The Statue of Liberty replica in Las Vegas is close but not perfect. This tipped off stamp fans to a big mistake by the USPS. Image: emmandevin / Flickr / CC BY

In December of 2010, The United States Postal Service issued a new set of “Forever” stamps. These stamps were supposed to feature the U.S. flag and Statue of Liberty. A group of stamp experts, however, has identified the Statue of Liberty pictured on the stamp as the statue in Las Vegas, not New York.

Statue of Liberty stamp

The Statue of Liberty image featured on the latest “Forever” stamp has already been printed. Issued in rolls of 100, approximately 1.5 billion of the stamps have been printed and distributed. Stamp collectors in the publication Linn’s pointed out that the Statue of Liberty on the stamp appears to be the statue in front of the New York New York casino in Las Vegas rather than the New York City icon. Several factors make it apparent. First, there is a rectangular patch on the statue’s crown that appears only in the Las Vegas version. Second, the eyes and facial features on the statue on the stamp seem much more defined than the New York statue. Lastly, the look of the hair on the stamp is closer to the Las Vegas statue than the New York statue.

Where the USPS got the Statue of Liberty image

The Statue of Liberty image used on the USPS stamp is by photographer Raimund Linke. The image appears to have been found or licensed through the stock photography service Getty Images, where the image is still available for licensing for other uses. While the exact terms of the contract the USPS licensed the image under are not known, similar licensing of the image would cost most consumers about $3,000. The Postal Service usually pays about $5,000 to artists who design a stamp’s image. The tags, keywords and description of the image all describe the subject as the replica statue in Las Vegas. The Postal Service spokesperson, Roy Betts, indicates that Getty Images had not indicated the subject of the photo as a replica until the mistake had been pointed out.

What the Statue of Liberty stamp means

Though there is a huge debate among stamp circles about the Statue of Liberty stamp, the real effect is relatively minimal. The replica Statue stamps are likely to have a slightly increased value on the secondary stamp-collecting market because they have received wider-than-usual national attention. The Post Office is also not likely to re-print the stamp, and therefore there will be a limited supply. The USPS is also likely to institute stronger reviews of the artwork used on stamps. In the end, though, the Statue of Liberty incident will likely end up being a tempest in a little postage-stamp sized teapot.


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