"Since 1973, the Love stamp has been a popular addition to cards and letters mailed to friends and loved ones all year long and particularly to celebrate Valentine's Day," said David Failor, executive director of Stamp Services for the Postal Service. "In 2004, the candy hearts -- those little tokens of affection -- will help spread good cheer on millions of letters mailed in virtually every town across America."
To help celebrate the issuance of the 2004 Love stamp, NECCO will manufacture a special run of candy hearts with the I LOVE YOU message included in boxes with perennial favorites such as "Be Mine," "Marry Me" and "Cutie Pie."
To meet demand for its Sweethearts, NECCO produces approximately 8 billion hearts per year at three manufacturing facilities in the United States. The entire production -- roughly 100,000 pounds a day -- sells out in just six weeks.
For the 2004 Love stamp design, artist Michael Osborne of San Francisco, Calif., illustrated two hearts -- one yellow, in the foreground, and one pink, slightly behind it -- and added in red the letter "I" and a heart symbol on the yellow candy and the word "YOU" on the pink candy to spell out "I love you." Osborne also illustrated the two colorful 2002 Love stamps, whose designs featured stylized block letters and a heart-design "V" spelling the word "LOVE."
The first Love stamp was issued by the Postal Service in 1973 with a denomination of 8 cents and an iconic design by pop artist Robert Indiana. Since that time, Love stamps have featured a wide range of subjects, including flowers, animals, cherubs and love letters as well as abstract designs.