Rhapsody in Glue: 20 Keyboardist Postage Stamps

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Rhapsody In Glue
A Sampler of Keyboards & Keyboardists on Stamps
Photos by Raymond Schuessler (originally from the November 1985 issue of Keyboard)

Why anyone would spend $1,000 for a little piece of colored paper, when they could use the money for something much more sensible—like, say, a digital reverb, or some road cases for their Synclaviers—may strike Keyboard readers as a bit bizarre. But for stamp collectors (who refer to themselves as philatelists), a price like this wouldn't be at all out of line for a rare and sought-after item.

The American Philatelic Society has 55,000 members, but not all of them collect all kinds of stamps. Most collections are specialized—old stamps, European stamps, stamps with printing errors. One of the most popular categories is topical stamps. Because stamps are printed by the thousands with pictorial images of one sort or another, whole collections can be organized around themes, such animals, royalty, or (you guessed it) music.

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Where do these stamps come from? The U.S. Postal Service prints dozens of different new stamps every year, in addition to garden-variety first-class postage stamps. Many of these are snapped up in whole sheets by collectors, and never make it onto envelopes. Suggestions for new stamps are made to the Postmaster General by the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee; if there are any musicians you would like to see honored you can write to them with suggestions c/o Stamp Development Branch, U.S. Postal Service, 475 L'Enfant Plz SW, Washington, DC 20260-2435. We're told that a Duke Ellington stamp is already in the works. But the first stamp with a synthesizer on it may still be years in the future.

All around the world, other countries are pouring stamps into the pipeline. Not just major nations like Sweden and Brazil, either. Countries not much bigger than a postage stamp themselves may sell enough stamps to foreign collectors to keep the government solvent. Ajman and Ras al Khaimah, several of whose stamps are seen on these pages, are tiny city-states in the United Arab Emirates, on the Persian Gulf. Gabon and Rwanda are large enough to qualify as real nations; you can find them both on any current map of central Africa. Another stamp on these pages that you may have trouble tagging geographically is the "Magyar" stamp, which comes from Hungary.

Incidentally, Elaine Boughner of Linn's Stamp News [linns .com] tells us that one of the first important topical stamp collectors was none other than Theodore Steinway (the father of the current senior generation of Steinways), who is picture at left. Another detail: Augustin Lara (1900-1970) was a Mexican composer of popular songs who was best known for the tunes "Morucha" and "Mujer." And no, we don't know what it says on the Vietnamese stamp.

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