The Chicken Stamp

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3-cent Poultry Industry Centennial stamp

While not the oddest item in the museum's collection, it's design was considered odd enough by many staff members to include in this series. Design aside, this stamp raised a ruckus. Issued in 1948, the stamp was seen by many as setting the stage of special interest stamps by anyone who could get Congress's or the Post Office Department's attention. Many considered it inappropriate to issue a stamp promoting private industry. Others complained that the design of what one called a "giant chicken" was poorly conceived and realized. In an article for Linns Stamp News titled "1948 U.S. Stamp Politics: No Guts, No Glory," Rob Haesler notes that "to this day, the U.S. stamp that is most often mentioned as the least necessary is the 1948 issue depicting a rooster and commemorating the 100th anniversary of the American poultry industry."

Then again, the stamp's notoriety has gained it some fans, collectors drawn by its underdog appeal. After this stamp and other special interest stamps that followed, the government bowed to pressure in 1957, creating the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC) to oversee and determine US stamp topics. CSAC members continue their work to this day. The Postmaster General appoints the members of the 15-person committee, who are drawn from all walks of life.