Simpson Stamps Simpson Stamps
Cartoon Culture

D’oh! U. S. Postal Service Printed 682 Million Extra “Simpsons” Stamps

Apparently, people who watch The Simpsons don’t like to mail letters. According to the Washington Post, the U. S. Postal Service had anticipated it would sell 1 billion commemorative stamps featuring characters from The Simpsons. They sold less than a third of that and ending up destroying 682 million unsold stamps, which had cost them $1.2 million to print.

  • Why exactly do they destroy unsold stamps? Couldn’t they just continue selling them until they are gone… no matter how long it takes? I am pretty sure that’s what they do here in Germany… Does anyone have an idea?

    • John A

      The reason they were not sold is that by the time they had been printed the postal rates had changed, and the now obsolete 44 cent stamps couldn’t be used without adding additional postage. Ultimately the post office came up with the ‘forever’ stamp, meaning regardless of what you paid for the ‘forever’ stamp, its value will keep pace with whatever arbitrary postal hikes may occur in the future. If the Simpsons stamps had been printed after the “forever’ policy had been implemented, there would have been no problem.

      • Funkybat

        Still, it seems stupid to destroy them if they were already printed. Obsolete first-class stamps could just be sold with notation of them as such, so that collectors and people who don’t mind tacking on a 2 or 3 cent stamp alongside could use them.

      • James

        I agree with John A. “Forever stamps” should be the new standard for these sorts of commemorative stamps that would prevent such wastage by the U.S. postal service, allowing them to be sold until they ran out rather than being near-worthless after the next postage increase.

      • See Wan Sun

        Haha, Funkybat, I agree! I’m sure the 682 million collectors such as yourself would surely be willing to keep a few penny stamps around just so they could have Simpson stamps.

  • Maybe they destroy them as a tax write-off or something? Kind of like how they destroyed the Apple Lisa machines and the ET Atari 2600 video game?

    I actually liked these stamps and wanted to keep a few just for fun. They’d go nice with my other animated stamps like the Pixar set.

  • Anna

    …that can’t look with their already “we’re going bankrupt!!!” money problems

  • MP

    Anybody else think they look a bit off model? For one thing Bart only has 7 spikes of hair instead of 9. Homer looks like a Herge imitator drew him, and Marge’s pupils are going haywire.

    • Funkybat

      I think the reason for that is (correct me if I’m wrong) I believe Matt Groening himself drew these specially for the stamps. It was probably his decision to have Homer mid-burp, instead of a more conventional pose. What we today think of as “on-model Simpsons” are designs that Matt himself admitted he can’t draw as neatly and consistently as the artists under his leadership. I personally wish Matt’s hand had stayed more involved in the “models.” The Simpsons got too sharp and stiff over a decade ago.

      • Mike

        My thoughts exactly, Funkybat.

        I especially like the look of the characters around season three and four. There was a loose, almost rubber hose movement about them, and the pupils were slightly larger. It made them look like bona fide cartoon characters rather than the stiff refrigerator magnets they are today.

      • Chris Sobieniak

        I like Marge’s look here as it was pretty much how they did the goofy photos on the wall in the first season. Everyone always had unusual faces/expressions in those picture frames.

  • Remember when the Postal Service used to do commemoratives about the Pony Express? The Wright Bros.? Ben Franklin’s kite and key experiment? I just don’t think The Simpsons are in their league, and don’t really belong on postage stamps. Now maybe they should have engraved Homer’s portrait in steelpoint on the stamps, that might have been more in keeping with good stamp design.

    • Funkybat

      You’re thinking of the Post Office Department. That was a Federal agency with a Cabinet position. The “U.S. Postal Service” is a semi-privatized Frankenstein that features the worst of both worlds, private & public. The past 20 years especially have forced the USPS to prostitute themselves out to whatever seems to be commercially appealing, trying desperately to appear cool, current, and media-savvy. I still can’t forgive them for featuring merchandise of those atrocious live-action Dr. Seuss movies. I think there was even a cancellation stamp!

      I too miss the days of stodgy memorials to historical events and dead people, but when you’re expected to pay your own way with no taxpayer support, these kinds of crappy compromises become very alluring.

      • Chris Sobieniak

        It’s really sad though.

  • They should have printed up some Itchy and Scratchy 3 cents stamps to go with it, then they’d still be useful.

  • John

    That’s a stupid amount to print anyway. Not even the top selling stamp of all time reached a billion in sales even when the Postal Service wasn’t in such a massive decline.

  • Mel

    The Washington Post may have floated this story as fodder for those who want the US Postal Service privatized. It will be run more smoothly by commercial entrepreneurs and it will cost people five bucks a pop to mail a letter.

    • Satorical

      What do you mean by ‘more smoothly?” The Post Office pretty much rocks at delivering stuff on time for cheap.

      I loved my Simpsons stamps. I used ’em all.

  • It’s a shame! These were drawn by Matt Groening :(

  • T Maynard

    That many stamps has a face value of over $3 million. They should have turned it over to congress to help pay off that 75 years of healthcare pre-payments that congress forces the postal service (and no other agency or business) to pay.

  • Arturo

    What??… Still there are people that watch the Simpsons?…

    • Jeff

      Yes. That’s why it is still on the air. Despite the sharp decline in the quality of the episodes in recent years, it it still better than 90% of what is on TV (e.g., “reality” shows, etc.).

  • wever

    …. iiiiiiiiis… this news? How many stamps exactly do post offices sell on a regular basis? This all seems very strange, even moreso because The Simpsons is obviously popular.

  • TimeForTimer

    My guess is the Post Office’s deal with FOX was for a specific period of time after which they could no longer sell the stamps. That, coupled with obvious low sales, and the fact that the stamp price may have changed could have be the reasons.

    I bought the stamps, but didn’t really like them. They were smaller stamps than the usual collectors series they release.

  • Eman

    Oh yay.
    More wasted government money.

  • I don’t wish ill on the post office or the Simpsons, but I think this is karma telling the USPS that debasing and commercialzing the process by which things and personages are selected to be honored on stamps has its downsides. Let’s remember: It was only in 1995 that the post office first put comics characters on stamps, and at first, it only wanted to do it with characters invented by dead people.

  • Adele

    Weird that they destroyed them. When I get packages from the UK, they are covered in stamps of different costs to make up for the price…even if it is over by one pence, it still gets to where it’s going.

    Maybe because they didnt look like their current models, no one bought them. To me they look like the Simpsons as it started when I was 10 and I remember all the model stages they went through. But to anyone now, this might not appeal.

    That might have been more interesting, a set of stamps with 4 different Homers, Marges, Barts etc…collect them all!

    Sad though.

  • This is America! We grind up losers who can’t make us money!