Lady Bird Johnson postage stamps from 1966 and 1969

vintage-reissue-stamp-plant-for-beautiful-streetsWe love these Lady Bird Johnson centennial stamps, recently issued by the U.S. Postal Service. The set includes five stamps adapted from the 1966 and 1969 originals, which were issued as part of the First Lady’s “Plant for a More Beautiful America” campaign. Aren’t the graphics beautiful?  Thanks to reader Patrick for this tip.

Lady-Bird-Johnson-Centennial-stamps

With her 1960s campaign, Lady Bird Johnson urged citizens to reconnect to nature by using native plants and landscaping to elevate their back yards and public spaces — even highway medians. She also helped to pass several bills, such as the Highway Beautification Act of 1965.  The USPS’ collection includes five of the original stamp designs (adapted to accommodate today’s printing techniques). And, it includes a stamp featuring the official White House portrait of Mrs. Johnson, painted in 1968.

lady-bird-johnson-commemorative-portrait-stampAll about the special Lady Bird Johnson stamps:

Lady Bird Johnson awakened our country’s conscience to the importance of protecting our native plants and maintaining a sustainable and beautiful environment. Mrs. Johnson championed the Highway Beautification Act of 1965, often referred to as “Lady Bird’s Bill.” She remained committed to highway beautification after leaving the White House, supporting legislation that allocated federal funds for landscaping projects using native plants, flowers, and trees along the nation’s highways.

vintage-reissue-stamps-plant-for-beautiful-parksAfter returning to Texas, Mrs. Johnson continued her work for environmental and conservation causes. She led a campaign in her adopted hometown of Austin to create a trail by the city’s lake. The lake, beloved by city residents, was renamed in her honor after her death, something she was too modest to allow during her lifetime.

vintage-reissue-stamp-plant-for-beautiful-highwaysMrs. Johnson’s most lasting legacy was the creation of the National Wildflower Research Center. Founded on her 70th birthday, the center — now the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center — continues to be a national leader in research, education, and projects that encourage the use of wildflowers and native plants. She maintained an active and direct involvement with the center, giving it her considerable time, talent, and treasure until her death.

vintage-reissue-stamp-plant-for-beautiful-citiesFulfilling her deep personal beliefs, Mrs. Johnson strove throughout her life to “keep the beauty of the landscape as we remember it in our youth…and to leave this splendor for our grandchildren.” She inspired generations to see that one person, at any age, can make a difference and that young people and the environment hold our greatest hopes for tomorrow.

vintage-reissue-stamp-plant-for-beautiful-america-lady-bird-johnsonIn honor of Mrs. Johnson’s contributions, the U.S. Postal Service is issuing these six stamps — a new stamp which reproduces the official White House portrait of the First Lady painted in 1968, and adaptations of five stamps issued in the 1960s that encouraged people to participate in the President and Mrs. Johnson’s campaign “Plant for a More Beautiful America.” The five engraved stamps originally issued in 1966 and 1969 have been adapted for printing in offset lithography.

Original-LBJ-beautiful-cities-stamps-1960sAbove: A still shot of the original “Beautify” stamps — spotted in the original 1960s press conference video that we found and feature next:

This video clip above — from A+E Networks — shows an excerpt from the First Lady’s speech from the 1960s, when the stamps were first released.

For more information on the life and work of Lady Bird Johnson, visit ladybirdjohnson.org.

Special thanks to the USPS for providing us with the enlarged images of this lovely stamp collection so that we could enjoy the nostalgic detail.

Readers, do you go out of your way to use the vintage reissue stamps from the USPS?
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Comments

  1. JKaye says

    As a child in the1960s, I can remember hearing comedians and regular folks joking about Mrs Johnson’s conservation efforts, particularly the highway beautification act. It wasn’t considered a very serious subject by a lot of people. But I think she was very forward-thinking, and had a lot of impact. Also, I’ve often wondered if her push for conservation efforts might have indirectly kicked off the growth of home landscaping, by getting people more interested in stepping outdoors and becoming involved in their surroundings, even if it was just around their own property.

    • Steve H says

      JKaye, I think you’re right. Lady Bird was a visionary and she did encourage people to think more about their outdoor environment. In about 1967 she came here to Minneapolis to help dedicate the Nicollet Mall, a bus-pedestrian street downtown. It had a great 1960’s style with mod fountains and lampposts, and lots of planters filled with flowers. I love the designs of both the original and re-issued stamps. Amazing to think that you could mail a letter for 6 cents back then.

