When a public agency is drowning in red ink, including a $5 billion loss last year, it is understandable why it wants to turn to magic. No wonder the U.S. Postal Service plans to issue a Harry Potter Forever postage stamp. Since the boy wizard franchise has seemingly gone on forever, raking in an estimated $15 billion, the Postal Service wants to ride a very lucrative Firebolt broomstick.
Yet the decision to create a Potter stamp has not gone over well with some stamp collecting purists, who viewed the move as a crime against philatelism. "Harry Potter is not American. It's foreign, and it's so blatantly commercial it's off the charts," huffed John Hotchner, former president of the American Philatelic Society. To be sure, most of the many commemorative stamps have honored former presidents, historical figures, famous entertainers and athletes.
Not to quibble too much with an expert like Hotchner, but Harry Potter is not so much a foreigner but a fictional book and movie character. And Hotchner has his history wrong. The Postal Service has honored numerous foreign figures, including Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, Mother Teresa, and Queen Isabella of Spain.
Pop culture icons also have been on stamps, including Elvis Presley, Muppets creator Jim Henson and the Lone Ranger. Young Master Potter should feel right at home on the envelope delivering your electric bill.
If a Harry Potter Forever stamp helps a struggling Postal Service ease its financial woes, so much the better. But let's not get too carried away. A Justin Bieber stamp would be a lick too far.