Maybe not everybody else knows about this, but I sure felt out of the loop when I discovered it. I saw my first PhotoStamp today. The photo’s of my uncle’s first grandchild. It was on a card he sent my mom. MY MOM knew about photostamps before I did. Sometimes, I get the false impression that because things in Altoona seem to move slowly, that things outside of Altoona also move slowly. Thinks like this forcefully shatter that illusion.
I’m not a philatelist, but my boss during my childhood job at River Runner’s Emporium in Durham was, so I’ve become at least peripherally aware of stamp-collecting issues. Even when we paid bills there, we never used “plain old” flag stamps because you never know where fellow philatelists might be working. What do custom-created stamps do to the whole idea of collecting stamps? I don’t know.
So, immediately upon seeing this, I went to stamps.com to check really on 2 things: The pricing, and the rules. Neither made me particularly happy. It costs more than double the cost of the postage to have your photo-stamps custom made. As the actual “postage” is the bar-code-y thing on the right, it’s really just digital postage plus a picture. I remember a Polaroid product from a couple years back that made similarly postage-stamp-sized pictures with sticky backs. I wonder what the consumable costs for that were. Maybe you could save money by taking your own pictures, printing them out and sticking them on your envelope next to your stamp.
But what really astounded me were the rules. I mean, I know, it’s going to be a public image that passes through the hands of government employees. Clearly, there have to be some rules. And I get that some sensitive government employees might not want to handle your pornographic images. But it’s not just pornographic images that are disallowed. It’s anything even sexually suggestive. I don’t know about you, but a LOT of things suggest sex to me. Your picture can’t be offensive (to WHOM?!), it can’t be “otherwise objectionable”. Maybe the concern isn’t the adult carriers, but it might be exposed to the child-labor sweat-shop style mail sorting rooms. Oops, that’s probably libelous — I can’t put that on the stamp either. One can’t even upload an image that’s deceptive. So much for optical illusions. Or, “Wait, I thought you had BLUE eyes. Your stamp LIED to me!”
As silly and over-the-top as those restrictions are, I was astounded by some of the later restrictions. No pictures of convicted criminals. So, I guess we know that my uncle’s granddaughter has not been caught yet!
No business content is allowed. This one I really don’t get. I’d think that a little Chaos Logo next to the stamp information would be just perfect for this sort of thing.
<img style=“display:block; margin:0px auto 10px; text-align:center;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;“src=“http://www.buyoutfootage.com/images/titles/pd/horror/hr_030/db_hr_030.gif” alt=“old horror film footage” />
And finally, the coup-de-gras, you agree not to use “any material that is vintage in appearance or depicts images from an older era”. I don’t know how long an “era” is, but I bet I couldn’t use my college pix. Especially the one of us gathered around my ’73 beetle. But does that mean I can’t even use a sepia tone photoshop filter?