US Stamps

By Michael Baadke

Stamp poll voters pick Christmas with Charlie Brown as their favorite U.S. issue of 2015

April 29, 2016 04:19 PM

  • A Charlie Brown Christmas was the overall favorite of Linn’s readers who voted in the 2015 Linn’s U.S. Stamp Popularity Poll. The 10 stamps marking the 50th anniversary of the television special also were picked as having the best design among definitive and special stamps.
  • The best design among 2015 United States commemorative stamps, according to voters in the Linn’s poll, was the set of four Gifts of Friendship stamps, a joint issue with Japan. This set also came in second in voting for the overall favorite issue of the year.
  • Stamps for the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War were selected as the most important commemorative issue of 2015.
  • The From Me To You forever stamp was rejected by voters in the Linn’s poll, who picked it as the worst design commemorative, and the least necessary commemorative of 2015.
  • Stamp artist Dan Cosgrove again found favor with Linn’s readers, who voted his design for the imprinted stamp on the $5.75 Glade Creek Grist Mill envelope as the best for postal stationery.

By Michael Baadke

Charlie Brown is a winner after all.

The comic strip character described on the Peanuts.com website as a “lovable loser” was chosen by Linn’s Stamp News readers as their overall favorite in the 2015 Linn’s United States Stamp Popularity Poll.

The set of 10 stamps titled A Charlie Brown Christmas took the top honors of the 33 stamp and postal stationery issues listed in the recent poll.

Voters also picked A Charlie Brown Christmas as the best definitive stamp design of the year, beating out the Summer Harvest stamps by a comfortable margin.

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The winning set features 10 different forever stamps depicting scenes from the 1965 animated television Christmas special starring the kids from the Peanuts comic strip by Charles M. Schulz. 

It’s not unusual that the 10-stamp set was picked by Linn’s readers. Collectors regularly favor stamp issues or sets with multiple designs rather than a single-design issue. Only three times since the favorite stamp category was established in 1984 has a single-design issue been picked as the overall favorite.

What is unusual is for the winner to come out of the definitive stamp category. In the Linn’s poll, definitive stamps and special stamps, including holiday stamps, are bundled together in a single voting category.

Commemorative stamps more commonly win the overall favorite stamp category, but the familiar and funny Peanuts characters clearly hold significant appeal for voters.

A Charlie Brown Christmas received 380 votes as the year’s overall favorite issue. The three runners-up in the category are the Gifts of Friendship set of four, a joint issue celebrating cooperation with Japan, which received 289 votes; the Civil War 1865 set of two with 175 votes; and another definitive set, the Summer Harvest set of four forever stamps, with 116 votes.

Readers of all ages mailed in a total of 1,477 ballots, almost identical to the mail-in total of 1,499 for the 2014 stamp poll.

More than 580 readers voted online this year, an increase of about 200 over last year’s online voting numbers.

Linn’s U.S. Stamp Popularity Poll, which began in 1948, is intended as a fun way for readers to voice their opinions about the U.S. stamp program. When the poll was first conducted, the categories consisted only of best stamp and worst stamp.

The poll is neither scientific nor statistically valid.

The tables provided here list the poll results for the overall favorite and for the three specific categories of commemorative stamps, definitive and special stamps, and postal stationery.

Commemoratives are usually printed once and are available at post offices for a short time. Definitives and special stamps are printed in larger quantities, often more than once, and are available for longer periods.

Within each of the three categories, voters could select the stamps or issues they felt had the best design and worst design, and the stamps or issues they considered the most important and least necessary.

A separate section on the ballot was reserved for the voter’s overall favorite 2015 stamp.

As in previous years, a few voters left some spots on their ballots unmarked, so the various totals often do not agree.

The totals reported here represent a combined total of the paper ballots mailed in by Linn’s readers and the votes cast online.

Online voting was introduced with the 1997 Linn’s U.S. stamp poll, but extreme online ballot box stuffing has taken place from time to time; when that happens, the online votes have been tallied separately.

Mail-in ballots and online votes were accepted from mid-December 2015 through March 1. The ballot was published weekly in Linn’s during the voting period.

