Arago: Seashells Issue

Seashells Issue

A stamp booklet featuring five seashells common to the United States was issued April 4, 1985, in Boston, Massachusetts. Intended for over-the-counter sales, each booklet contained two panes of ten stamps at the twenty-two cent first-class postage rate. Each pane featured in descending order a pair of the following five shell designs:

—Frilled Dogwinkle (Nucella lamellosa) (Gmelin), a univalve shell common to the west coast from Alaska to California

—Reticulated Helmet (Cypraecassis testiculus) (Linne'), a univalve shell which could be found along the coast from Texas to Brazil

—New England Neptune (Neptune

cemcostata) (Say), a bivalve shell that could be found along the coast from Canada to Massachusetts

—Calico Scallop (Argopecten gi

(Linne'), a bivalve shell that could be found along the coast from Carolina to Texas

—Lightning Whelk (Busycon contra

(Conrad), a univalve shell which had the same geographical boundaries as the Calico scallop

Shells can be found in every ocean from the polar regions to the tropics, and every major area of the world has some unique to its geographical boundaries. A shell actually is a hard, limy exoskeleton providing a protective covering for a mollusk. The formation of variously colored and shaped shells is influenced by the environmental conditions, particularly water temperature and degree of salinity. Today there are some 1,000,000 living species of mollusks divided equally between sea and fresh water types.

The front of the booklet cover featured an innovative design of shells in yellow, magenta, and cyan. All wording and the Postal Service logo were printed in dark blue. The back of the cover featured a reproduction of a souvenir page in dark brown and souvenir page information in dark blue.

For the first time, a floating design was featured on the front cover of a stamp booklet. A photograph of a grouping of twenty-five different shells was used to create the booklet design. Each 1.74 x 3.18 inch booklet depicted a portion of the design and showed four or five of the shells. The remainder of the design on the front cover and the illustration on the back cover were fixed.

The stamp designer and modeler was Peter Cocci of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing; typographer and art director was Bradbury Thompson; engravers were Thomas Hipschen (Frilled Dogwinkle and Lightning Whelk vignettes); Joseph S. Creamer, Jr. (New England Neptune vignette); Gary Chaconas (Reticulated Helmet vignette); John S. Wallace (Calico Scallop vignette); Robert G. Culin, Sr. (lettering and numerals). The intaglio process was used.


Postal Bulletin (March 7, 1985).

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