The US Postal Service issued the famous Elvis stamp twenty-one years ago, so you wouldn’t expect it to be back in the news today. However, last week, the Washington Post blog leaked news about the images to be featured on future commemorative stamps. These selections are made by the independent Citizen’s Stamp Advisory Committee. What image will be on future stamps is kept top-secret, in part so postal officials can create a buzz when they announce new subjects. Without explaining how they got the information, the Post trumpeted their scoop of this news.
The Post revealed that upcoming stamps in 2014 include, among other subjects:
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Then they said: “Some of the highlights for 2015 – soul singer James Brown, late-night TV host Johnny Carson, and a reissue of Elvis Presley, the Postal Service’s top-selling stamp, released with a value of 29 cents in 1993.”
I wondered how they could reissue a stamp that said 29¢ on it. Maybe they would remove the price and replace it with “Forever,” the way they now designate stamps no matter what the rate gets raised to.
The Postal Service has already messed with the Elvis stamp once before. After selling 129 million of the stamp with ELVIS on it, they came back with one that had ELVIS PRESLEY on it.
You couldn’t buy that one individually, only as part of a 35-stamp-sheet they called the “Legends of American Music Collection: Rock & Roll – Rhythm and Blues.”
However, reading further in the Washington Post blog, I came to the complete list of new stamps for the next two years. Please note the two items I have underlined.
The two items I’ve underlined are interesting. At the bottom, in red, it says Music Icons: Elvis Presley. Now look at the top underline. It says Red = In Design Development. So, maybe the Washington Post misinterpreted their top-secret scoop when they said a reissue of the 1993 stamp was coming
Here’s something to think about. Back in 1992, the Postal Service held a contest to see which of two very different Elvis images was the most popular with the public.
This poster was prominently placed in every post office in the country, as well as in the April 13, 1992 issue of People magazine.
Voting for your favorite required you to go to the Post Office and ask for ballots. They were self-addressed postcards showing the two competing drawings, with boxes to check for your choice. I got ten ballots, sent in seven (voting for choice A), and kept three as collectibles.
So, what if this current “design consideration” is just a code to hide the fact they are going to use the alternate image they already own the rights to? After all, the Postal Service is losing millions every year, and this would save the money they’d have to spend on a new drawing.
The winner (taking 75% of the vote) back in 1993 was called the “Young Elvis” stamp, and unfortunately, the other was derisively called the “Older and Wider Elvis” or even worse, the “Fat Elvis” stamp. That really wasn’t fair. John Berkley, the artist who painted it, drew Elvis very similar to a shot from the 1973 Aloha from Hawaii TV special.
Here’s what artist John Berkley said about the Elvis he painted. “As a matter of fact, he weighed 160 pounds and was 38 years old at the time. That’s not fat and that’s not old.”
If the Postal Service wants to bring back the Aloha Elvis (or whatever appropriate name they want to call him), I’m all for it.
It’s fun to do this kind of speculation, although my track record is not so good. I predicted that the planned Elvis show by Cirque ‘du Soleil would be called either “E” or “TCB,” but they picked “Viva Elvis.”
So, to improve my chances of making an accurate prediction on the new Elvis stamp, I’ll add another one. If the Postal Service is soliciting new Elvis images to use for the 2015 stamp, here is my favorite.
Let’s see the skeptics try to call this Old Elvis or Fat Elvis. Do you think the fans would buy 129 million of a new bad-ass black leather Elvis stamp?
© 2013 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net
Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.