What historic postage stamp is the best of the best? Can a classic Canadian farm sow more votes than beautiful French irises? Can an Olympics stamp from Mexico run the table or will a 1962 U.S. space stamp rise to the top? Does the entry from tiny Chad have a legitimate chance? What about India, Great Britain and the others?
Welcome to our bracket-style head-to-head 2017 Stamp Madness contest [Enter Contest Here]. In four rounds of voting, we’ll choose a champion stamp and some lucky contestants will win fun philatelic prizes.
We have two simple contests. The first is our Preview Contest in which APS members, via the e-newsletter link sent today (voting closes March 22), are picking the stamp they think will win the overall championship. We’ll randomly choose the winner from the group that picked the winning stamp. One vote per person please and only members of the APS are eligible for the top prize (a 2005 U.S. Stamp Yearbook with $51.43 in face value stamps). A runner-up will receive the book Cataloging U.S. Commemorative Stamps: 1950.
Our second contest, also a Preview Contest, is open to the public for voting (voting also closes March 22) and prizes (top prize The Civil War, a book published by the USPS in 1995 that includes two panes of 20 stamps; runner-up prize the Cataloging U.S. Commemorative Stamps: 1950 book).
The stamps represent four regions — the Americas, Europe, Pacific, and Afro-Mediterranean — and they will square off to create a Final Four and eventual champion. Please choose your favorite stamp in each elimination round via Facebook and Twitter, which will lead to a final showdown and eventual champion. Again, we’ll choose at random from the “winning” stamp’s pool to award a prize.
The contests begin today! The first two rounds have the Americas vs. Afro-Mediterranean and Pacific vs. Europe. Good Luck!
United States (Seeded No. 1) – The design for the New York World’s Fair stamp of 1964 (Scott 1244) was created using the artwork of architectural illustrator John C. Wenrich, who worked on both the 1939 and 1964 New York fairs. The stamp features two of the fair’s prominent icons – “The Rocket Thrower” sculpture and the Unisphere globe.
Canada (Seeded No. 2) – The Eastern (sometimes Ontario) Farm scene stamp (Scott 268) of 1946. The stamp illustrates vital farm products and activities. The design is a composite from four photographs. Designed by Herman Herbert Schwartz, vignette engraved by Warrell Hauck, and printed by Canadian Bank Note Co.
Mexico (Seeded No. 3) – The 50-cent Gymnastics stamp (Scott 993) is part of a set of vibrantly colored 10 Summer Olympics stamps issued in 1967. Graphic designer Lance Wyman’s radiant lines design was the brand for the ’68 Mexico City Games.
Guatemala (Seeded No. 4) – The Motorcycle Messenger stamp (Scott 337B) was originally issued with an overprint in 1948 to be used as express mail (not the “Expreso” across the bottom), but in 1951 it was released with no overprint so it could used regular postage. Printed by Joh. Enschedé, of Holland, a banknote printing company that started in 1703.
India (No. 1) – The Taj Mahal (Scott 220) stamp of 1949 is part of India’s first regular Archaeology series, with 19 stamps issued from August 15, 1947 to April 30, 1951. This was India’s first set of stamps after gaining independence from Great Britain. The high value 5-rupee stamp was used mainly for heavy parcels.
Greece (No. 2) – Part of a set of seven National Products stamps of 1953, this Bread and Grapes stamp (Scott 554) has the highest catalog value ($37.50 mint) in Stamp Madness. Other stamps in the set depict olive oil, tobacco, and wine.
Chad (No. 3) – The Potter stamp (Scott 96) is part of a set of four from 1964 showing craftworks of the native ancient Sao people (sixth century B.C. to 1600 A.D.) The other stamps are Boatmaker, Weaver, and Smiths. The stamp was engraved by Georges Bétemps, who created many stamps for Iceland, Monaco, France, its colonies and former colonies. Imprimerie Chaix of Paris was the printer.
