From simple children’s birthday parties to elaborate Broadway spectaculars, magic shows are a staple of the entertainment industry. The art of illusion appeals to us because it dodges our senses and perceptions, leaving us to ask ourselves how the magician did it. It is entirely appropriate, therefore, that the United States Postal Service (USPS) should honor the magician’s craft with a sheet of its USPS Forever stamps. Even more fitting is that the stamps highlight the quintessential trick among conjurers.
How Stamps Reflect the Culture
Whether collectors focus on USPS Forever stamps, older priced postage stamps or even foreign stamps, they are investing in history. Often, philatelists will emphasize an area of personal interest, e.g. classic cars, performers, heroes or artists. They may re-sell or retain their acquisitions but the important advantage is the knowledge they gain while collecting.
American stamps, for example, are categorized in three classes. Definitive stamps are those used regularly to fund the delivery of letters and parcels. Commemorative stamps, on the other hand, are bigger in dimension and more artistic. Of course, seasonal stamps are geared to holidays and sell within limited time-frames. Most collectors concentrate on–or at least begin with–commemorative stamps, which feature important persons, events or aspects of American history and culture.
Over the years, commemorative stamps have included such legendary figures as John Lennon, Mister Rogers and Lena Horne. They have recalled watershed events like World War I and the Battle of New Orleans. In addition, these stamps laud cult TV shows like Star Trek, and even showcase noble causes such as Alzheimer’s disease research. In practicing their passion, collectors can follow the ebbs and flows of societal change. The newest USPS Forever stamps follow in this tradition.
Art of Magic Series
Released on August 7, 2018, the Art of Magic stamps are available in a three-stamp souvenir sheet and a 20-stamp pane. The souvenir sheet features a trio of identical stamps displaying the classic and always beloved rabbit-in-the-hat trick. Employing lenticular printing, i.e. creating a semblance of depth and visual difference when viewed at alternate angles, the designers produced a stamp that presents the rabbit jumping out of the hat when the holder rotates the stamp.
The pane of 20 consists of other USPS Forever stamps in the Art of Magic series. These include similarly well-known sleights of hand like the vanishing bird; the transforming flower; crystal ball prediction; and the levitated woman. Each of these is common at carnivals, school assemblies, command performances and talent shows. Each, also, range from simple demonstrations to very sophisticated executions. While the stamps appeal to collectors, each is usable for a one-ounce, first-class letter.
These USPS Forever stamps are the products of expert designers, illustrators and typographers at the United States Postal Service. Amazingly, these professionals juxtapose “Art of Magic” with “Forever” and “USA” in limited space without leaving the appearance of word-stuffing or compressing. USPS Forever stamps are commonly 0.87 inches by 0.979 inches in dimension so their designs must be precise and intricate. A professional art director oversees the conception and development of each new stamp.
Of the nearly 25 stamp themes issued by the Postal Service each year, the Art of Magic stamps stand out for their optical illusions and their unique content. Although not strictly an American form of amusement–it has been around for millennia–magic is nevertheless a longstanding expression of entertainment of the U.S. landscape. That is why your local post office–or online retailer–makes the Art of Magic stamps available. From pre-electricity to the information age, people love magic.