US Stamps

July cartoon caption contest stirs up postal protest stamp

Jun 24, 2024, 4 PM

U.S. Stamp Notes by John M. Hotchner

A Linn’s reader recently shared the cover shown here, asking what current U.S. stamp could be used to protest today’s diminishing postal service at a time when postal rates are rising.

The cover was sent June 21, 1971, a little more than a month after the first-class postage rate had increased from 6¢ to 8¢. On the cover, the 8¢ Dwight David Eisenhower definitive (Scott 1394) is placed upside down with this message below it: “INVERT IKE UNTIL U.S. MAIL IMPROVES/No Disrespect To The General.”

From my perspective, the ideal postal protest stamp would be one showing Benjamin Franklin.

In July 1775, the Continental Congress appointed Franklin as the first postmaster general over what would become the U.S. Post Office Department.

Unfortunately, in modern times, the Founding Fathers have all but disappeared from our definitive stamps.

Franklin and George Washington last appeared together on stamps in the 2016 Classic Forever pane of six (Scott 5079).

Before that, the last Washington stamps were 20¢ postcard-rate definitives (Scott 4504, 4512) issued in 2001, and the last Franklin stamps were in a block of four (4021-4024) issued in 2006 to commemorate his 300th birth anniversary.

Those 39¢ stamps show Franklin as a statesman (Scott 4021), scientist (4022), printer (4023) and postmaster (4024).

The Postmaster stamp is the cartoon caption contest stamp for July.

Franklin is credited with being both an innovator and what might be called an efficiency expert today.

In an era when the mail was the main way that families could communicate and businesses interacted with their widely dispersed customers, the mail was a critical element in what has been called “binding the Nation.”

It was Franklin who guided the development of the postal system for the first year and laid the foundation for the strong service organization it became.

What must he think of the postal system as it exists today? Put yourself behind Franklin’s spectacles and tell me what he might be thinking or saying as he gazes into the future.

You can also reflect on his other roles as a statesman, scientist or printer to comment on anything else going on today.

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

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

If you send an email, it is essential that you include your postal mailing address.

For each winner, the prize will be a 13-week subscription to Linn’s (a new subscription or an extension). Entries must reach me no later than July 26.

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