Every now and then there is a rumor or urban legend about the demise of Black Heritage postage stamps. Normally, the legend goes something like this, “go out and buy the Black stamps because the United States Post Office throws them away.” If you go to the site that clears up Urban Legends you will find there is no truth in the rumor.
A few weeks ago I was in my local post office to mail a package. I picked up a free copy of “USA Philatelic,” the official source for stamp enthusiasts, and while I was there I bought a page of the new Jimi Hendrix forever stamp. I guess I am a light-weight enthusiast. I don’t collect stamps, but I am particular about the stamps that I buy and I have a framed sheet of Malcolm X stamps because I thought I would never see them again.
The Hendrix stamps are so cool. The new limited-edition Jimi Hendrix stamp, designed by artist Rudy Gutierrez, features a vibrant, colorful design fashioned to evoke the movement and rhythm of the late singer and pay homage to the psychedelic rock era of the 1960s.
The stamp pane, designed to resemble a vintage 45 rpm record sleeve, features a painting of Hendrix’s face surrounded by colorful swirls and small icons that reference song lyrics or aspects of Hendrix’s life. The various icons include flowers, a guitar, a mermaid and a butterfly. The stamp art shows Hendrix in performance, wearing one of his trademark vintage military jackets and playing one of his beloved white Fender Stratocaster guitars. On the reverse, the page of stamps looks like a kaleidoscope.
Hendrix was born in Seattle, Wash., Nov. 27, 1942. Originally named Johnny Allen Hendrix, his name was later changed by his father to James Marshall Hendrix. Entirely self-taught, he had to adjust his first right-handed guitar to his left-handed playing; he restrung it upside down and turned the instrument around to play it. The teenager soon began playing with bands in the Seattle area. Hendrix died in 1970, the year that I graduated from high school. I was a big Hendrix fan.
There are a few other new issues of stamps that you might be interested in: the Shirley Chisholm stamp is the 37th stamp in the Black Heritage series and honors Chisholm (1924-2005), the first Black woman elected to Congress in 1969. An outspoken politician, Chisholm advocated for women, people of color and the poor.
The latest issuance in the Distinguished Americans series is a .70 2-oz stamp honoring C. Alfred “Chief” Anderson (1907-1996), known as the father of Black aviation. During World War II, Anderson played a crucial role in training the nation’s first Black military pilots, the Tuskegee Airmen.
In the Literary Arts series author Ralph Ellison (1913-1994), best known for his 1952 novel “Invisible Man” which shed light on the African-American experience and set a new benchmark for all American novelists. By the way, the stamp is a .91 stamp. One important note, you can’t find these special stamps at all Post Offices, but always ask.
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