US Stamps

Stamp collector Kelley assumes chair of CSAC after joining committee in 2021

Oct 27, 2023, 8 AM
Joseph L. Kelley, a respected physician and avid stamp collector, has been named chair of the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee. Kelley was appointed to the committee in 2021. Photo courtesy of Joseph Kelley.

By Allen Abel

Respected Pittsburgh physician and philatelist Joseph L. Kelley, the grandson of a stamp dealer on New York City’s famed Nassau Street, has been elevated to a three-year term as chair of the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, the United States Postal Service announced on Oct. 20. Kelley has been a member of the committee since 2021.

Kelley succeeds Bolivar Jose “BJ” Bueno, who completed his term as chairman.

“I was shocked and humbled,” Kelley told Linn’s Stamp News after the announcement was made. “What a great privilege it has been to be placed on the committee. In my medical career, I have met some of the rock stars of medicine, and now I have met the rock stars of the Postal Service.”

“Kelley is a stamp collector,” the USPS said in a press release. “His collection includes stamps from the United States, including U.S. Fish & Wildlife federal duck stamps, as well as the United Nations, Ireland, Vatican City and the Antarctic territories. He’s particularly interested in stamps related to the COVID-19 pandemic and honoring Mother Teresa. He recently became interested in stamps made of leather or other unusual materials.”

The new chairman told Linn’s that he began collecting as a boy when he and his brother were given a Harris album by their grandmother, who bought and sold stamps on Nassau Street under the name “D.W. Kelley.”

“But then I went to college, then medical school and my medical residency, and all that fell by the wayside,” he said.

Kelley credited his wife, Karen Dunn Kelley, deputy secretary of commerce during the Donald Trump administration, for suggesting that he resume collecting as a way to decompress from the stresses of his work as a specialist in gynecologic oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

“I was spending so many hours at the hospital, and then coming home and spending more hours waiting to go back to the hospital,” Kelley said. “It was like sitting on a bubble and waiting for the bubble to burst.”

Each year, CSAC, whose members are appointed by the postmaster general, receives tens of thousands of suggestions from the public for future stamp issues. Only a tiny fraction of proposed stamp subjects are passed on for final review and approval by the postmaster general.

“We can’t make everybody happy,” Kelley said.

“Anyone can submit a suggestion to us,” he said. “The only thing I would not suggest is that they try to mount a letter campaign. Just one letter is enough.”

The committee was founded in 1957. Current members include American Philatelic Society president Cheryl Ganz, historian Kevin Butterfield and graphic designer Gail Anderson.

Former members include artist Andrew Wyeth, actors Karl Malden and Ernest Borgnine, author James Michener, and basketball coach Richard Frederick “Digger” Phelps.

Members of the public who are interested in submitting a proposal for a stamp must mail their suggestion to Stamp Development, Attn: Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, 475 L’Enfant Plaza SW, Room 3300, Washington, DC 20260-3501.

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