Eye Opener: Do New Postage Stamps Help or Hurt?
Happy Wednesday! The U.S. Postal Service issued 20 new commemorative stamps on Tuesday that celebrate several of television's earliest hits, including "Howdy Doody," "I Love Lucy," and "Dragnet." (See more stamps after the jump.) The "Early TV Memories" collection is now on sale online or at your neighborhood Post Office.
But the new stamps got The Eye wondering: Should the Postal Service devote so much time and money to postage stamps -- especially ones that commemorate 50-year-old TV shows -- at a time when it's losing billions of dollars?
It costs about $40,000 to develop and produce a commemorative stamp, according to David Failor, the Postal Service's executive director of stamp services. The process includes the development of a commemorative stamp collection, design of the actual stamp and their production and distribution. Though the Postal Service does not pay license fees for the images of a character or famous person, it does pay $5,000 to various artists that design and paint the stamp's image.
The stamps generate between $250 million and $300 million for the Postal Service, Failor said, a respectable sum, but not nearly enough to make up for the billions of dollars in lost revenue. Still, the stamp program generates a priceless amount of free press and fuel the interests of a couple million "hardcore" stamp collectors and another 10 million to 20 million stamp “accumulators” that might collect stamps related to a certain genre, Failor said. Having your face, TV show or cause placed on a postage stamp is also still considered a unique national honor.
But is goodwill, national prestige and $250 million to $350 million in revenue good enough? Should the Postal Service produce more or fewer commemorative stamps? And should it instead commemorate contemporary events, artists, actors and pop culture in hopes of building a younger customer base that can help sustain future mail delivery?
Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
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More of the commemorative stamps released on Tuesday:
| August 12, 2009; 6:00 AM ET
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