US Stamps

‘American Queen’ ship on new Mighty Mississippi stamp, at first-day event

May 26, 2022, 9 AM
The Mighty Mississippi forever stamps were unveiled May 23 in Memphis, Tenn., with the paddle wheel riverboat the American Queen in the background. The boat was featured on one of the 10 stamps in the new United States issue. Photographs by Jay Bigalke.

By Jay Bigalke

It isn’t every day a commercial entity ends up on a United States postage stamp, but that is the case for one of the 10 newly issued Mighty Mississippi forever stamps. The stamps were dedicated May 23 in Memphis, Tenn.

The stamps feature 10 different photographs of the river from the states it flows through.

One of the photographs is of the American Queen, a riverboat that still sails today and was present for the stamp ceremony.

The photos nearby show the unveiling of the new stamps with the American Queen in the background, a picture of the American Queen taken after the ceremony and the new commemorative stamp showing the paddle wheeler.

It is important to note that the stamp honors the Mississippi River, not the boat that is a modern icon of the river.

But the depiction of the riverboat wasn’t overlooked. The issue date coincided with the docking of the American Queen at the Beale Street Landing where the ceremony was held, and John Waggoner, founder and chairman of American Queen Voyages, participated in the event.

Other participants from American Queen Voyages included the cruise director, the ensemble that performed the national anthem, and even the “riverlorian” (historian) who worked for the company.

Waggoner said at the event, “Our flagship American Queen is an iconic symbol of those mighty paddle-wheelers, and we are honored to have her grace the collection.”

A stamp pin handed out to attendees also highlighted the stamp showing the American Queen.

Five of the photographers who took some of the pictures used for the stamp pane and selvage were in attendance at the first-day event. All of them participated in the autograph line and were thrilled with the honor.

The dedicating official was Gary R. Barksdale, chief postal inspector for the United States Postal Service. Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland also participated.

Overall, approximately 200 people attended the outdoor ceremony.

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