144 million homes and businesses every day, six days a week and is the only service provider delivering to every address in the nation. The Postal Service delivers more than half of the world's mail volume -- some 212 billion letters, advertisements, periodicals and packages a year -- and serves seven and a half million customers each day at its 37,000 retail locations nationwide. Its Web site, usps.com, attracts more than 21 million visitors each month.

SOURCE: U.S. Postal Service via PR Newswire