United Arab Republic (No. 4) (listed behind Syria in the Scott catalog): The 60p Minerva, Greco-Roman statue, (Scott 9) in a 1958 set of nine. From 1958 to 1961, Syria and Egypt issued stamps jointly as the UAR. Other artifacts shown in the set include a statue of the Sumerian Goddess of the Springs, a Greco-Roman statue of Minerva and a section of mosaic from the Omayed Grand Mosque.
Switzerland (No. 1) – A set of 12 definitives – including the 5-cent Viaducts near St. Gallen (Scott 329) – focused on Technology and Landscapes, was issued of August 1, 1949. All of the denominations were issued in sheets of 50, but they were primarily intended for dispensation in vending machines. Other stamps in the set included a Rotary Snow Plow, Rhine Harbor at Basel, and Railway Viaduct Near Filisur. Designer and engraver was Karl Bickel.
France (No. 2) – A single stamp featuring Irises (Scott 1244) was issued April 12, 1969 at the International Floral Exhibition in Paris. Just like our contestant from Laos, Jean Pheulpin (1907-1991) was the engraver. The acclaimed Parc Floral de Paris, a park and botanical garden, opened in conjunction with the show.
Portugal (No. 3) – The $1.40 Coach stamp (Scott 744), an 18th-century carriage, in the 1952 Royal Coach Museum set of eight. Designed by surrealist artist Candido Costa Piñto (1911-77).
Great Britain (No. 4) – The 1970 British Rural Architecture set of four stamps (Scott 608 to 611) show homes in two sizes with four values. The smaller two, including the low-value 5-cent showing Fife Harling, were designed by David Gentleman. Fife is an area of Scotland where one finds harling, an exterior building-surfacing technique. The two high-value stamps were designed by Sheila Robinson.
Japan (No. 1) – This 1962 stamp (Scott 760) depicts a lone boatman, with Mount Tsukuba in the background at Suigo Quasi-National Park, in the Kanto region of Honshu. The park was established in 1953 to protect natural areas and cultural heritage of Lake Kasumigaura in Ibaraki Prefecture and the Tone River basin.
United States (No. 2) – Project Mercury (Scott 1193), perhaps the United States’ most hush-hush stamp project ever. Charles Chickering, the stamp’s designer, and the engraver worked in secret. The locked-away Giori press was used to quietly print the stamp. Minutes after John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth on February 20, 1962, the Post Office issued the Project Mercury stamp.
Laos (No. 3) – A set of seven Asian Elephants, including this handsomely dressed pachyderm (Scott 42), was issued in 1958. That year, engraver Jean Pheulpin (see French entry) received first prize for best French philatelic art for a stamp in this set.
New Zealand (No. 4) – Southern Alps and Chapel (Scott 256) is part of the New Zealand Peace and Victory stamps of 1946, a set of 11 produced by Bradbury Wilkinson. The 9-cent stamp, dubbed A Spirit of Thankfulness, shows the chapel window at Waiho Gorge. The Franz Josef Glacier can be seen through the window.
The Stamps and the Brackets
Choosing the field of just 16 special stamps for 2017 Stamp Madness wasn’t easy. Think about it: hundreds of thousands of stamps created worldwide since 1840. We needed a few guidelines to narrow the field.
These were the basic factors we used:
• Standard postage stamps only; no airmail, express mail, revenue stamps, etc.
• No specific images of individuals – kings, queens, scientists, musicians, etc.
• Avoid masterwork paintings and photos (statuary and buildings OK).
• Tried to be diverse to designs, colors, topics, and countries. Independent countries only, no colonies.
• No rarities; common stamps only.
• Stamps chosen are from post-WWII through 1970.
As it worked out, there are four general brackets based on geography: the Americas, Europe, Pacific, and Africa-to-India. The first two rounds have the Americas vs. Africa-to-India and Europe vs. Pacific. The top seeds will play the lowest seeds from the opposing bracket in Round 1.