US Stamps

By John M. Hotchner

What is Alexander Hamilton saying on this stamp?

January 29, 2017 07:00 PM

  • The cartoon caption contest stamp for February is the 1956 $5 Alexander Hamilton stamp in the Liberty series. One of our most prominent Founding Fathers, Hamilton is alive these days on the Broadway stage in the hit musical Hamilton. Put yourself in Hamilton’s shoes, and tell me what you might be thinking or saying about his place in history, his stamps, or his belting out songs on Broadway. Let your imagination run wild. There will be a prize for the best philatelic and best nonphilatelic lines. The rules to enter the contest are in the accompanying article. Entries must be received by Feb. 24 for a chance to win a prize.

By John M. Hotchner

Stamp collectors know Alexander Hamilton (circa 1757-1804) from his image on the $5 Liberty series definitive of 1956 (Scott 1053). 

It is a handsome portrayal, based on the 1806 painting by John Trumbull, and we will use it as the February cartoon caption contest stamp.

A Founding Father of the United States, Hamilton promoted and defended the Constitution via his writings in The Federalist Papers

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He also was the architect of the U.S. financial system, served as first secretary of the Treasury under President George Washington, and founded the U.S. Coast Guard and The New York Post newspaper.

Though 212 years in the grave, Hamilton is now enjoying a revival in the mind of the American public, thanks to the Broadway musical Hamilton, inspired by the 2004 biography by historian Ron Chernow.

The musical, by Lin-Manuel Miranda, has been both a critical and popular success since its opening in 2015.

If you can suspend disbelief long enough to translate that image on the $5 stamp to a singing character on the stage, perhaps the musical is for you. But be prepared to shell out $200 (if you can find tickets at all) for just the cheap seats. 

For this month’s cartoon caption contest, transport yourself back to around 1800, and let me know what you believe Hamilton might be saying or thinking about the newly minted United States, his appearances on U.S. stamps, or his place in the pantheon of Founding Fathers.

Alternatively, you might have him address the current political situation, his musical, or the U.S. Postal Service.

There will be two prizes given: one for the best philatelic line, and one for the best nonphilatelic line. 

The important thing is to use your sense of humor, because entries with a humorous twist have the best chance of winning a prize. 

Put your entry (or entries) on a postcard if possible and send it to me, John Hotchner, Cartoon Contest, Box 1125, Falls Church, VA 22041-0125, or email it to me. If you send an email, be sure to include your mailing address.

For each winner, the prize will be the book Linn’s Stamp Identifier, published by Linn’s (a retail value of $12.99), or a 13-week subscription to Linn’s (a new subscription or an extension).

To be considered for the prizes, entries must reach me no later than Feb. 24.

Why not enter now, while you’re thinking about it?