Postal Service Forks Over a New Stamp

The U.S. Postal Service is giving letter writers a chance to express their inner culinarians.

For occasions when a president or petunia won't do, the USPS is releasing a stamp depicting a fork, knife and spoon. It's one of a dozen stamps on a pane honoring "pioneers of American industrial design," but may stand alone in the history of philately.

According to Paul Oelkrug, coordinator for special collections at the University of Texas at Dallas, home to one of the nation's top philatelic libraries, the nation's never before issued a stamp with utensils on it. Oelkrug is waiting for a definitive answer from an enthusiasts group that meets at the library on Saturday mornings, but reports his research hasn't turned up any stamps showing tableware.

"From the American Postal Series, there are several stamps depicting diners, some depicting holiday cookies and one depicting a toleware coffee pot," Oelkrug e-mails.

The new stamp honors the work of Russel Wright, a craftsman and taste-maker whose line of tableware for middle-class eaters shattered sales records. Wright designed utensils for eaters who didn't have servants to help them polish silver, or much patience with dinner parties governed by persnickety etiquette codes. Through objects and essays, Wright and his wife urged Americans to embrace simplicity and conviviality at mealtime. The Wrights' Guide to Easier Living, published in 1950, celebrated old-fashioned farm kitchens and suggested readers' make eat-in kitchens "not only a place to dine, but a center of family living."

Other stamps on the pane, which goes on sale in July -- after Ronald Reagan and before Owney the Postal Dog -- include Fiestaware and a mass-produced plated-brass pitcher.

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