US Stamps

By Michael Baadke

Another appearance by ‘young Elvis’ on new forever stamp for Presley

July 06, 2015 02:40 PM

  • The Elvis Presley forever stamp scheduled for release Aug. 12 will feature a black-and-white photograph of the singer taken in 1954 or 1955.

It’s young Elvis, once again.

The United States Postal Service has revealed the design of the Elvis Presley commemorative forever stamp that will be issued Aug. 12 in Memphis, Tenn.

For collectors who wondered if the upcoming stamp would show a portrait of “young Elvis” or “old Elvis,” the answer is definitely “young Elvis.”

The stamp uses a 1955 picture of Presley (some sources say 1954) taken by William Speer in a very early professional photo session when the singer was just 19 or 20 years old.

Speer reportedly shot 11 portraits in his Memphis studio, including five of Presley shirtless.

In the photo chosen by USPS art director Antonio Alcala and designer Leslie Badani for the stamp image, Presley is wearing a dark shirt and a white jacket. The original vertical photograph has been cropped to fit the square format of the Music Icons series stamp.

The image of Presley on the new stamp is even younger than the “young Elvis” depicted on the 29¢ stamp issued Jan. 8, 1993 (Scott 2721).

According to George Amick, writing in Linn’s U.S. Stamp Yearbook 1993, the earlier stamp’s watercolor and airbrush portrait of Presley by Mark Stutzman was based upon a black-and-white photograph that appears to date from the filming of the singer’s first motion picture appearance, Love Me Tender, from 1956.

Before that 1993 stamp was issued, Americans had an opportunity to vote for one of two designs depicting “young Elvis” (Stutzman’s portrait of the singer early in his career), or “old Elvis” (a portrait by John C. Berkey of Presley during his later career as a Las Vegas entertainer).

The “young Elvis” portrait was the overwhelming favorite, and the Postal Service apparently remembered the landslide vote for the younger image when selecting the design for this new stamp. 

The following text surrounds the 16 stamps on the pane: “During his illustrious career, rock-and-roll superstar Elvis Presley starred in dozens of feature films, won three Grammy Awards, and recorded 18 number one singles: Heartbreak Hotel / I Want You, I Need You, I Love You / Don’t Be Cruel / Hound Dog / Love Me Tender / Too Much / All Shook Up / (Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear / Jailhouse Rock / Don’t / Hard Headed Woman / A Big Hunk O’ Love / Stuck On You / It’s Now Or Never / Are You Lonesome Tonight? / Surrender / Good Luck Charm / Suspicious Minds.”

The first-day ceremony will take place on the morning of Aug. 12 at Presley’s Graceland mansion in Memphis, as part of this year’s Elvis Week celebration.

Priscilla Presley, who was married to Elvis from 1967 until 1973, will participate in the first-day ceremony, along with U.S. postmaster general Megan Brennan.

The Postal Service is encouraging the public to tweet on the subject using #ElvisForever.

In association with the stamp release, the Postal Service is offering a new 18-track Elvis Presley CD with many of Presley’s hits, and “a new performance of Elvis’ inspiring song If I Can Dream as you’ve never heard it before.“

The CD will be sold at “select post offices” for $9.99.