The first day of issue of the Star Trek stamp fell on September 17, 1999. The stamp was part of the U.S. Postal Service’s Celebrate the Century initiative, which recognized significant events representing each decade of the 20th Century. The public was asked to vote for prospective subjects by decade. The Star Trek stamp, issued on a pane with fourteen other stamps representing the decade of the 1960s, was one of the winners in the Arts and Entertainment category. Voting took place between May 1 and May 30th of 1998. Star Trek garnered 257,000 votes. News of the successful vote was cited on page 73 of the July 20, 1998 issue of Time magazine. The story of the stamp was also featured in Roger Nygard’s Trekkies 2 in 2004.
The issuance of the thirty-three cent Star Trek stamp in 1999, marked the thirty-third anniversary of Star Trek’s debut in 1966. Oklahoma artist Keith Birdsong’s rendering depicts the USS Enterprise of the original series in celestial orbit. Set against the bright gold Starfleet emblem above a vortex of swirling clouds, the Enterprise soars on its five-year mission to the final frontier.
Star Trek’s place on the ballot was the result of a 13-year, fan-driven campaign of letter writing, petition signing, and appeals to the media. The campaign succeeded in the face of great odds and a nearly intransigent Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, which initially objected on the grounds that Star Trek was a commercial enterprise and, therefore, in violation of postal guidelines. In spite of such resistance, the drive elicited 146 endorsement letters from some of the most recognizable names in science, science fiction, education, and the U.S. Congress. Letters came from, among many others, Ray Bradbury; Isaac Asimov; Arthur C. Clarke; NASA; Caltech; MIT; the U.S Space and Rocket Center; Clyde Tombaugh, discoverer of Pluto; and the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium.
The Star Trek Stamp Committee, the force behind the drive, was spearheaded by Bill Kraft, Sauk Rapids, MN. Other committee members included Mark Schnoor, Aberdeen, SD; Todd Miller, New York, NY; Lori Kilpatrick; Fort Wayne, IN; and Deborah Cecchi, Palatine, IL. Their efforts, along with 80 endorsement letters, are chronicled in Bill Kraft’s book, Maybe We Need a Letter from God: The Star Trek Stamp. The book was added to the National Postal Museum Library at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. in 2014.
For collectors, Star Trek stamp-related items on the market were coffee mugs, T-shirts, shot glasses, key chains, and the 1999 Hallmark Christmas ornament.