‘Star Wars: Episode VII — The Philatelic Menace’
Light sabers at 50 paces! Stamp collectors are up in arms about plans for 15 new “Star Wars” stamps, to be issued for the 30th anniversary of the film in May. “From a galaxy far, far away . . . to your mailbox,” crows the U.S. Postal Service. The problem? The stamps picture Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisherand Natalie Portman– a seeming violation of USPS guidelines that prevent depictions of living people.“The advisory committee felt as though we are honoring the characters of the ‘Star Wars’ saga, not the individuals who portrayed them,” explained David Failor, director of stamp services, who showed off the first-class stamps last week.
Historically, USPS guidelines allowed stamp depictions only of people who have been dead at least 10 years (except U.S. presidents). Fred Baumann, spokesman for the American Philatelic Society, says there are “stamps with real, living people, but no one knew who they were” — a 1932 Arbor Day stamp with the engraver’s two kids; WWII soldiers depicted in 1945; firefighters on a 9/11 stamp. The “Star Wars” actors, however, are easily recognizable (if poorly rendered) on the stamps. “It’s not a direct photographic image of Mark Hamill,” Baumann said. “It looks like an airbrushed photo on the side of a van.”
Still, it’s a blow to purists, who think stamps should continue the tradition of celebrating individuals and events of historic importance to the country — not celebrities du jour. “That gets you into egomaniacs honoring themselves,” says Chicago collector Eliot Landau.
The 41-cent stamps are expected to be enormously successful, possibly surpassing the Elvis Presley, the best-selling commemorative stamp of all time. “We think it’s going to give Elvis a run for his money,” said Failor, who noted that some folks are upset about that one, too: “They think Elvis is still alive.”
Article published in Washington Post’s Reliable Source Column
USPS Star Wars Stamps compiled by PostalReporter.com