Cherry Blossom Centennial Postage Stamp
posted: March 19, 2012

On Saturday March 24th, I’ll be in Washington DC for the First Day of Issue Ceremony for The Cherry Blossom Centennial postage stamp. In 1912 a gift of 3,000 cherry blossom trees was given to DC by Tokyo, Japan, the trees have survived the test of time and serve as a reminder of international friendship, blooming every spring the trees are also a symbol of the fleeting nature of time, and the fragility of life.
The legendary art director, Phil Jordan asked me to work on this design, and the stamp really designed itself. The format is “se-tenant,” a design that runs an image over two stamps, and it seemed like the obvious solution was a panorama of the DC tidal basin ringed with trees in bloom. I did some research into past stamps and found a nice series from the 1960s called Beautification of America, and felt that a classic approach like that would be best. My job was to design a modern, clean addition to this tradition.
There’s no shortage of artwork that depicts the trees in full bloom. Each year there’s an official poster for the Cherry Blossom Festival, (this year it’s done by one of my earliest art heroes, Peter Max) and the challenge was to come up with a fresh image.
I have a warm spot in my heart for DC, because my daughter, Alex, did her under-grad at George Washington University, and is now in her second year at GW Law. It’ll be great to have her at the ceremony on Saturday, and I’m looking forward to meeting the philatelic enthusiasts who come out for these events.
1960s Beautification of America stamps...

My thumbnail sketch, the idea for a banner at the bottom was dropped...

A small colored pencil sketch...

Full-size pencil drawing...

Digital outline done in Illustrator...

Detail for Sockwell...

Pane of 20, the banner was brought back as a header for the sheet. The print run is only 100 million, so order your stamps soon...

Noah Woods March 19, 2012
Truly a stunning achievement, Paul. Congratulations on a gorgeous creation.
Dennis Bolt March 19, 2012
Great looking-I remember when you posted these last year? Can't wait. Are these 44cent or Forever stamps? You have two different "finished" looking files. I need some new stamps and these are what I'm getting! (my spam word was "newtkite" lol)
Douglas Fraser March 19, 2012
Beautiful process posting. Definitely an elegant horizontal quality in the final. The elliptical feel of the pool's curve is a wonderful shape.
Paul Rogers March 19, 2012
Thanks friends. Dennis - these are issued as Forever stamps as all first-class stamps are now. The 44 is from an older file before the changeover.
josh cochran March 22, 2012
really love this!
Jeffrey Smith March 25, 2012
Hey Paul, Beautiful stamps... great color, design and composition. Congratulations.
Katherine Streeter March 25, 2012
these are so lovely!!!
Ron Sanchez April 14, 2012
Gorgeous design! I always go check them out since I live in DC. I would love to get a poster of this, are any available? thx.
Paul Rogers April 14, 2012
Thanks Ron. The USPS owns the copyright to stamp images, and they make prints of popular stamps from time to time. You could try contacting them on Facebook or on their blog
Andrew Drazdik Jr May 20, 2014
Paul Rogers tribute to the Japan United States friendship is a great way to acknowledge our mutual agreement of peace and respect for each other sovereignty and people. We the American people should cherish this tribute and the actual nature of peace that it stands in peace, prosperity, and way of life.
Vicky September 10, 2016
How much were these stamps worth back in 2012? 626 564 8728