The American bald eagle, symbol of U.S. determination and forcefulness, flies high on a new $8.75 stamp intended for the letter rate of Express Mail. This is a rare occasion for the U.S. Postal Service - the denomination has been decreased from the previous rate of $10.75!

Back in 1970, the Postal Service pioneered the expedited mail industry for overnight delivery. However, other delivery services have since entered the field, and the competition has been fierce.Thus, the Postal Service not only lowered its rate for mailing letter-size items, it has added a new feature - On Demand pickup service. This permits a customer to call during business hours and have his Express Mail shipments taken by letter carrier to the post office for expedited delivery.

The new stamp depicts the head of the fierce-looking bald eagle against a background of a midnight blue sky with a bright orange moon.

The value "$8.75" appears in the lower right corner in red, while "USA" is adjacent to it in smaller white lettering.

For collectors who save sheets, this $8.75 Express Mail issue is produced in the miniature sheet format of 20 stamps per pane. There are four plate blocks in the sheet.

Here's how collectors can obtain first-day cancellations for the high-value stamp:

You may buy the stamp at your local post office and affix to your own envelope. Send to: Customer-Affixed Envelopes, $8.75 Express Mail Stamp, Postmaster, Terre Haute, IN 47807-9991. It must be postmarked by Nov. 3. No remittance is necessary.

If you prefer to have the Postal Service do the job, enclose a money order or personal check for $8.75 per stamp and send to: Express Mail Stamp, Postmaster, Terre Haute, IN 47807-9992. Deadline is Nov. 3.

An interesting footnote for the mailing public: Although the Express Mail stamp is intended primarily for use on letter-size items, it can be used as postage for other types of mail as well.

The Postal Service has granted additional time for collectors to get their first-day cancellations for five new stamps.

The deadline for the 25-cent Classic Cars stamp has been extended to Nov. 8, while the deadline for the 25-cent block of four featuring Antarctic Explorers is now Nov. 28. The 25-cent block of Carousel Animals has a new deadline of Dec. 16. The deadline for the pair of Christmas stamps that will be released Oct. 20 has been extended to Dec. 19.

Watch this column for further details on the annual Christmas adhesives - one contemporary and one traditional design.

World Stamp Expo '89, the Postal Service stamp exhibition to be held in Washington, D.C., next year (Nov. 17-Dec. 3) has started a "Stamps for Youth" program.

A packet of 100 stamps will be given to every youngster attending the show. Collectors, dealers and stamp clubs may send stamps (mint or used), in packets of 100 different ones, to: Dorothy Blaney, RFD 1, Box 218, Perryopolis, PA 15473-9801. The variety can be either U.S. or foreign.

While the United States is ready to release its annual Christmas stamps, the Isle of Man has issued a set of three stamps featuring "Christmas Birds" for use on mail during the Yuletide season. The birds are island birds shown in traditional winter landscapes.

Each of the stamps identifies the bird according to its common English name, its scientific Latin name and the Manx Gaelic name.

The 12-pence depicts the long-eared owl, the 15-pence illustrates the robin, and the 31-pence pictures the partridge.

This Christmas set is the last of the 1988 schedule of stamps for the Isle of Man.

Manx postal officials recently released four high values, concluding its definitive series highlighting railways on the small island. Twelve lower values in the series were issued earlier this year.

The 20-pence shows the Isle of Man Railway No. 13 "Kissack" leaving St. John's for Peel. The 25-pence features the Isle of Man Railway No. 12 "Hutchinson" departing Douglas Station. The 50-pence depicts the Groudle Glen Railway train. The highest value, 1 pound, illustrates the Isle of Man Railway No. 11 "Maitland," which carried Queen Elizabeth II and the Queen Mother to Kirk Braddan during a royal visit.

The Isle of Man is an English dependency situated in the Irish Sea, between the United Kingdom and Ireland. It is only 33 miles long and 12 miles wide.

The Manx stamps mentioned here can be obtained from your local dealer.