This holiday season, while standing in the back of the snaking line at the post office, consider the stamp offerings beyond the usual fare—and do your part to cure Alzheimer’s.
Eye-catching is the 65-cent first-class stamp in soft colors featuring an elderly woman in profile. Sunlight is behind her, gray clouds are in front of her downward gaze. A hand rests upon her right shoulder. The single word beneath the illustration: Alzheimer’s.
The Alzheimer’s “semipostal” fundraising stamp was issued in November 2017 to coincide with the holidays. Since then, 5.1 million stamps have sold and $726,000 has been raised for Alzheimer’s research through the National Institutes of Health, according to Roy A. Betts, a spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Service.
Semipostal stamps were created in 1997 by an act of Congress so that proceeds above the regular first-class rate would fund “causes that have been determined to be in the national public interest,” according to the U.S. Postal Service website. The first was the Breast Cancer Research Stamp, which was created in 1998 and has raised $89 million since then. Issued in 2011, the Save the Vanishing Species stamp has raised $5.6 million.
The Alzheimer’s stamp will no longer be available this time next year. A new semipostal stamp, scheduled for release in 2019, will raise awareness and funds for post-traumatic stress disorder.
The stamp has been lauded by many for its design.
“Stamp art is one of the most visible forms of public art. We wanted to produce an image that would resonate with the public in a moving and powerful way,” said Betts.
Mahurin, a California-based illustrator, designed the Alzheimer’s stamp, which was first used as a regular first-class stamp in 2008. In an email, he said he did not have any personal experience with Alzheimer’s when he created the image, but he has heard from many people over the past decade that the image captured their own personal connection with a loved one who had Alzheimer’s.
With the release of the Alzheimer’s semipostal stamp, Mahurin pivoted his original figure to the right.
“I wanted the stamp to show that there are so many people that care deeply for those suffering from the disease — and that there are two sides to the disease, those who are afflicted and those who give love, strength and comfort,” Mahurin said.