Postal Updates

Post office counter display magnet shows preliminary design for Hot Rods stamp

May 2, 2021, 6 PM

Editor's Insights — By Donna Houseman

I want to share with readers a stamp-related object that few of you may have seen or may have overlooked in your local post office.

In the Sept. 9, 2013, issue of Linn’s, associate editor Michael Baadke reported on what at that time was a new post office counter display created by the United States Postal Service.

Baadke explained, “The concept couldn’t be much simpler — or more effective. Colorful magnetic images, a little larger than actual postage stamps, cling to a red-white-and-blue counter sign with a bold banner: ‘Limited Edition Stamps, Now Available at this USPS Location.’ “

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Clerks at post office counters chose magnets that represented the stamps they had in their drawers. It was a quick and easy way for customers to see what was available, and the magnets made it easy for post office clerks to keep the display fresh and up to date.

To the best of our knowledge, the magnets are still being created for new stamp issues, but few post offices, if any, continue to use the metal post office counter sign boards.

A stamp collector friend of mine recently shared with me one of the magnets, this one created for one of the 2014 nondenominated (49¢) Hot Rods stamps (Scott 4908-4909).

The stamps were issued June 6, 2014, in double-sided panes of 20 (convertible booklet format). The designs feature two different styles of 1932 Ford “Deuce” roadsters shown from different angles. For many car enthusiasts, the 1932 Ford “Deuce” is the definitive hot rod.

Artist John Mattos of California digitally created the two illustrations used on the stamps. USPS art director Derry Noyes collaborated with Mattos on the stamp designs.

The stamps show one Ford “Deuce” in black with orange-red and yellow flames on the sides of the hot rod and the other “Deuce” in red.

The magnet is interesting because the design of the red “Deuce” differs from the red “Deuce” shown on the stamp. The magnet and the stamp show the hot rod from different angles.

The magnet shows a straight-on view of the car; the stamp shows a view taken from the front, but the angle of hot rod is different. The stamp design includes more of the passenger side of the car.

For some reason the USPS chose to show a preliminary design on the magnet rather than the stamp design as issued.

In my opinion, the design chosen for the stamp is the more interesting of the two concepts.

Once the stamps are taken off sale, the clerks are supposed to destroy the corresponding magnets, but some make it out the door of the post office as gifts or by other means.

If you can find them, these post office magnets can add a new dimension to your collection.