2006-05-12 / Columnists

From The Rockaway Postmaster's Desk

Got an idea for a new stamp?
By George P. Buonocore


George P. Buonocore George P. Buonocore The U.S. Postal Service is proud of its role in portraying the American experience to a world audience through the issuance of postage stamps and postal stationery say's Postmaster George P. Buonocore.

Almost all subjects chosen to appear on U.S. stamps and postal stationery are suggested by the public. Each year, Americans submit proposals to the Postal Service on literally thousands of different topics. Every stamp suggestion is considered, regardless of who makes it or how it is presented.

The Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC), on behalf of the Postmaster General, evaluates the merits of all stamp proposals. Established in 1957, the Committee provides the Postal Service with a "breadth of judgment and depth of experience in various areas that influence subject matter, character and beauty of postage stamps."

The Committee's primary goal is to select subjects for recommendation to the Postmaster General that are both interesting and educational. In addition to Postal Service's extensive line of regular stamps, CSAC recommends about 25 new subjects for commemorative stamps each year. Stamp selections are made with all postal customers in mind, not just stamp collectors. A good mix of subjects, both interesting and educational, is essential.

Committee members are appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the Postmaster General. The Committee is composed of 15 members whose backgrounds reflect a wide range of educational, artistic, historical and professional expertise. All share an interest in philately and the needs of the mailing public.

The Committee itself employs no staff. The Postal Service Stamp Development group handles Committee administrative matters, maintains Committee records and responds to as many as 50,000 inquiries received annually recommending stamp subjects and designs.

The Committee meets four times each year in Washington, D.C. At the meetings, the members review all proposals that have been received since the previous meeting. No in-person appeals by stamp proponents are permitted. The members also review and provide guidance on artwork and designs for stamp subjects that are scheduled to be issued. The criteria established by this independent group ensure that stamp subjects have stood the test of time, are consistent with public opinion and have broad national interest.

The stamp selection process

Ideas for stamp subjects that meet the CSAC criteria may be addressed to the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee, c/o Stamp Development, U.S. Postal Service, 475 L'Enfant Plaza, SW, Room 5670, Washington, D.C. 20260-2437.

Subjects should be submitted at least three years in advance of the proposed date of issue to allow sufficient time for consideration and for design and production, if the subject is approved.

Stamp proposals are to be submitted in writing to the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee. This allows everyone the same opportunity to suggest a new stamp subject. All proposals are reviewed by the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee regardless of how they are submitted, e.g., stamped cards, letters or petitions.

After a proposal is determined to be consistent with the criteria set by CSAC, research is done on the proposed stamp subject. Each new proposed subject is listed on the CSAC's agenda for its next meeting. The CSAC considers all new proposals and takes one of two actions: it may reject the new proposal or it may set it aside for consideration for future issuance. If set aside for consideration, the subject remains "under consideration" in a file maintained for the Committee.

Proponents are not advised if a subject has been approved for issuance until a general announcement is made to the public. While the Postal Service relies heavily upon the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee, it has the exclusive and final authority to determine both subject matter and designs for U.S. stamps and postal stationery.

Artwork for stamp designs

Once a subject is approved, the Postal Service relies heavily on design coordinators for the selection of artists who will execute the designs. Stamp designing is an unusual art form requiring exacting skill in portraying a subject within very small dimensions. Due to the demands of stamp design and reproduction requirements, it is CSAC's policy not to review or accept unsolicited artwork. Professional artists who may wish to be considered for a design assignment should request a copy of the "Creating U.S. Postage Stamps" brochure at the following address: U.S. Postal Service, Stamp Development, ATTN: Stamp Design, 475 L'Enfant Plaza SW, Room 5670, Washington, DC 20260-2437. For more information go to your local Post Office or visit www. usps.com/shop.

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