Too nice to use (June 5)

What in the world can be too nice to use? Exquisite china, high thread count bed sheets, crystal goblets or maybe it’s my new Black Heritage stamps. I am always excited about the new stamps that are issued by the United States Postal Service. Most recently I purchased a sheet of Marvin Gaye stamps and also stamps celebrating Gregory Hines. I love looking at these stamps and I wonder when I put them on a bill or a letter if the recipient looks at them and wonders about the person featured on the stamp.

The sheet of Marvin Gaye stamps gives you a little history: Marvin Gaye (1939-1984) was one of the most influential music performers of his generation. Also known as the “Prince of Soul,” he helped shape the buoyant sound of the Motown record label in the 1960s and broaden the scope of R&B music in the 1970s. Released in 1971, his expansive masterwork, “What’s Going On,” is widely considered one of the greatest recordings of American popular music. The stamp sheet is designed to resemble a sleeve of a 45 record; look closely if you buy an entire sheet. The picture of Gaye is a composite of many historic photographs of the artist. There are also many other collector pieces you can purchase with his photograph.

The Marvin Gaye stamp is a forever stamp as well as the Gregory Hines stamp. The Hines stamp is the 42nd stamp in the Black Heritage series. Hines (1946-2003) had a unique style of tap dancing, injecting new artistry and excitement into a traditional American form. The stamp features a 1988 photograph by Jack Mitchell that shows a smiling Hines on one knee in a red blazer and gray pants, with one foot raised to show the taps on the bottom of his shoe. Hines was nominated for Tony Awards in the 1970s for his performance in three Broadway musicals–“Eubie!”, “Coming Uptown,” and “Sophisticated Ladies.” He won a Tony Award in 1992 for his starring role in “Jelly’s Last Jam.”

I was a big fan of both men and I was ecstatic about the stamps. I use them sparingly. Go to the USPS website and see all of the collector pieces you can purchase. There are Dorothy Height stamps as well. You can even purchase the ceremony program from when the stamps were unveiled. Forever stamps are now .55 and a forever stamp is always equal in value to the current First Class Mail one-ounce price. Here is a little aside for you. It is not true that Black Heritage stamps are being discontinued; there are new ones each year. When you buy your stamps ask your post office what they have on hand.

I once heard someone say that they could not wait until President Obama is featured on a stamp. I did not want to interrupt her but the United Postal Service only puts people that are deceased on a stamp. Needless to say I am not in any hurry to see a stamp with Obama’s picture.

(Email Debbie at


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