Saturday, April 22, 2006

Stamps that Might Have Been

The USPS now lets you make custom stamps.

The idea seems to have been that you'd immortalize yourself or your own ugly baby (a face that only a mother could love!) or your dog. Of course, things turned out differently.

During a trial run by last year, The Smoking Gun managed to order stamps with the likenesses of Ted Kaczynski, the Rosenbergs, Slobodan Milosevic, Jimmy Hoffa, and others from the Book of Infamy. You can find these here. The Smoking Gun's point was that "Nobody's dog deserves to be on a stamp."

After the trial, the USPS authorized three private companies to print "custom stamps":
  2. Zazzle
  3. PictureIt Postage
To prevent any more Kaczynski/Milosevic/Hoffa fiascos, these companies have adopted policies on the images and words that may appear on your custom stamp. Zazzle, for example, disallows the likeness or even the name of any world leader, past or present. After you create and order your stamps, each company's Censorship Police steps in to vet them and your order will be cancelled if they disagree with the content. The "Terms & Conditions" of these companies are vague: they forbid "vulgar"-ity, whatever that is!Vanity or free-speech via custom postage doesn't come cheap: a 39cent stamp ends up costing almost $1, after including taxes and shipping & handling (and, no doubt, goes to pay for the Censorship Police as well).
I was very attracted by the idea of getting postage with subversive messages made and decided to give Zazzle a try. Herewith are some my custom stamps that were rejected. The images are also available here. All of the images are from art by Doug Minkler. You can find an extensive collection of digital images of his art on his website.

  • Un-Holy Trinity

  • Cut and Run

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