Washington Postal Scene by Bill McAllister
The United States Postal Service has found another way to make money with stamps.
He sells digital images of US stamps through VeVe, a New Zealand company that creates what are called non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on the internet. An NFT is a unique digital identifier that cannot be copied or replaced.
The NFTs are numbered, making each buffer image unique.
NFT collectors say they hope there will be a secondary market for the images, one that could make their NFTs even more valuable.
But, as with real stamps, there is no guarantee that NFT stamp images will increase in value.
Judging from VeVe’s website, some of the biggest sellers seem to be anime characters.
The USPS recently participated in the NFT action by selling four images of the 2021 Day of the Dead forever stamps (Scott 5640-5643). The images went on sale from November 2, 2021.
“A few thousand copies” of the Day of the Dead stamp images quickly sold out for $6 each, according to How-To Geek website editor Dave LeClair.
He said these stamp images quickly began selling for a minimum of $195 each on the VeVe secondary market.
“So they weren’t a bad investment at their launch price,” he said in a Jan. 21 post.
On December 24, 2021, the USPS added four more NFT images for its A Visit from St. Nick Christmas stamps (Scott 5644-5647).
LeClair said “the rarest of these is currently over $250.”
These prices show that “there is a market for these USPS NFTs after all,” he said.
That’s good news for Postal Service licensing manager Amity Kirby, who led the USPS into what the agency described as “the cryptocurrency space.”
Kirby disclosed the Postal Service venture on January 18 on the agency’s Mailin’ It podcast (a digital program downloadable from the Internet).
It’s part of an overall effort to expand the Postal Service’s brand, she said.
“It’s a way for us to reach a generally younger audience that doesn’t typically use traditional Postal Service products and services,” Kirby said.
“Social media is beautiful for your brand,” she added.
Kirby said the stamp image project had its roots in the USPS’ collaborative sales efforts last year with shoe companies Vans and Forever 21.
“The NFT market has really exploded and is very, very popular,” she said.
Asked to explain what an NFT is, Kirby said, “It’s a way for people to collect digital stamp art. It’s not a stamp, it’s art.
“Worst case scenario, we released it and no one is buying it. And that’s just terrible,” she said.
But Day of the Dead NFTs sold out in 0.3 seconds, she said.
Kirby also disclosed plans for 2023, including a 60th anniversary celebration of the agency’s Mr. ZIP cartoon character that introduced the zip code to postal customers in 1963.
The Postal Service is giving Mr. ZIP “a little facelift to freshen him up and make him a little more youthful and fun” as he marks his sixth decade of service, Kirby said.
“Our stamp program, for example, is a huge educational piece that we can leverage with Mr. Zip,” she said, hinting that he might reappear on some stamps scheduled for 2023.
Asked about the Postal Service’s reaction to the stamp image program, USPS spokeswoman Tatiana Roy said, “I have no additional information for you at this time other than that. went extremely well and we look forward to more offerings in the coming year for the collecting community.
The Postal Service is far from alone in trying to exploit the market for digital images.
The Associated Press reported on January 26 that heirs to the estate of famed artist Pablo Picasso plan to auction more than 1,000 digital images of ceramics he created.
The Associated Press described the sale as an “attempt to integrate the world of fine art and crypto assets.”
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