Living Celebrities on Stamps

Are you interested in a Bill Gates stamp or a Lady Gaga stamp to round out your collection? The USPS can help!

In the past, the United States Postal Service only put images of celebrities and historical figures on stamps if the individuals had passed away. Often, faces would grace stamps specifically after a person of note had passed away. Elvis Presley, for example, passed away in 1977 and his stamp was not issued until 1993. Marilyn Monroe, who passed away in 1962, did not get a stamp until 1995.

Both stamps were immensely popular, with about 124 million people saving the Elvis stamp and 44 million saving the Marilyn stamp. Clearly, postage stamps with celebrities on them are big business for the postal service, and stamps commemorating famous figures who have passed away are very popular with collectors.

Living Celebrities on Stamps

In addition to these types of commemorative stamps, the USPS now puts living celebrities on stamps. The change occurred in 2011, when the USPS decided to abandon an earlier rule which did not allow living individuals to have their likeness placed on postage stamps. That year, the postal service asked customers to submit their ideas for people to be included on stamps via social media.

Some claimed the move was designed to renew interest in the postal service at a time when interest in sending letters had declined. Postal authorities cited a desire to engage younger audiences in the art of letter writing. Some also stated they hoped the move would make sending letters more exciting.

Current celebrities on stamps isn’t the only change at the postal office. The amount of time it takes to create a new stamp has changed, too. In 2007, it took five years for someone who had passed away to appear on a stamp. Before that, it took ten years. The only exception for that involved US Presidents, who were honored within a year. In 2011, the USPS announced it would start creating stamps of living national figures in just one year.

Are you interested in nominating a writer, architect, artist, athlete, musician, actor or other celebrity or person of note to appear on a stamp? You can visit the USPS website or social media accounts to nominate your ideas. The USPS also takes suggestions through traditional mail at Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee, c/o Stamp Development, Room 3300, 475 L'Enfant Plaza SW, Washington DC 20260-3501.


Of course, not everyone has been pleased with the USPS decision. Critics note the move to include living celebrities can mean stamps are printed with people whose impact may not be as great. Years from now, some of the current celebrities on stamps may be forgotten. Critics have also noted the way living people are chosen for commemoration amounts to a popularity contest, instead of a careful consideration of those who have had an impact on our culture.

If you’d like to add stamps to your collection, visit Apfelbaum, Inc. to start browsing collections. We can help you with anything philatelic.