Analog Angle Blog

Madonna or Moore: who are you putting on that postage stamp?

It’s no news that the U.S. Postal Service, and snail mail in general, are having a tough time. Mail volume is down, costs are increasing, and there is a huge and growing budget gap. No good solution is in sight, short of massive service cutbacks and office closures. No one predicts a snail mail resurgence, even when the economy rebounds; the trend is clear and accelerating.

So among the steps the USPS is taking to “spice up” interest in mail in general, and stamps in particular, is to change the rules on who can be on stamps, see here. (Keep in mind that stamps which are sold as collectibles, and not actually used for mail, are extremely profitable for the USPS.)

The previous rules allowed on stamps only those who had deceased for at least 5 years; up to a few years ago, there was a ten-year guard band. (U.S. presidents were an exception—they could be honored on a stamp much sooner, just one year after their death.)

The new rules will allow for living persons to be on stamps, and the USPS will be inundated, undoubtedly, with well-intentioned as well as frivolous suggestions. No doubt, some classes of luminaries will get a lot of votes: movie stars, music artists, authors, and the so-called “creative” types.

But what about engineers and scientists, in all disciplines? How about putting Gordon Moore ahead of Madonna? It will be fascinating to see who makes the final cut—and perhaps a little discouraging, given the relative stature of celebrities these days compared to scientists and technologists.

If you could put a living person from our industry and world on a stamp, who would you nominate? ?

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