Stamp Madness — The Philatelic Final Four

The field in the American Philatelic Society’s 2017 Stamp Madness contest has been cut to just four stamps after an Elite Eight round that saw a couple of upsets, including a result that was tied online and broken by in-house votes at the American Philatelic Center.

The Stamp Madness Final Four pits the U.S. World’s Fair stamp of 1964 vs. Canada’s Eastern Farm of 1946 and the Elephant of Laos from 1958 against Southern Alps and Chapel from New Zealand.

Please vote via Facebook or Twitter to send your favorites to the championship round!

There were four brackets with four seeded contestants in each. The entire Europe and Afro-India fields have been eliminated, leaving stamps from the Americas and the Pacific divisions.

All of the second round matchups were close, including one — Laos vs. Japan — that was a tie in its online voting and was decided by live voting at APS headquarters. In another second-round matchup, No. 4 seed New Zealand turned back the pre-tournament favorite, U.S. Project Mercury, in a close battle.

Philatelic prizes will be awarded on a random drawing based on both our preview contest in which contestants picked the stamp they thought would win the game and from voting in the championship match.

But don’t hold back until the final to vote. Voting in the Philatelic Final Four will start tomorrow and is open through midnight, April 5.

Here are the capsule summaries of the Final Four contestants.

The Americas
United States (Seeded No. 1 in the Americas) – The artwork 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. The World’s Fair stamp defeated UAR in Round 1 and Greece in Round 2.

Canada (Seeded No. 2 in the Americas) – The Eastern (sometimes Ontario) Farm scene stamp (Scott 268) of 1946 defeated Chad in the first round and India in the second. The stamp illustrates vital farm products and activities. The scene is a composite from four photographs. The farm house is from a photograph taken in Eastern Ontario, the barn from a farm in Western Ontario, the silo from Central Ontario, and the ploughmen and horses from Quebec. Designed by Herman Herbert Schwartz, vignette engraved by Warrell Hauck, and printed by Canadian Bank Note Co.

Pacific
Laos (Seeded No. 3 in the Pacific) – A set of seven Asian Elephants (Scott 41-47), 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 (Seeded No. 4 in the Pacific) – 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 Guidelines
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. Here were the basic guidelines 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. Europe and Pacific vs. Africa-to-India. The top seeds will play the lowest seeds from the opposing bracket in Round 1.

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