CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Clay County's Golden Delicious Apple Festival got an early gift for its upcoming 40th year with the announcement that its centerpiece fruit now appears on a U.S. Postal Service stamp.
The Golden Delicious apple, also the official state fruit, is one of four apple varieties to appear on special 33-cent postcard stamps issued by the postal service.
Four apples were selected for the series — the Golden Delicious; the Northern Spy, a baking variety first discovered around 1800 in Rochester, N.Y.; the Baldwin, a winter apple thought to be native to Massachusetts; and the Granny Smith, the tart and crunchy green apple believed to have originated in Australia in the late 1860s.
The Golden Delicious apple was found in 1905 on the Mullins family farm in Clay County, W.Va. Its sweet flavor quickly made it a popular variety, and it now is grown around the world. It became the official state apple in 1995.
Clay County held its first Golden Delicious Apple Festival in 1972, and its president, Terri Allen, was excited to hear news of the stamp as organizers begin planning the 40th festival, scheduled for Sept. 19-22 in Clay.
"I am just tickled," Allen said. "I did not know they were doing that."
Allen added that she would love to see the postal service plan a special event during the festival.
Rather than photographs, the stamps have an art print look to them. The originals were illustrated with pen and ink and watercolor with some computer-aided additions. They were designed by Derry Noyes of Washington, D.C., and completed by John Burgoyne of West Barnstable, Mass.
"We wanted to come up with an attractive, colorful set of stamps for mailing postcards that would be used by consumers and small businesses," postal service spokesman Mark Saunders said of the series.
"We were impressed with the work of artist John Burgoyne. He's done work for Cook's Illustrated and other publications."
The stamps are available in panes of 20 or coils of 100 and may be purchased at local post offices, online at usps.com/stamps or by phone at 800-782-6724.
West Virginia will be honored with another stamp this year, Saunders added. This one will help commemorate the state's 150th anniversary. Its issue date has not been announced, but the stamp will be in the forever series and features a 2008 image by Tyler County photographer Roger Spencer showing an early morning view from the Highland Scenic Highway in Pocahontas County.