The U.S. Postal Service has been busy again issuing new stamps, and now there are even more stamps to enjoy. There is a stamp to celebrate Lunar New Year, an ovation to Maya Angelou, a Vietnam Medal of Honor stamp, a Special Olympics stamp, stamps featuring water lilies, vintage roses and tulips, and more. But it seems that the best is yet to come.
Among the new stamps, let’s first take a look at the timeless and ever popular Elvis. The latest Elvis stamp will be dedicated on Aug. 12 at Graceland in Memphis. Priscilla Presley will take part in the ceremony as part of this year’s Elvis Week celebration. The 49-cent Forever stamp is part of the USPS series of musical icons, and features a young and very dreamy Elvis. The public is encouraged to tweet about the stamp using #ElvisForever.
In 1992 the USPS invited the public to vote on an earlier Elvis stamp: a young Elvis, painted by Mark Stutsman, or an image of the older King of Rock and Roll, painted by John Berkey (old Elvis). The public voted overwhelmingly in favor of young Elvis. The stamp was issued in 1993, and a decade later, noted the Smithsonian’s U.S. Postal Museum, “the Elvis stamp is still one of the most talked-about stamps ever issued by the Postal Service—and the most popular U.S. commemorative stamp of all time.” An earlier Elvis stamp, issued in 1985, is also a collector’s item.
Another new stamp of note, issued on June 5, features Flannery O’Connor, the southern gothic writer who wrote two novels and 32 short stories, including the short story collection A Good Man is Hard to Find (1955). Although Ms. O’Connor died of lupus at the young age of 39, she is a widely revered and notable literary figure, and her Complete Stories won the National Book Award posthumously in 1972.
The Flannery O’Connor stamp features the author as a 20-year old, based on a photograph taken while she was attending Georgia State College for Women. She is framed in her portrait by peacock feathers, a nod to her later years, when she retired to her family farm in Milledgeville, Georgia, surrounded by exotic birds.
Unlike young Elvis fans, however, this youthful portrait did not please everyone. “Wait – what’s Betty Crocker doing on Flannery’s stamp?” wrote Lawrence Downes in The New York Times Editorial Notebook. “I wish they…had produced a stamp …that contained some taste of her strange and artistic vision.” The Flannery O’Connor stamp costs 93-cents through the USPS website, but is already commanding higher prices on eBay.
The inimitable Paul Newman, actor and philanthropist, also will have his own stamp, available on September 18. This is the first stamp for Newman, who also was a director, social activist with a specific interest in children’s welfare, and race car driver. He was married to actress Joanne Woodward. He died at the age of 83 in 2008. The stamp features a photo of the Academy Award winning actor taken in 1980 by photographer Steve Shapiro.
Among his many fine films, including Hombre (1967), The Hustler (1961), The Towering Inferno (1974) and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), Newman won an Oscar for The Color of Money (1986). One of his most significant features was his startlingly blue eyes.
Paul Newman was the co-founder of Newman’s Own, a food company, which sells over 200 products. Since the company’s founding in 1982, all post-tax profits ($430 million as of 2014) have been donated to charity.
So many choices of new stamps means more letters need to be written! I know who will be looking at you from my envelopes – he has blue eyes.