Rare Book Monthly

Articles - August - 2013 Issue

Who'll be on the postage stamp?

Benfranklinestamp

The first U.S. stamp to feature a book collector

The post office has been having a tough go.  Founded in 1775 and brought to life by Benjamin Franklin, the idea was to provide delivery of news and documents between random places on a predictable schedule at a minimal cost.  Recently things have not been working out.  Bills that once arrived by mail now increasingly arrive by email, while payments too are increasingly transfers rather than checks.  Newspapers, weeklies in particular, used to arrive by mail.  Now, their advertising drained by Internet competition, they too are limping into oblivion.   Even flyers, the post office’s mainstay twenty years ago, are becoming electronic and when still in print are increasingly found inserted into newspapers that are both grateful for the revenue and happy for the bulk to restore, if only for a moment, the weight that newspapers used to have.  It isn’t pretty.

The problem is that the Post Office has become a battlefield.  Conservatives want the post office to disappear; liberals and traditionalists want it to continue to provide paper communications between parties at a nominal expense.  The Republican strategy is to limit the post office to the services it has been providing.  Democrats support an expansion.  Republicans favor letting private enterprise handle your mail and complain that postal employees are overpaid.  Their answer is to fire ‘em.
  

My local postman suggested that the first class stamp increase in price to cover the actual cost.  My approach is a bit more nuanced.  I’d let them sell advertising.

Getting your face on a stamp is easier than getting it on Mount Rushmore but it's still not easy.  Since 2007, you don't have to be in a box to be on a stamp but you still have to have political sway.  It should be easier and it would be profitable.

Could Apple Computer design an amazing set of ten first class stamps?  Absolutely.  So would Google.  Many companies would be interested and the price would be determined by competitive bidding.  Perhaps a single commercial stamp could be issued monthly.  If so, Steve Jobs will be on an American stamp next year.  He’s already on Mozambique and Hungarian stamps.

There should also be a public service sector.  This category wouldn’t require a winning bid.  In this category the voting would be online just like American Idol.  A series of the important librarians of the 20th century would bring out 50 million votes from the institutions themselves and the millions who use their services every day.

Finally, there should be an option to use one of several pre-set forms to paste baby pictures and other personal announcements onto small quantities of stamps.  You’d bring in your image and the post office would directly print it onto sheets of 50.  Can you think of a nicer way to say I love you on Valentine’s Day - or announce the birth of a baby, retirement or a hole in one?

The Post Office has been part of our lives and I for one would like that relationship to be enduring.  To be so changes will be required.

Here are some other random subjects for postage stamps:

Book Dealers

Book Collectors

Book Thieves

Or how about stolen objects.  "Didn't I see this volume on a stamp recently?"

Taken together the post office, an abiding element in everyday life can, with some imagination, find a way to meet its obligations, support its staff and continue to be a bridge between government and the people.

So here’s hoping.  And while I’m waiting I’m working on my design for AE postage stamps.  And if you are a folio member here’s a hint.  Send me your photograph.  Cheese!

     


Posted On: 2013-08-02 00:00
User Name: rowns

You can print any photo you like onto (legal) US postage through authorized resellers, such as:

http://photo.stamps.com/Store/

Talk about limited


Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

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