Proficiat Postaliosa! If Harry Potter commemorative stamps can cast a solvency spell on the
The stamps, depicting scenes from the movies based on J.K. Rowling's books, went on sale in late November despite vehement opposition from some serious stamp collectors, who objected that they were both un-American and crassly commercial. Michael Baadke, the editor of Linn's Stamp News, summarized the collectors' arguments when he wrote that Harry Potter postage was "dismissing significant established U.S. stamp traditions without explanation."
"These U.S. stamps picture living actors from other countries, something that is unprecedented," according to Baadke. "The films the stamps honor have little to do with American culture."
The classicists say that the post office is placing quick profits above tradition, which has typically, though not always, called for stamps to feature the nation's government and cultural leaders, or events in U.S. history such as the first flight or statehood anniversaries.
Indeed, the Potter stamps combined all the ingredients guaranteed to upset traditionalists — commercial, photographic rather than artistic, and foreign to boot.
But the truth is that when it comes to American stamps, the definition of American culture has expanded dramatically in recent years to include muscle cars and Disney and "Simpsons" characters. In 2007, the intergalactic characters of
Certainly, the new Harry Potter stamps are no more commercial than the