  2. Jonny says

    I have a beach towel from the mid 60’s that says “keep American Beautiful” on it and has a pin-up looking girl picking up trash on a beach, with a trash can that says “LBJ clean-up” on it.

    I figure this must have been a popular program if they were merchandizing it like that. I hung the towel up on my wall like it’s some kind of antique tapestry.

  3. Diane in CO says

    ….and we’re still fighting to get increased recognition of native plants and their importance in landscaping on both large-scale and small scale projects. It’s still an uphill fight to get the propagators and nurseries on this bandwagon, especially, I think, in The West where our native plants are not always our standard of beauty. We’ve forced Eastern and English models of landscaping onto an arid setting and are paying the price with water consumption.

    Lady Bird was ahead of her time with her progressive environmental efforts. I can’t wait to use the stamps – they’re beautiful and timely. Thanks for bringing them to our attention. Nice article!

  4. Mid Century/Mid TN Mom says

    Lady Bird was like a “Miss Rumphius” (a favorite Barbara Cooney children’s book) who worked hard to make our world more beautiful, one flower, one plant at a time. I believe that at certain times of year in Texas you can see the Texas Bluebonnet flowers for miles and miles. It must be a breathtaking sight in person … I’ve seen it in pictures. It is wonderful that her contributions are being brought to light again …

  5. Robin, NV says

    I love the Jefferson Monument stamp.

    My grandfather planted daffodils on the roadside all the way from his farm into town (about 3 miles). Every spring they still come up and they’re such a joy to see. I wonder if he was inspired by Lady Bird.

  6. JKM says

    Every spring, when I see the miles and miles of Texas highways awash in lush fields of Bluebonnets (our state flower), Indian Paint Brushes and other wildflowers, I think of Lady Bird and her tireless efforts to naturally beautify our country. Such a visionary. She was a Texas icon with an old traditional Texas/Southern accent (who sounded like so many of our grandmothers, mine at least) and was mourned when she passed away. I’ve never cried upon the death of a public figure but I did for Lady Bird.

  7. tammyCA says

    I’ve only read about Lady Bird’s Texas wildflowers…grateful that she dedicated herself to this.
    Too bad I didn’t see this post before I bought regular stamps this morning…I do buy stamps for the art or cause. Several years ago they had the vintage post card look of the 50 states, which I bought and framed & is hanging behind me.

  8. says

    Oh, those are really lovely stamps—I’ll have to look for them next time I’m at the PO. And I’m all for planting native trees (especially fruit trees, but…that’s my thing, I guess).

    By the way, for fellow gardeners, Lady Bird Johnson’s Wildflower Center is a *fabulous* resource for those wishing to plant native flowers & shrubs, no matter where in the country you are! I highly recommend it.

  9. lynda says

    These are lovely. I will have to buy some. The last time I bought stamps, the clerk told me that all first class stamps are “forever” stamps. I will double check that when I stock up.

  10. Jay says

    I knew about these stamps but when I needed to buy stamps the other day they weren’t available. It’s great the PO decided to reissue these stamps. Now more then ever it’s important to emphasize the use of native plants. I find that whenever I plant the natives with berries – hollies, serviceberry, blueberries, the birds are sure to follow; also the black eyed susies and pink coneflowers. So many ornamental shrubs have been imported from Asia, they look nice but have no appeal to wildlife. Oh, yes! I would definately use the stamps.

  11. Angela says

    Ha! I bought these stamps at the PO a few weeks ago, not knowing they were retro reissue. Not only am I a Conservation Department worker, but a retro nut, so they’re now doubly appropriate!

  12. says

    I had the pleasure to visit the LBJ Ranch near Austin this past summer and let me tell you it was an outstanding trip. If you love mid century decor as much as I you must go. All the decor is original and the colors remind you of the First Lady’s wildflowers.
    Thank you for this column, I loved it.
    Diane
    Honey Stop The Car Vintage

  13. Susan C. says

    I was able to visit the Lady Bird Wildflower Center in Austin or on the outskirts of Austin, I remember getting lost! Texas highways are very pretty, and full of wildflowers!

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