I’ve now studied the list of upcoming stamp subjects published by The Washington Post, and a number of thoughts come to mind.
First, there’s a word missing: “Possibly,” as in “possibly upcoming.” It strikes me as one of those lists you draw up in a “blue sky” meeting, where you list all the possibilities. That would explain the still-living former presidents on the list: Their stamps won’t be scheduled until they pass away, not necessarily in 2015 or 2016.
Second, just because a design has been approved doesn’t guarantee a stamp will be issued. Several years ago, the USPS showed us the design for a Spencer Tracy stamp at the annual press preview. Sometime between that event and its first-day ceremony, there was an issue with rights. The stamp was never issued. Or how about the “Just Move” stamps, whose design was approved but flawed. They were printed, but were supposed to be destroyed.
Third, the word “reprint” is incorrect. The denominations will be changed. “Revisions” might be a better word.
Fourth, the woman who wrote the article for the Post, Lisa Rein, apparently isn’t a stamp collector, or she would have known that Janis Joplin, Harvey Milk and some of the other subjects have already been announced or confirmed.
This list is very similar to one published in Linn’s Stamp News a year ago. “Sarah Vaughn” is even misspelled the same way. So whether the same person did the leaking both times, the list itself comes from the same place, whether it’s someone’s briefcase after a CSAC meeting or the wastebasket next to the photocopy machine.
There’s poetic justice in this huge list being leaked: We stamp collectors (and philatelic journalists) aren’t able to get details on what stamps are being issued next month, and here someone has spoiled the Postal Service’s little power-play by giving us three years’ details.
My friend Foster Miller expressed the opinion elsewhere that perhaps leaks like this are the reason the Postal Service isn’t showing us the March 13th Jimi Hendrix stamp design nor has confirmed the Hudson River School American Treasures issue. I think it’s the other way around: When you know information is out there, but isn’t being shared, jyou work a little harder to get it.
I know a number of Postal Service employees who have been dealing with stamp collectors for years, and who feel that withholding this information from collectors and first day cover dealers/servicers is Just Plain Wrong. When they can, some of them pass on this information to us. If they had confidence that it would be provided to the philatelic community on a timely basis, they wouldn’t.
I don’t recall leaks of this magnitude when Steve Kearney or Dave Failor were the heads of Stamp Services. Neither told us everything they knew, both held back a few surprise issues, but most of the information we wanted was given to us in a timely manner, even for those surprises.
The Jimi Hendrix stamp was announced less than three weeks before its first-day. It’s on the Washington Post list, which the paper says was ‘the complete list as of Jan. 7,” more than six weeks before word of the stamp first leaked and was then quickly confirmed. “When were you planning on telling us, folks?”
Regarding the actual subjects listed, I have no major quibbles. I may not collect all of them, but that’s true every year, even before Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe declared a turn toward commercialism. I’m not a big fan of ferns, either, but I don’t mind if they’re in the stamp program.
Most intriguing to me – an avid science fiction reader – is that not only is Science Fiction Writers on next year’s program, but there’s a Science Fiction Writers II on the list. SFW#1 keeps getting pushed back, and yet there’s another set under consideration?
Even Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein can’t predict this stamp program’s future. I’m not sure they would have been able to predict the U.S. stamp program’s present.