It seems not everyone is happy to celebrate Batman’s 75th anniversary, at least not in the world of stamp collecting. The Bat-stamps released by the U.S. Postal Service in celebration of the Dark Knight’s mark on pop culture has been met with some negative feedback from traditional stamp collectors for what they see as the prostitution of their hobby. The USPS, they contend, is degrading their passion all in the name of a quick buck.
Businessweek.com reports that traditional stamp enthusiasts see the Caped Crusader appearing on limited edition sheets of collectible stamps as endemic of a growing trending of the USPS marring their hobby. In try to lure young collectors to the fold, the naysayers contend, the Postal Service is somehow diluting their collecting pursuits. Even former USPS Postmaster General Benjamin Bailar was resentful of the trajectory the USPS is taking in regards to its stamp release policies.
They have really ruined the stamp program. They have prostituted it in an effort to make money.
His reaction to the Bat-stamp release was so visceral, in fact, that he resigned from the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee in August. As expected, however, the USPS defended its efforts to draw new faces into the stamp collecting community. According to Postal Service spokesman Mark Saunders
You’ve got people who are fans of an icon that collect Batman memorabilia. It’s a great opportunity to reach out to younger audiences, more people, to make stamps more relevant to everyone.
While I’m not a stamp collector, I will admit that I take notice when the USPS produces stamps featuring pop culture icons for whom I have sort of affection, be they writers, artists, or fictional characters. While stamp collecting purists might find the whole affair objectionable and gross due to what they see as a move to make money, I have to wonder if they have considered that’s how the USPS is able to continue to put out stamps. It’s no secret that the Postal Service is money-poor at the moment, and roll-outs like the Batman sheets of stamps garner the USPS almost 100% profit. It’s the same thing that I tell folks that are upset about a move in comic book storytelling that seems to designed to make cash: It’s a business first, a hobby second. And without A, B suffers.
If you want to get your hands on some snazzy Bat-stamps (I do!), be sure to check out the USPS official website or head to your local post office.