Did you see the news earlier this week that the US Postal Service has changed its rules and will now consider stamp designs that feature people who are still alive. According to the Postmaster General, “This change will enable us to pay tribute to individuals for their achievements while they are still alive to enjoy the honor.”
But, several news articles speculate that this could be as much about money as admiration. We all know the Postal Service is in bad shape financially. Could this new policy be a move to bring in extra profit, as they hope many of the new popular designs might be bought as collectibles and not used as postage?
There is one stunning example of this phenomenon – the Elvis stamp from 1993. The USPS issued 500 million of them, but reported in 2002 that over 124 million were never used to mail a letter. That resulted in a cool $36 million profit for the post office.
The news sources also reported the Postal Service is now inviting suggestions for new stamps featuring people who are still alive. Although they get 40-50,000 suggestions every year, most of the resulting stamps don’t inspire folks to hang on to large numbers of them as collectibles. What they want now are pop culture icons like Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber with rabid fans who will buy lots and lots of stamps.
I have an idea for the Postal Service. Based on their prior experience with Elvis fans buying and hoarding the Elvis stamps, why not go back to the well one more time. How about a Mothers’ Day commemorative stamp featuring Elvis and his mama Gladys? Can you think of any image that would better show a son’s love for his mother? I went into my files to see if there were any photos of the two that would make a good stamp picture. Here’s what I found.
This shot from 1956 is pretty good, but we can’t see either of their eyes, so, it’s probably not the one to use.
This would be a good one if it were a sharper image.
Probably the best so far. Elvis is his usual bad self and Gladys looks about as good here as she ever did in her last years.
This won’t work. Gladys just doesn’t look her best here.
Another shot with Gladys in profile and she looks pretty good. It would be better if they were closer and Elvis wasn’t wearing the hat.
It’s a nice image of Elvis kissing his mom, but Gladys looks so sad. I believe this shot was taken as Elvis prepared to join the Army.
When I finally found the picture I liked best for an Elvis and Gladys Mothers’ Day stamp, it turned out to be a Photoshop composite. The shot of smiling Gladys below had to have been taken several years before the one of Elvis.
The picture on the stamp idea above was cropped from a larger one created by Tommy Piretos, who has designed at least two dozen great Elvis images. You can see fourteen of them on Flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/52594605@N02/ I have tried to find a way to contact Tommy Piretos and Piretos Creations using Google, Bing, and Flickr, but have had no success. I’d like to do a feature about these wonderful images and their creator. If you know of an e-mail address or website for Tommy Piretos, please let me know at email@example.com.
So, if you like the concept of an Elvis and Gladys Mothers’ Day Commemorative stamp, you can boost the chances of it happening by sending your proposal to:
Creative Stamp Advisory Committee
C/O Stamp Development
US Postal Service
475 L’Enfant Plaza SW, Room 3300
Washington, DC 20260
You don’t need to send a picture with your proposal. That’s another long involved process, and the Postal Service has a group of preferred artists they use most of the time.
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