Who’s Collecting Janis, Stamps and Vinyl?

I like stamps. Especially postage stamps from foreign countries. It’s kinda like currency. It tells a story, or at least begs one to understand the meaning of the stamp artwork.

I don’t like digital stamps, those barcoded adhesives that can be purchased at self-serve USPS mailing machines—or those that the postal clerk will stick on your package or envelope after you’ve waited in line to mail something.

I do like that the postal clerks always ask if I need any stamps. Usually I don’t. That is, I keep stamps at home for those occasional times I need to mail something. But that’s becoming less frequent, sadly, at least, for the fate of stamps.

Yet, the USPS understands this and invests in creating collector series of stamps. Do people still collect stamps? Are they aging and a, [insert cough sound here] a dying breed? Do millennials collect stamps?

Millennials are buying vinyl records and turntables. So maybe the do.

Just last week I said “yes” to Lynn, the sweet Vietnamese postal worker at my local Leucadia post office. “Yes, I need stamps.” She’s the only one that works there. The lines can get long there too. I sometimes worry, or at least wonder, that the USPS in its seemingly never-ending string of losses will close my little post office. Where will Lynn go?

She showed me the stamps available. Single stamps adhered to counter display. Lynn offered a choice of nearly dozen designs. The line was growing behind me, so I made a quick decision, “I’ll take Janis.” The last stamps I had were from Ringling Brothers circus poster designs. Very vintage and in varying sizes, too.

The sheet of stamps with Janis that she handed me was more than a “sheet of stamps.” I was amazed at the cleverness, or perhaps I was nostalgic, of the design. But square sheet of stamps was nearly the size of a 45 rpm record jacket, the kind I used to find in my uncle’s, and even my brother’s collection. I remember the one for the Beatles single “Let It Be.” It was black and had a two-by-two grid of photos—about passport size—of Paul, John, George, and Ringo. On the other side of the jacket, imprinted in color on black, was the Beatles “logo”. The jacket, like an envelope, with one open end, was slightly notched with a serpentine cut, making it easy to slide the black vinyl record out.

Though vinyl records are making a hit with millennials and many audio and high-fidelity purists, it’s an odd trend. More young people play video games than outdoor games—that is my perception. I’m sure annual sales revenue for such games far exceeds the sales of baseball bats, basketballs, soccer balls, and the like. I’ve got no data to prove the theory. What do you think?

Back to Janis. So here’s this sheet of stamps that looks like a record sleeve. It is so cleverly designed to show discoloration that appears to be from the worn impression of the round vinyl disc. On one side of the sheet of stamps are the perforated self-adhesive stamps, 20 of them. The other side is a picture of Janis looking about as young as the last picture I saw of Amy Winehouse. About the age of an aging millennial, I guess.

So there you have it. Vinyl has just about gone away except for a niche obsession with it. And stamps? At least someone in the post office and the wacky world of collectibles that someone with obsession and passion is creating unique designs and keeping the nostalgia alive—and fresh.

Maybe you can help. When is the last time you sent someone a letter? A card? Something personal? Get a sheet of some cool stamps, and make someone smile!



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