Friday, October 15, 2010

Getting the Stamp of Approval

When the Postal Service unveiled this year’s stamp program, the 2010 collection included more than 50 commemorative stamps covering 23 subjects. These ranged from honoring Cowboys of the Silver Screen and film star Katharine Hepburn to recognizing the achievements of distinguished sailors and the remarkable athletes who played Negro leagues baseball.

But just who suggests, and finally decides, what subjects and images will be portrayed on these miniature works of art?

For almost all stamp subjects, the process begins with the public. Americans each year submit up to 50,000 written proposals on literally thousands of different topics to the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC). This method allows everyone the same opportunity to suggest a new stamp subject. Each suggestion receives equal consideration, regardless of who makes it or how it is presented — by letter, post card or petition.

CSAC members evaluate the merits of all proposals that comply with the selection standards and guidelines. These include general policies that postage stamps primarily feature American or American-related subjects; that no living person be portrayed on U.S. postage; that only events, persons and themes of widespread national appeal and significance will be considered; and that no stamp shall be considered if one treating the same subject has been issued in the past 50 years.

For more on the committee or to submit a stamp idea:

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