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A Feynman Stamp? Write Now!

Date: Sat, 11 May
May 11, 1996 - Richard Feynman's 78th birthday

Dear Feynman Fans, around the World as well as in the USA:

This is a message from Ralph Leighton. If you have heard of me at all, it is probably though my part in Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!, What Do You Care What Other People Think?, QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter, and/or Tuva or Bust! -- books by or about Richard Feynman.

This message is about a critical step in an organized effort to persuade the U.S. Postal Service to issue a commemorative postage stamp for Richard Feynman.

By following the directions below, you can help. Please take a moment to read this entire message. Do it for ``the Chief.''

First of all, the basics: to be pictured on a postage stamp (a great way to be seen by millions in the USA and around the world), the candidate must have been dead ten years (except for presidents, who only need to be dead one year -- history might judge them differently in ten?).

Feynman died on February 15, 1988. Rather than target February 15 as a date, let's choose May 11, his birthday: His 80th birthday will be 1998; his 81st birthday (a more perfect number) will be in 1999.

But for either of those dates, we need to act NOW!

More background:

Even though postage stamps are small, who is portrayed on one is highly competitive and requires a well-orchestrated campaign, the highest levels of political clout, or both. Therefore, PLEASE DO NOT CONTACT THE POST OFFICE DIRECTLY - IT COULD INITIATE A REVIEW PREMATURELY, BEFORE THE FULL ARSENAL OF SUPPORT IS READY, THEREBY CONDEMNING THE EFFORT TO FAILURE.

This already happened once: Richard Feynman was considered and rejected(!) by the USPS in 1995. There is an opportunity to propose Feynman again, but this time only a focused, well coordinated, effort has any chance of succeeding. I need your help!!!

More basics:

  1. Richard Feynman
    Born: May 11, 1918, New York City.
    Died: Feb. 15, 1988, in Los Angeles.
  2. Postage Stamp Candidacy

    Just a few obvious reasons that Feynman should be honored by a stamp that millions of ordinary people use:

    • He was American born and educated
    • A Nobel prize winner
    • An original thinker whose impact went beyond physics to influence millions outside of science who read his books
    • An enthusiastic educator
    • A patriot who served his country on the Manhattan Project and on the Challenger Commission.

    Apparently, those reasons by themselves were not enough. A candidate has to have broad, well-organized support.

After a person has been considered for a stamp and rejected, any letters coming in during the next year have NO IMPACT: there is a one-year moratorium on reconsideration. A year has now passed, and I want to make sure Feynman is not rejected again. This time, let us gather thousands of letters first, and then turn them in all at once!

Therefore -- if you would like to see a Feynman postage stamp issued by the US Postal Service, follow these steps carefully:

  1. Write a letter on PAPER (remember what that is?)

    Use an impressive letterhead, if possible. Explain why Richard Feynman should be honored with a postage stamp that will be seen by millions of ordinary people in the USA and around the world. Use your own reasons; give it a personal, testimonial touch, if possible.


  2. (a) Address the letter itself (but DO NOT SEND IT) to:
    Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee
    L'Enfant Plaza, Washington DC

    (b) SEND the LETTER to:

Feynman Stamp
c/o Ralph Leighton
Box 70021
Pasadena CA 91117

Please do NOT send your letter to me on e-mail! (Do you think the Postal Service will listen to people who don't use postage stamps?)  For those of you outside the US, it might help to mention that you, and many others like you around the world, would be interested in Feynman stamps as a collector.

  1. Organized Effort

    I hope to accumulate a MOUNTAIN of letters. Later this summer I will assemble them, add a cover letter, and send it to the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee along with background materials to assist in their research. Any contacts you may have with big muck-a-mucks who might write a letter or lobby the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee, please pass them to me!

  2. If you would like to be kept updated about the project's status, occasionally check the WWW at, the Friends of Tuva website.

  3. PLEASE! Forward this message to everyone you know who is a fan of Richard Feynman, and who might be persuaded to write a letter of support. Get this message onto every appropriate web site you can. Spread the word also to friends, and pass this message to any publication whose readership might be interested in seeing a Feynman stamp.

    Please emphasize that letters should be sent to me, so they can be gathered together and sent all at once.

    Thank you for reading this message. Please respond soon, while it's on your mind.

May Richard Feynman's spirit of adventure, curiosity, honesty, integrity, and intellectual freedom continue to shine in the years to come! And may his mischievous smile reach unsuspecting millions in 1998 or 99!

Ralph Leighton, Friends of Tuva (the unofficial Richard Feynman fan club),
(213) 221-8882 vox & fax.

If you would like to receive the latest (Dec '95) FoT newsletter, please send a self-addressed stamped envelope to:

Friends of Tuva, Box 70021, Pasadena CA 91117 USA
(32 c in US, $1 outside)
Please note my new e-mail address:

Long live the Chief!
Browse the World Wide Web with keyword FEYNMAN !