Recently, while reorganizing my desk, I discovered an abundance of stamps.  More stamps, perhaps, than I will ever use.  Among my favorites – Vanishing Species, Songbirds, Edward Hopper Sailboats, American Gardens, and others.   

Now I have a new favorite, issued by the USPS last month. These stamps feature spectacular images by American photographer Ansel Adams (1902 – 1984).  Half Dome in Yosemite, the Sierra foothills, and the Golden Gate Bridge are among the stunning images.

A year ago, 100 photos by Ansel Adams were on view in an exhibition at the de Young Museum, San Francisco.  A vista of San Francisco’s Golden Gate, taken before the iconic bridge was built, was one of the images in the exhibition.

On May 15, the USPS issued a series of 16 stamps featuring images by Ansel Adams in a ceremony in Yosemite.   One image, “The Golden Gate and Bridge from Baker Beach” (c. 1953), depicts the same scene, taken after the bridge was built.   This photo was shot from the bluff above the beach, where Ansel Adams lived in the house built in 1903 by his father. 

I had the privilege of visiting this beautiful house in the West Clay Park neighborhood, near Sea Cliff, invited by the then owner, the late Peter Winkelstein.  Peter was one of the architects of the San Francisco Main Library, where I worked for over two decades.  He and his wife Barbara were talented, artistic people who contributed much to the well-being of San Francisco through their civic work.

Many of the Ansel Adams photographs featured on the stamps were shot in the high Sierras and the American Southwest. 

My one and only trip to the high Sierras, taken when I was a high school senior, was a program of the Sierra Club.  There were four of us young women from my home town.  Two of them were daughters of acclaimed physicists who taught at the University of California, Berkeley, one of whom was a Nobel Prize winner.    

A day’s hike usually covered a range of 6– 10 miles, but we only had to carry a knapsack with water and lunch (that is what we called backpacks back in the day).  Our food, sleeping bags, clothes and personal items were carried in duffel bags, transported by mules from site to site.  There were also day long layovers, where hikers could rest or take day hikes to take in the scenery.

As teenagers, we were the first to hit the trail in the morning, hiking steadily and only stopping for lunch, before reaching the day’s destinations.   In the evenings, we gathered with other teenagers, often singing along to folk songs played on the guitar.

At one of the campgrounds, the official Sierra Club photographer took a picture of the four of us, sitting on a large flat rock.  He sent a nice note to me, along with a print of the unsigned photo.  

The mother of one of my friends on the trip told me that he was a famous photographer.  As a 16-year old, this unfortunately meant little to me, and I failed to capture and remember his name.  For many years, I wondered (and hoped) it had been Ansel Adams.

The exhibition at the de Young cleared the record on this.  Ansel Adams was no longer the official Sierra Club photographer at the time of this trip.  To this day, I regret that I do not know the identity of that older, grey-bearded photographer with the fancy camera, tripod and other equipment.

Ansel Adams had a fascinating life.  As a young man, his trips to the Sierras required daring, strength, risk-taking, and patience.  He left a beautiful legacy to the breathtaking views in the mountains as well as the starker but equally beautiful images of the Southwest.

Ansel Adams Forever stamps are available at local post offices and online through  The photos featured on the Ansel Adams stamps bring back many happy memories of my long-ago hike in the high country.   I was first in line to add these images to my abundance of stamps!

Not a fan of black and white photography?  The USPS has other new stamp offerings this year.  Baseball fans, be alert for the Hank Aaron stamps, to be released on July 31.  Current 2024 releases: Sea Turtles, Manatees, Horses, Shaker design, and many others, all of which are widely available.

 Reminder:  the price of Forever and postcard stamps goes up on July 14, so stock up on one or more of these beautiful stamps now.  An abundance of stamps and stamp images is a good thing when it comes to personalizing your letters and cards.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. We need to see the photo of you on the rock as a teenager, Marcia!

    1. Somewhere in a box in the garage!

  2. Marcia, I too love my stamps. But how do you deal with that mail (IRS comes to mind) for which you don’t want a loved stamp? I don’t have boring, just functional, unsentimental stamps!

    1. Sometimes I like something less as time goes by!

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