USPS Stamps: 2014 Line-Up Emphasizes Pop-CultureBy: Brian Powell - March 4, 2014
Each time the Earth makes one revolution around the Sun, the denizens of the planet get excited for all of the new possibilities, opportunities, innovations, and creations that inevitably result with the coming of a new year – things such as new movies, TV shows, sports seasons, and music festivals. However, for those who consider themselves philatelists, or stamp collectors, perhaps the most excitement is derived from the announcement of the new stamp line-up. Luckily for philatelists and fans of snail-mail, that list has arrived early this year.
In a leaked document obtained by the Washington Post, the list of stamps preliminarily approved for production by The Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee displays a new focus-area for the United States Postal Service (USPS) towards its stamp releases – pop-culture.
Those subjects which immediately stand-out include Jimi Hendricks, Elvis Presley (who holds the record for the top-selling stamp of all time with his 29 cent 1993 release), the Peanuts cast, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Dora the Explorer, multiple celebrity chefs, Harvey Milk, NBA-great Wilt Chamberlain, and recently-deceased Apple co-creator, Steve Jobs.
Also included in the list are key historical figures and events, including World War II hero and Tuskegee Airmen flight-instructor Alfred “Chief” Anderson, a commemoration of the USS Arizona Memorial, and even the solar system.
Susan McGowan, the USPS’s executive director for stamp services, hopes that the new line-up will “… bring new eyeballs” to the postal service and “keep the American public engaged.” Even though the new stamps seem to shy away from the tradition of stamps focusing on key historical and cultural events, McGowan insists that “… we’re not going away from our roots… It will be very interesting to see what the American public thinks of the stamps under consideration. I’m sure people are going to be vocal about it.”
A couple of the stamps which will most likely receive the most flak in the 2014-15 line-up include Charleton Heston, due to his activism with the NRA, and John Lennon, whose inclusion would violate the tradition of only including American subjects.
The new approach to stamp artistry represents more drastic moves by the USPS to make its service more and more relevant to the public in an age turning ever-more digital. Despite exceeding revenue projections in 2012 and 2013 by $1.2 billion and $1.4 billion respectively, the USPS posted billions of dollars in overall losses for the previous two years, falling $5 billion short in 2013 and a whopping $16 billion short in 2012.