Short of having your holiday cards delivered to your loved ones by Hedwig herself, Harry Potter-themed stamps — released last week by the United States Postal Service — are obviously the most magical way to send a message.
The Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, however, disagrees. Strongly.
The organization of stamp enthusiasts has spent nearly sixty years advising the Postal Service on new stamp designs, and has made it very clear that it did not approve of the Potter postage.
“Harry Potter is not American. It’s foreign, and it’s so blatantly commercial it’s off the charts,” said John Hotchner, a former president of the American Philatelic Society, who served on the committee for 12 years until 2010. “The Postal Service knows what will sell, but that’s not what stamps ought to be about. Things that don’t sell so well are part of the American story.”
The thing is, a nearly-bankrupt Postal Service is also part of the American story, so the powers that be ignored the committee’s patriotic protests and went ahead with the wizardly designs. Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe said he chose a more commercial subject in order to offset declines in revenue. After all, no money = no Postal Service, and no Postal Service = no collectible stamps. So, give a little to get a little, right?
Plus, to be fair, though the Harry Potter stories weren’t created here, they were so well-loved by Americans that they have become an inextricable part of our culture — plus, if you want to get technical, the movies were made by Warner Brothers (an American company), which also spawned an American theme park.
That said, we can understand why the CSAC is getting so aggravated; organizations used to having a measure of control over something don’t tend to enjoy being left out of the loop or having their protocols or opinions suddenly ignored (*cough* Ministry of Magic *cough, cough*).
For those less opposed to the idea, however, there are twenty different stamps in the new collection, ensuring Potter fans will have plenty of choices when it comes to mailing out their holiday greetings — though we aren’t sure what it says about you if you adorn your Christmas cards with the face of Bellatrix Lestrange or affix the stamp-which-shall-not-be-named to a gift for your grandmother…
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