Breast Cancer Research Stamp - History and Description

History and Description

In 1996, the United States Postal Service Breast Cancer Awareness Stamp (the pink ribbon stamp at the then-current first class rate of 32 cents) was issued and did not sell well.

The Breast Cancer Research Stamp was the idea of Ernie Bodai, MD, a breast surgeon. Dr. Bodai is a Kaiser Permanente surgeon who performs lumpectomies and mastectomies on women with breast cancer. Betsy Mullen is a breast cancer survivor and advocate, the Founder of WIN Against Breast Cancer and the Breast Buddy Breast Care Program. Dr. Bodai, Betsy Mullen and David Goodman spent their money and time lobbying for Congress' approval of the Breast Cancer Research Stamp. Dr. Bodai later began a nonprofit organization, Cure Breast Cancer Inc., to raise money to bring attention to the BCR Stamp and the breast cancer cause.

In 1995, in the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations, Treasury, Postal Subcommittee New York Congressman Michael Forbes attached language to the annual spending bill mandating a Breast Cancer Research Stamp be created by the United States Postal Service (USPS). Proceeds above the cost of the semipostal (fundraising) stamp were to be dedicated to breast cancer research.

In 1998, United States Senators Dianne Feinstein, Alfonse D'Amato, and Lauch Faircloth and Congressman Vic Fazio sponsored legislation in the United States Congress to create a stamp where a portion of the proceeds of sale would go toward breast cancer research, creating the Breast Cancer Research Stamp. The legislation mandated that 70% of funds raised would go to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and 30% would go to the Breast Cancer Research Program of the Department of Defense (DOD).

Art director Ethel Kessler, of Bethesda, Maryland, herself a breast cancer survivor, was asked by the USPS to design the new stamp. Kessler contacted illustrator Whitney Sherman of Baltimore to create the artwork for the stamp. Directing the project, with feedback from a postal design advisory board, Kessler discussed themes with Sherman that the stamp should depict, such as strength and courage, and to show an ethnically-vague woman. It was Sherman who came up with the solution of using Artemis, the Greek goddess of the hunt, protector of women, to symbolize the fight against breast cancer. The female hunter is depicted reaching for an arrow, to symbolize that she protects women from harm and to mimic the position women take during a breast exam. Sherman's illustration is a black line drawing of the female figure on a vibrant, abstract color field, done in pastel, which gives the stamp its optimistic or uplifting feel. Typographically, Kessler featured the phrases, "Fund the Fight" and "Find a Cure" outlining where the right breast should be.

On July 29, 1998, the Breast Cancer Research Stamp was issued at a White House event hosted by the First Lady Hillary Clinton with Postmaster General William Henderson, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Congressman Vic Fazio and Betsy Mullen.

The stamp originally cost 40 cents; a regular first-class stamp cost 34 cents at that time. 70 percent of funds raised are donated to the National Cancer Institute and 30 percent to the Breast Cancer Research Program of the Department of Defense. As of May 2006, US$35.2 million had been donated to the NCI and the Department of Defense had collected US$15.1 million.

United States Senators Dianne Feinstein, Alfonse D'Amato and New York Congressman Vic Fazio who championed the Breast Cancer Research Stamp in Congress, calls the reauthorization of the BCR Stamp "good news in the fight against breast cancer." Originally set for a limited run, its release was extended numerous times by acts of the U.S. Congress with the most recent reauthorization legislation going through December 31, 2015.

Since the Breast Cancer Research Stamp first went on sale on July 29, 1998 through November 2011, the United States Postal Service has sold more than 924 million stamps, raising approximately $72 million for breast cancer research at the NIH and DoD. The Breast Cancer Research Stamp currently costs 55 cents and is deemed valid as a 44-cent first-class stamp. The additional 11 cents charged for each semipostal (fundraising) stamp is directed to research programs at the National Institutes of Health, which receives 70 percent of the net proceeds, and the Department of Defense breast cancer research programs, which receive the remaining 30 percent of the net proceeds.

The Breast Cancer Research Stamp is offered through the United States Postal Service as an alternative to a first-class postage stamp. Purchasing the stamp is a convenient and voluntary way to contribute to the fight against breast cancer. Congress passed "The Stamp Out Breast Cancer Act of 1997" and the BCR Stamp was first issued on July 29, 1998, becoming the country’s first fundraising stamp. Congress has reauthorized the sale of the stamp through December 31, 2015.

Read more about this topic:  Breast Cancer Research Stamp

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