Lewis Hine: Made in America

This collectible keepsake package includes one randomly selected pane of Made in America stamps and one randomly selected Digital Color Postmark First Day Cover. Click the image for details.

We love the iconic portraits of industrial workers found on the Made in America Forever® stamps—and while it’s obvious that those pictured are working hard, have you ever thought about the work of the photographer who created the images?

Documentary photographer Lewis Hine (who was born on this day in 1874) created 11 of the 12 stamp images, and four of those document the construction of the Empire State Building, the tallest building in the world from 1931 to 1972. Look at the photos, and take a second to think about this: Where exactly was Hine standing when he took those photos of construction workers balancing on steel girders, with nothing but empty sky behind them?

Capturing those classic scenes involved some risk. In 1930, Hine wrote about one of his most adventurous days at the Empire State Building in a letter to a friend:

My six months of skyscraping have culminated in a few extra thrills . . . just before the high derrick was taken down, they swung me out in a box from the hundreth floor—a sheer drop of nearly a quarter of a mile—to get some shots of the tower. The Boss argued that it had never been done and could never be done again and that, anyway, it’s safer than a ride on a Pullman or a walk in the city streets. So he prevailed.

During his career, Hine also achieved fame as a social reformer.

Hine duo

USPS has issued two other stamps featuring photographs by Lewis Hine, in 1998 (Celebrate the Century: 1910s; left) and 2002 (Masters of American Photography; right).

Best known for pictures of immigrants, child laborers, and industrial workers, he viewed his subjects with compassion and their harsh surroundings with an unflinching eye. His photographs of children working in mines, mills, and factories led Congress to try to regulate child labor, but the Supreme Court declared early laws unconstitutional.

It’s Slinky Day!

Today isn’t just Friday, it’s also Slinky Day! This toy made of 80 feet of coiled wire that can “walk” down stairs, caused a sensation when it first hit stores in 1945 and went on to become one of the most successful toys of all time.

USPS99STA076Do you have one in your collection?

The Fastest Man Alive: Jesse Owens’s Racing Legacy

On August 9, 1936, track star Jesse Owens won his fourth gold medal at the Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany. Leading off the U.S. 4 x 100-meter relay team, which would set a new world record, Owens launched himself into history as one of the greatest Olympic heroes of all time.

In 1935, Owens prefaced his Olympic stardom when, on May 25, he set five world records and tied another in one afternoon as a member of Ohio State University’s track and field team. The “Buckeye Bullet” solidified his position as the fastest man alive after also winning the gold in the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash, and long jump during the 1936 Games.

Despite his incredible achievements, Owens’s athletic career was surprisingly short. With the 1940 and 1944 Olympic Games canceled because of World War II, Owens’s focus shifted from running to raising a family. But his legacy as the Buckeye Bullet lived on for years.

In 1998, Owens appeared on a U.S. postage stamp as part of the Celebrate the Century series on the 1930s pane. He’s depicted in his Ohio State uniform clearing a hurdle.

Jesse Owens TM Estate of Jesse Owens c/o CMG Worldwide, Indpl, IN.

Surprise! It’s Video Game Day

Today is Video Game Day, and while it may not be a Federal holiday, it’s definitely something we’re going to celebrate. Believe it or not, the U.S. Postal Service has showcased video games before. In 2000, a Video Games stamp was part of the 1980s stamp pane in the Celebrate the Century series. What game do you think the two kids on the stamp are playing?

While you mull it over, here are our top five favorite video games from the late 1980s and 1990s.

5. Tetris (1989)
There’s no better word to describe this puzzle game than “addictive.” The 1989 version, available for Game Boy, was endlessly entertaining. Subsequent versions are just as good.

4. Super Mario Kart (1992)
Twenty years after it was released, this simple and fast-paced Super Nintendo game is still fun. (If anybody out there still has a Super Nintendo, please let us know. We’d like to play Mario Kart right now!)

3. Madden NFL 97 (1996)
Back then, no sports game felt more realistic.

2. Super Mario Bros. 3 (1990)
Kids across the country spent way too many hours trying to beat this Nintendo game. Were you able to do it?

1. Tecmo Super Bowl (1991)
The first truly great sports game. It featured real NFL teams and players and caused players to mash the buttons on their Nintendo controllers until their fingers hurt.

Don’t see your favorites? Let us know what your top five list looks like in the comments section.