Youth votes

The poll total includes 204 mail-in ballots from children, mostly from school classes and youth stamp clubs. This figure is close to the 215 youth ballots received in the 2014 stamp poll.

Youth votes are counted equally with all other votes, but they also are looked at separately by Linn’s editors to gauge how youngsters view the U.S. program.

The winner for youth overall favorite, with 29 votes, was the Gifts of Friendship set. Coming in close behind in second place was A Charlie Brown Christmas with 21 votes. Third place in the youth voting was won by the Emperor Penguins stamp for additional ounce postage.

The Gifts of Friendship issue was the overwhelming commemorative favorite for best design among youngsters, receiving 95 votes. The runner-up, the Year of the Ram stamp, collected just 19 votes.

Commemorative choices

In the general voting, the Gifts of Friendship stamps also landed at the top of the best-designed commemorative list, with 709 votes. Coming in at a distant second was the Civil War 1865 set, with 257 votes. Third place was claimed by the U.S. Coast Guard stamp, with 207 votes.

The voting for the worst-designed stamp was even more resounding, with 720 votes selecting the From Me To You issue as the worst-designed commemorative, more than one-third of all the votes in that category.

Almost 23 percent of the votes for worst-designed commemoratives went to the pair of World Stamp Show-NY 2016 stamps, which received 448 votes to place second in the category.

Stamps with themes of military history claimed the top four spots in the most-important commemorative category: The Vietnam War Medal of Honor stamp came in first with 534 votes, followed by Civil War 1865 with 572, War of 1812 Battle of New Orleans with 175, and U.S. Coast Guard with 148. The combined total of these four issues in the most-important stamp category claimed more than 72 percent of the vote.

The fifth most important stamp according to voters’ preferences was the Forget-Me-Not Missing Children stamp, which received 134 votes.

The From Me To You stamp suffered a double blow by coming in as the overwhelming choice for least necessary commemorative, attracting 730 votes.

The Elvis Presley stamp in the Music Icons series was voted the second least necessary stamp, with 375 votes.

Although the 29¢ Elvis stamp issued in 1993 was one of the biggest U.S. commemorative sellers of all time, it also fared poorly with stamp poll voters, coming in as the least necessary commemorative in that year’s Linn’s poll.

Definitive preferences

A Charlie Brown Christmas was the best design winner among definitive stamps in 2015, with 510 votes, almost exactly one-fourth of the votes cast in that category.

Second place for best design went to the Summer Harvest stamps with 383 votes, followed by the Water Lilies stamps with 192.

Linn’s readers cast 606 votes to bestow the title of worst-design definitive to the Patriotic Waves stamps, the $1 and $2 definitives with abstract geometric patterns in red and blue.

The most important definitive stamp of 2015 was the Stars and Stripes issue, a set of three coil stamps each showing segments of the American flag. With 546 votes, Stars and Stripes had a comfortable lead over A Charlie Brown Christmas, which earned 419 votes in the same category.

Collectors cast 409 votes, about one-fifth of all votes in the category, to pick the Patriotic Waves stamps as the least necessary definitive issue. 

Coming in second, with 272 votes, was the Geometric Snowflakes set of four, issued when the Charlie Brown Christmas set was already available at post offices.

The fact that Patriotic Waves were selected as worst design and least necessary recalls the similar 2012 Waves of Color stamps, which topped the charts as the worst design and least necessary issue of that year.

Assessing postal stationery

The postal stationery categories had just four contenders in 2014: the $5.75 Glade Creek Grist Mill stamped envelope, the Water Lilies forever stamped envelope, the Fanciful Flowers postal card, and the Forget-Me-Not stamped envelope.

That was the order in which voters picked the postal stationery for best design. The Glade Creek Grist Mill envelope was the winner by far, with 1,116 votes compared with the Water Lilies runner-up with 326.

Collectors clearly enjoy artist Dan Cosgrove’s work: his $5.75 Glade Creek Grist Mill postage stamp was the winner of best design among definitive stamps in 2014.

The Fanciful Flower postal card was picked first in the worst design and least necessary categories, and the most important postal stationery item was the Forget-Me-Not Missing Children envelope.

Reader remarks

As in years past, some Linn’s readers included comments with their ballots, giving reasons for their votes and expressing opinions about the U.S. stamp program in general.

