THE AYN RAND
POSTAGE STAMP FOR 1999

PRODOS talks about the forthcoming Ayn Rand postage stamp to Jackie, from the Kansas City, Missouri office of the United States Postal Service. The Ayn Rand Stamp is due to be released in 1999 as part of the US Postal Service's Literary Arts Stamp series.

This interview was recorded at about 7am Melbourne time on Wednesday the 25th November 1998 and then broadcast later that afternoon on The PRODOS Connection on Melbourne Radio (97.4 FM) for the Philosophically Speaking segment.

PRODOS: (Introduce Philosophically Speaking segment, introduce Jackie . . .)
This is very significant news and regular listeners to the show know that we do an Ayn Rand segment every week. What an important cultural step. Hi Jackie.
JACKIE: Hi, how are you doing?
PRODOS: Excellent, how's the weather in Kansas City?
JACKIE: Well believe it or not we're having sunny weather today.
PRODOS: Well we're in the middle of Spring and it's been raining in Melbourne.
JACKIE: Normally these are very cold times, you know, below zero and lots of snow.
PRODOS: Ah, you have snow up there? We don't get snow in Melbourne.
JACKIE: I know. I watch Crocodile Rescue Guy on TV.
PRODOS: I never watch that, we're too busy actually living it down here (laughter).
(Actually I've never even heard of it before! What on earth could it be? God only knows. Americans must think we're rather quaint.)

PRODOS: Jackie, are you familiar, yourself, with Ayn Rand?
JACKIE: Well, not as much as you uhmm . . .
(Jackie doesn't miss a beat. She's gets right on the job . . . )
. . . but we do have that stamp available April 22nd of 1999 when it will go on sale. And it's going to be a full sheet of 20 stamps at 33 cents American (each stamp) and it can be ordered from anywhere in the United States, actually from anywhere in the world. People can order from our facility here in Kansas City.

PRODOS: So, you can order it over the internet?
JACKIE: Yes, you can order it over the internet. And you should be able to see the colour picture there (on the internet) too.
PRODOS: Yes, I've looked it up. It's very impressive. The artist in Nicholas Gaetano who apparently also has illustrated some of the new book jackets for the recent editions of Ayn Rand's books. What do you think of the artwork Jackie?
JACKIE: It's very attractive. I think it's a nice looking stamp, yeah.
PRODOS: It's a good likeness of Ayn Rand actually. It captures her . . . well people often comment about her eyes . . . her big all-seeing eyes. So it's got a nice emphasis there and I notice the skyscrapers in front of her portrait which of course, well Ayn Rand was very big on technology and industrial civilisation - so that's a good bit of symbolism.

PRODOS: How does the US Postal Service go about choosing a stamp for its collection? There must be a massive process that goes on behind the scenes.
JACKIE: Yes, and it's very lengthy too. We have a committee. It's called the Stamp Advisory Committee. Actually the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee and that group of committee members consist of, sometimes heads of state, businessmen, private industry . . . . So it's not just plain postal people who decide . . .
PRODOS: It's not the local mailman who does it?
JACKIE: No, not at all (laughter). No, in fact most of these people don't even work for the post office.
PRODOS: Sure.
JACKIE: And they do say that they do require you to submit an idea for a stamp commemorating a person such as Ayn Rand or an event, at least three years in advance - or for a celebration of whatever you're proposing.
PRODOS: So this particular stamp has been proposed about three years ago? Would that be correct?
JACKIE: At least.
PRODOS: At least!
JACKIE: It could have been done before that but they (The US Postal Service) could have just waited for a more opportune time to issue this stamp.
PRODOS: Right. That's a pretty lengthy process.

PRODOS: The members of the committee, how are they chosen?
JACKIE: Well sometimes the President of the United States chooses them (P: Woah!) as with our Postmaster. In fact we just recently had a new Postmaster assigned to the Postal Service our other one decided to retire (This Jackie is cute. Sort of proper and doing her best.). The Postal Advisory Committee tries to keep all types of people, interests and designs in mind. There's Historians on this Committee, Artists, Businesspeople and people who are really interested in American history and culture.

JACKIE: A lot of people are under the impression that United States stamps are only US citizens or people born in the United States and, as you can tell, that is not true. We have a lot of foreign dignitaries that are commemorated on a United States stamp.
PRODOS: Well that's not so surprising since the United States is such an important player in world affairs. In a sense the acknowledgement of the United States (by inclusion on a postage stamp) is a quite a cultural and politically symbolic step. To be acknowledged on a US stamp signifies a relationship or affinity or connection with the person being commemorated and American cultural.

PRODOS: Tell me, the process chosen, say, with selecting an Ayn Rand stamp is that documented? Can one, if one had the time and resources go back and work out who was the initial proposer of the stamp and what was the decision-making process that took place?
JACKIE: Yes.
PRODOS: One CAN do that?
JACKIE: Yes. I wouldn't think we'd have it ready yet because it's five months away before we issue this stamp.
PRODOS: So, when it's issued will the name of the people who proposed it also be released?
JACKIE: It sure will.

PRODOS: Wow.
JACKIE: In fact it probably could even be seen on the internet. But what I would be glad to do Prodos, is mail to you all the information we receive here in print and you could share it with your listeners and the citizens of Australia.
PRODOS: Jackie, you're a darling. OK once we go off air I'll give you my details. That'd be lovely.

PRODOS: I notice that there are quite a few non Ayn Rand type of stamps also being issued. I think when I was looking earlier on your website - I think there was a cartoon character also coming out as part of this collection. Was it Daffy Duck?
JACKIE: Yes. Daffy Duck is coming out in 1999 (she sounds like she thinks that is really cool).
PRODOS: So Ayn Rand's in good company!
JACKIE: (laughter) Oh yeah.
PRODOS: Or Daffy's in good company (laughter).
JACKIE: . . . What's Up Doc? . . . Bugs Bunny was in 1997, then we had Sylvester and Tweety. And 1999 will be Daffy Duck.

PRODOS: Are you a collector yourself Jackie? Of stamps?
JACKIE: Mostly of the unusual ones. But I prefer to collect teapots.
PRODOS: Fabulous!
JACKIE: That's what I like.
(I'm rather partial to teapots myself but we'd run out of time.)

PRODOS: Jackie thank you very much, it's been lovely talking to you . . .
(Off air Jackie tells me how appealing the Aussie accent is. I return the compliment. Yeah, love the sound of them Yankee gals!)

Post Script
If you'd like to find out why an Ayn Rand stamp is a good idea I reccommend you read what The Intellectual Activist has to say about it. Go there now.

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