Here’s Who Decides What Goes on a Postage Stamp

Believe it or not, there's a whole committee dedicated to stamp design.

You have probably seen many iconic faces on your postage stamps over the years such as former presidents, Elvis Presley, Harriet Tubman, Louis Armstrong, Emily Dickinson and even Mr. Rogers. The postal service issues approximately 35 new stamps each year and with all the new artwork appearing on the mail, you may have wondered who actually comes up with all these new ideas. More work goes into the stamp process than you may believe. Learn more surprising facts about the U.S. Post Office.

What is the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee?

The Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC) was established in 1957 and reports directly to the Postmaster General of the United States (PMG). Members of the group use their collective expertise in public interest, education, art, history, science, sports, and technology to recommend stamp subjects. With 11 members currently in the group, CSAC meets in a closed and confidential setting quarterly before sending ideas off to the PMG for final approval. See what mail delivery looked like 100 years ago.

What is the stamp selection process?

Stamp ideas have to meet a certain selection criteria before being eligible to be chosen such as the subject having a significant impact on American culture and being deceased for at least three years. The general public can submit ideas in writing by mail with the inclusion of important historical information about that subject. As of right now, proposals are not accepted by email or by phone.

Because of the time it takes for research and approval, stamp ideas have to be proposed at least three or more years before the suggested insurance year. The committee receives over 30,000 proposals per year and they review every single one of them. It’s important to note that there will not be any credit or compensation if a person’s idea is selected. Learn how the United States government really spends your tax dollars.

Who designs the stamps?

Professional art directors oversee stamp design, working with designers, artists, illustrators, and photographers to produce the art. These designs are prestigious and one of the most visible forms of public art. Artists can submit a portfolio to be considered for the next round of stamps which are reviewed on a rolling basis.

With USPS in danger of collapsing, the organization that has been a lifeline for all of us over the years is in need of some major help. Check out these simple ways to help USPS right now.

Sources

  • USPS: “Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee”
  • How Stuff Works: “Who Decides What Goes on Postage Stamps?”
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