David Cohen wrote a note expressing appreciation of the Music Icons commemorative series, which offered the Elvis Presley stamp in 2015.

“I doubt many of my fellow readers agree with me, but I think it is one of the best U.S. series ever, both in terms of design and the way it honors a vital area of U.S. culture,” Cohen wrote.

His letter arrived franked with the Elvis stamp.

John G. Pearson wrote that “Elvis deserves note as a significant influence on American culture,” but he cast his vote for Elvis as least necessary because, “we’ve honored him before.”

Criticism of the World Stamp Show stamps was found in multiple letters. Sarah Noble wrote, “I think many philatelists found this issue disappointing, seeing it as boring and uninteresting even to stamp people and sensing that this issue would not attract nonphilatelists to the show in New York, nor to the hobby of stamp collecting.”

Steven Scheibner had praise for the Medal of Honor Vietnam War issue, which he picked as “the most important issue of 2015.”

“This stamp issue pays homage to those who earned the Medal of Honor,” Scheibner wrote, “and, indirectly, recognizes those who served.”

Like many voters, Diane Henicle enjoyed the stamps for Charlie Brown.

“The Charlie Brown stamps are well designed, colorful, eyecatching. Would have been better twice the size it was offered in, so the details stood out.”

Robert W. Martin runs a stamp collecting club for children in Hawaii, and sent in 31 ballots from the youngsters of the Kamali’i Elementary School, plus three adult ballots.

“For most of the children (maybe all of them) this was the first time they ever voted for anything,” Martin wrote.

The club meets every week in the school library.

Thanks to this year's participants

Thanks to all Linn’s readers who participated in this year’s poll. Special thanks go to teachers who distributed ballots to the students in their classes, and to stamp clubs that submitted ballots after distributing them to members during club meetings.

Participating groups that identified themselves include: American First Day Cover Society, Dallas, Texas; Annapolis Stamp Club, Annapolis, Md.; Ashland Coin and Stamp Club, Ashland, Ohio; Aurora Stamp Club, Aurora, Colo.; Baraboo Stamp Club, Baraboo, Wis., Calumet Stamp Club, Calumet, Ind.; Casper Stamp Club, Casper, Wyo.; Cedar Rapids Stamp Club, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Centerville Stamp Club, Richmond, Ind.; Euclid Stamp Club, Euclid, Ohio; Finger Lakes Stamp Club, Rochester, N.Y.; Flagler County Stamps and Coin Club, Palm Coast, Fla.;

Greater Mound City Stamp Club, St. Louis, Mo.; Johnstown Stamp Club, Johnstown, Pa.; Joplin Stamp Club, Joplin, Mo.; Kentucky Stamp Club, Frankfort, Ky.; Kiwanis Club of the Haddons, Burlington, N.J.; Lake Minnetonka Stamp Club, Minnetonka, Minn.; Long Beach Stamp Club, Long Beach, Calif.; Motor City Stamp and Cover Club, Detroit, Mich.; Naperville Area Stamp Club, Naperville, Ill.; Nevada Stamp Study Society, Sparks, Nev.; Oregon Stamp Society, Portland, Ore.; Philatelic Society of San Leandro, San Leandro, Calif.; Pottstown Stamp Club, Pottstown, Pa.;

Salvatore Mancini Resource and Activity Stamp Club, North Providence, R.I.; San Jose Stamp Club, San Jose, Calif.; San Luis Obispo Philatelic Society (SLOPS), San Luis Obispo, Calif.; Senior Center Stamp Club, Huntsville, Ala.; Spring Hill Stamp Club, East Dundee, Ill.; Spring-Ford Stamp Club, Pottstown, Pa.; Springfield Stamp Club, Fairfax, Va.; Tampa Collector Club, Tampa, Fla.; Tuscawaras Stamp Club, East Liverpool, Ohio;

Waltham Stamp Club, Framingham, Mass.; Waukesha County Philatelic Society, Waukesha, Wis.; Williamsburg Stamp Society, Williamsburg, Va.; World Wide Stamp Club, Dunedin, Fla.

Voting in Linn’s U.S. Stamp Popularity Poll for 2016 is scheduled to begin in December.