New Faces for Stamps

For the first time, the postal service will allow living Americans to appear on stamps

September 28, 2011

Living Americans will be eligible to appear on postage stamps starting next year.

Would a stamp of Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber or The Giver author Lois Lowry make you want to send more snail mail? The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) hopes so. The USPS announced Monday that, for the first time, living Americans will be eligible to appear on U.S. postage stamps next year.

Since 2007, the USPS policy has required that a person must be deceased five years before they are eligible for the honor of appearing on a stamp. Before that, the requirement was 10 years. The exception was for former presidents, who are traditionally remembered on a stamp in the year after their deaths. Now, any nationally known American, past or present, is eligible.

"This change will enable us to pay tribute to individuals for their achievements while they are still alive to enjoy the honor," Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said. The post office will consider creating stamps for American musicians, sports stars, writers, artists and other famous figures.

Saving Stamps

The new stamps may help bring more income to the struggling USPS, which lost $8.5 billion last year. Americans are sending fewer letters and packages as they rely more on free and fast email and other electronic services. In 2010, 28.6 billion stamped letters were mailed, compared to 53.6 billion in 2001. The price of a stamp rose from 34 cents to 44 cents over the past decade. The USPS does not receive tax dollars to run its business, so it relies on the sale of postage, products and services.

The USPS hopes to raise interest in stamp collecting among citizens, since stamps purchased for collections help boost income. A committee and the postmaster general will select the first living Americans to receive the stamp honor. The USPS is inviting the public to suggest famous Americans for consideration. You can mail your ideas to the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee, c/o Stamp Development, Room 3300, 475 L'Enfant Plaza SW, Washington DC 20260-3501. Also, vote in the poll below to tell us who should appear on a stamp.

TFK Poll
Who would you like to see on a postage stamp?
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