The 1989 U.S. stamp schedule looks like a winner, particularly the continuing series, which remain a popular philatelic standard each year.

Last week, we reported on the first stamps on the January agenda, starting with the 15-cent postal card in the America the Beautiful Series on the 13th. Now we move on to the February items.On Feb. 3, a 25-cent commemorative will honor A. Philip Randolph in the Black Heritage Series. This will be followed by another 25-center on Feb. 21 - the North Dakota Statehood commemorative. Feb. 22 (Washington's Birthday) will see a 25-cent Washington Statehood stamp.

March 3 is the issue date for a booklet of five designs depicting various steamboats. Each is a 25-center. On the 25th, Arturo Toscanini will be honored in the Performing Arts Series with a 25-cent commemorative stamp.

The U.S. House of Representatives is hailed on April 4 with a 25-cent commemorative in the Constitution Series. Two days later, there will be another 25-center in the Constitution Series in tribute to the U.S. Senate. On April 22, a 15-cent postal card will be dedicated to the Oklahoma Land Run and Territory. April issues conclude on the 30th, with the issue of the third in the Constitution Series, honoring the Executive Branch and featuring the inauguration of President Washington.

There is only one item each scheduled for May and June. On May 3, there will be a 25-cent commemorative hailing South Dakota Statehood, and on June 7, a stamp of undetermined denomination honoring Johns Hopkins in the Great Americans Series.

On July 14, the U.S. Postal Service will release a joint issue with France to hail the French Revolution. Next week's column will look at the second half of the 1989 schedule.

*** When Pope John Paul II visited Africa recently, one of his stops was Botswana, formerly the British Protectorate of Bechuanaland. In tribute to this historic occasion, Botswana released a four-stamp set featuring the pontiff.

The 10-thebes shows the pope raising his hand to greet the people against a backdrop of the map of Botswana. The 15-thebes has a smiling photo of the pope. The 30-thebes illustrates him with both hands held high against a backdrop of a Botswana outline map. The 80-thebes features a close-up portrait of the pope.

Also issued by Botswana was a set of four stamps honoring and publicizing the 20th anniversary of that nation's National Museum and Art Gallery in Gaborone, the capital.

The 8-thebes has an aerial view of the museum. The 15-thebes shows various artifacts on display at the museum, some of which date back to A.D. 400. The 30-thebes features the buffalo bellows used for blacksmithing. The highest value, 60 thebes, illustrates the Mobile Museum Service, which uses a van to transport museum pieces to outlying rural areas, giving all segments of the population an opportunity to view the collection.

These stamps are available at your local dealer.

*** Although many stamps of foreign countries are experiencing declines in value, U.S. stamps are showing gains, according to Scott's "1989 U.S. Specialized Catalogue." A total of 13,532 changes are noted, with more than 11,000 increasing and only 2,500 dropping in value.

The addition of listings for U.S. Post Office Commemorative panels and souvenir pages makes the catalog more useful to a growing number of collectors. It contains highly detailed reference and value information on postage, plate blocks, first-day covers, postal stationery, revenue stamps, proofs, l9th-century locals, telegraphs, Confederate States, United Nations, and U.S. possessions and trust territories.

Also new are listings for plate blocks of six as well as listings for plate blocks with perforation varieties.

The cost of the soft-bound edition is $23, while the hardcover sells for $39.95.

The catalog is available at your local dealer, or you may write directly to Scott Publishing, P.O. Box 828, Sidney, OH 45365.