US Stamps

Advertising with U.S. commemorative stamps

May 22, 2023, 8 AM

U.S. Stamp Notes by John M. Hotchner

Using stamps to sell (somewhat) related products was not unusual when stamps cost 3¢ each, but not so much now as the first-class letter rate pushes ever upward.

I have two examples from the good old days, 1958 and 1966, to share in this column.

The connection between the stamp subject and product can be direct as it is in Figure 1. The letter is dated May 6, 1958, and includes the United States 3¢ stamp (Scott 1104) promoting the Brussels Universal and International Exhibition held in Belgium. The stamp, shown in Figure 2, had been released less than a month earlier, on April 17, 1958.

The advertiser is James H. Carr Inc. of Washington, D.C., which produced the Kalwall translucent wall panes used in the great bicycle wheel roof of the U.S. pavilion at the Brussels World’s Fair.

The letter says of the product: “The Brussels job is not a special installation. It is made from our regular production panels and can be applied to your every day architectural requirements for schools, commercial and industrial buildings for walls and roofs.

“This sandwich material of polyester fiberglass bonded to an aluminum core is light, strong, rigid and a good insulator.”

The connection between stamp and product can also be less direct as in the Figure 3 letter from the Mandel-Camras Machinery Co. of Chicago, which billed itself as “The Nation’s Market Place for Fine Used Machine tools.”

The letter is dated Nov. 3, 1966, but used the 1938 3¢ stamp (Scott 836) commemorating the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Swedish and Finnish settlement in Wilmington, Del., in 1638.

The stamp is shown in Figure 4. How does it relate to machine tools?

Here is creative copywriting at work: “In 1638 a colony of Swedes and Finns landed in America. The picture on this stamp is a reproduction of a painting by Stanley M. Arthurs.

“We have a colony of experts here at Mandel-Camras who are always ready to work with you on any of your equipment needs. …”

How many of these types of advertising letters have been preserved? No one knows; there is no catalog.

I buy them when I see them in dealer stocks, typically a couple a year and priced at a few dollars each. Often they are included with first-day covers. They certainly make for interesting extra pages in my album.

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