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Norton Starr's custom stamp of Vee-21 solution
 

It all started when Professor Norton Starr, a Kadon customer, discovered that stamps.com offered custom-designed postage stamps at a premium price. Norton had just commissioned Kadon to make a number of Vee-21 puzzles for his math class at Amherst College and was so pleased with one of its patterns that he decided to put it on a postage stamp (above). Now these are genuine, legal, official postage stamps, privately printed in limited quantities but nevertheless recognized and authorized by the U.S. Postal Service.

The following year was Kadon's 25th anniversary, and what could be cooler than to have that commemorated on a stamp? Kate set out to submit a suitably distinctive design. The first two attempts were rejected, presumably because they were adjudged to be too commercial:

First rejected anniversary design     Second rejected anniversary design

Considering that a puzzle solution had been acceptable when Norton Starr requested it, Kate next submitted simply the letter K made of puzzle pieces, no other inscription. If that went through, her plan was to then ask for the other letters....A, D, O and N. Unfortunately, with no explanation, the K also was refused.

The rejected K design   The proposed A design   The proposed D design   The proposed O design   The proposed N design

Rereading the conditions that stamps.com had set for custom designs to celebrate birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, and the seeming preference for personal photographs, Kate finally submitted, more as a joke, a snapshot of herself. To her surprise, it went through and a sheet of 100 stamps arrived in due course of time, looking like this:

The successful anniversary stamp with Kate's image

These stamps worked on postcards until the rates went up, so now require an additional stamp for mailing. It seems to us the post office is missing a great bet for revenue raising from advertisers looking to cover every square inch of the world with their messages. Why not on postage stamps? Such miniature billboards are an art form, too.

Oh, well, we'll try again for Kadon's 50th anniversary in 2030. Collect the whole set.


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