It's Magic! Today, November 19th, the U.S. Postal Service issues stamps showing identifiable living people. Will they be prominent U.S. politicians? Inventors? Philanthropists? Sports heroes? No, they’re characters from the “Harry Potter” movies.
At first glance, this appears to reflect a recent and very major change in policy. Until now, you had to be dead to be on a stamp. Even the images on the 1960’s and 1970’s “Spacewalk” and “Moon Landing” stamps showed “idealized” astronauts - rather than specific pictures of living people. The Harry Potter stamps seem to be the first living people under the new policy.
However, the Postal Service contacted us to point out the 2007 “Star Wars” stamps also showed actors. They make the point that while both sets show real, identifiable people, they’re portraying characters rather than themselves. So technically, we’re still waiting for a living person to be honored on a stamp.
The Harry Potter stamps show, among others, Daniel Radcliffe as Harry, Emma Watson as Hermione, Michael Gambon as Dumbledore and Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort. (By the way, what does it mean if you send or receive a letter with a Voldemort stamp on it?)
The stamps will be good for first-class mail and come in booklets of 20 that sell for $9.20 each. The Postal Service is hoping they’ll be popular. The specialty magazine Linn’s Stamp News reports 100 million stamps – in five million booklets – have been printed. While they won’t be available at every post office, they can be ordered from the Postal Service’s website, usps.com.