Annapolis artist Stephen Hustvedt said he has gained a modest recognition for his multicolored poster of sailing spinakers catching the wind or other marine scenes.
But he expects that to change soon when 160 million copies of his watercolor of the Annapolis waterfront will be circulated around the country.
On Feb. 15, the Postal Service will release a 22-cent commemorative stamp designed by Hustvedt honoring the 200th anniversary of Maryland statehood, part of a series of stamps honoring the 13 original states. Hustvedt's stamp, the first he has designed for the Postal Service, will be the seventh in the series.
It will be formally issued during a Monday evening joint session of the Maryland legislature that is expected to draw a host of state officials as well as stamp collectors to the Maryland State House.
Maryland has not had a stamp issued in its honor since 1934, so the event promises to be as big an event for collectors as Hustvedt, 62, said his selection as the artist was for him.
Actually, Hustvedt said he had heard two years ago that the Postal Service was planning to issue a stamp honoring skipjacks, the sail-powered boats that still work the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. He submitted several of his ideas, but nothing came of it.
Then, last year, long after he assumed his idea had been forgotten, he was contacted about doing the statehood stamp. "Lo and behold, there are still some government agencies whose files still work," Hustvedt said.
The Postal Service's Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee, which helps select stamp designs, seemed set on a stamp featuring the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. "The bridge doesn't have any historical significance," Hustvedt protested.
Hustvedt said he had a better idea: the skipjack.
He worked up seven designs for the stamp, most of which were variations on the Annapolis waterfront or the bay's picturesque Thomas Point Lighthouse. Both had skipjacks. "I was pleased with either scene," he said.
The committee was won over, and the stamp will show one of Hustvedt's favorites, the Clarence Crockett, plying the Severn River. In the background is the Annapolis skyline, featuring the dome of the State House and the spire of St. Anne's Church.
Built in 1908 in a Deep Creek, Va., yard, the Crockett, Maryland skipjack No. 48, is based in Cambridge Creek and is still working, which gives it a distinction over people honored on U.S. stamps. They can't be pictured on a stamp until 10 years after their deaths.
The stamp will go on sale the morning of Feb. 15 at the State House, but it will not be formally dedicated until the evening session of the legislature. Gov. William Donald Schaefer and Senior Assistant Postmaster General Mitchell H. Gordon, a Bethesda resident, will be the featured speakers.
Hustvedt, a native of the District who is now an artist in residence at Maryland Hall, will be on hand to autograph copies of the stamp, which will be printed in sheets of 50. Special cancellations, marking the first day of issue, will also be available all day in the capitol. The next day, it will go on sale across the country.
While it is Hustvedt's first stamp, it may not be his last. The design fee, $3,000, is not overwhelming for most artists, but Hustvedt said he got so much satisfaction out of the assignment, he submitted another idea to the Postal Service.
"It would be nice to honor a little friend who doesn't receive much recognition," said Hustvedt, who turned in a copy of a painting he did on various designs he has collected over the years.
His friend: the fire hydrant.
Individuals who wish a first-day cancellation of the Maryland stamp and who supply their own stamps can send up to 50 addressed envelopes by March 17 to: Customer-Affixed Envelopes, Statehood Stamp, Postmaster, Annapolis, Md. 21401-9991.
Individuals who wish the Postal Service to affix the stamps should mail their requests with payment for the stamps by personal check to Statehood Stamp, Postmaster, Annapolis, Md. 21401-9992.