Sources for stamp ideas

Where do the ideas for postage stamps come from?

Initially, stamps were manufactured by the same businesses that provided a country with currency, or by a country's mint. But it quickly became obvious that that printing stamps is unlike minting money because of different techniques that should be used for these processes. Consequently, printing stamps became a discrete activity, though one still sometimes carried out by companies that made currency. 

Megan Brennan postmaster general 

Megan Brennan, Postmaster General U.S. since February 1, 2015

Firstly, the Postmaster General decided what should be depicted on a postage stamp and for what occasion it would be issued. However, later these duties were fulfilled by Congress. To regulate such situation a special Committee was created that was involved in coming up with ideas for different philatelic items. This Committee functions today. The organization takes into consideration the proposals that come from simple people and then decides whether these ideas are worth being implemented into life or not.

 Henry Gates CSAC

One of the members of CSAC, Henry Gates

The full name of this organization is the Citizen's Stamp Advisory Committee. It consists of 12-15 members that are selected by a Postmaster General. The Committee considers approximately 50 000 ideas per year so it fulfills quiet a hard work. American public is very active and generate the ideas for postage stamps on a regular basis. The members of the organization choose the best ones and the Postmaster General should make a final decision. 

There some criteria that were generated by the Committee with accordance of which the ideas of folk are declined or accepted. These standards are so that no living person can be depicted on a postage stamp except for former Presidents. The person is allowed to become the subject of a philatelic item only after 10 years following his death. The exception allows a means of special recognition for past Presidents each of whom is honored with a memorial stamp on the first birthday following their death.

 president memorial stamp

The other criteria are the following:

  1. The subject of a postage stamp should be related to the American history or have an important impact on it.
  2. Stamps that honor a famous person should be issues on occasion of his/her birth, anniversaries or the important contribution this person made.
  3. The historical events can be commemorated with a postage stamp only in multiples of 50 years.
  4. The universities and other institutions are commemorated with postage stamps on occasion of the 200th anniversaries of their founding.
  5. The disasters and other tragic events cannot become a subject for a postage stamp. 
  6. There are more criteria that should be considered while making a proposal for a subject of a postage stamp. They can be found on the official website of U.S Post.
  7. These criteria were invented a long time ago. But it should be noticed than modern postage stamps break this rule and a lot of philatelists do not approve such innovations. 

Harry Potter stamp

After a stamp subject has been selected, the Committee chooses the artist who will undertake this project and will create an appropriate design of a stamp. When this work is ready it is shown to the members of Committee who make the recommendations to the Postmaster General and he makes the final decision. 

In addition to requirements for the picture or design on a stamp, other requirements, all of which can be met at a printing plant, are sometimes added to a stamp's specification. The most common one is phosphor tagging, in which an invisible mark that can be read only by a special machine is placed on a stamp. The tagging facilitates the automated sorting of mail.

Other requirements might be for such things as printing the stamp on chalked paper to prevent reuse of a stamp by cleaning or washing off a cancellation. When a canceled stamp printed on chalked paper is wetted, the picture will blur as the cancellation mark is wiped off, cuing postal workers to the fact that the stamp is no longer valid.

Bureau of Engraving and Printing

Bureau of Engraving and Printing 

Once the design of a postage stamp is approved it is sent to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing that print the philatelic item. Then the sheets of printed stamps are perforated and are checked whether there are no errors on them. When the stamps are ready they are sent to the post offices for presenting them to public and, of course, selling them.