In February 2013, when the postal department launched ‘My Stamp’, a customised stamp on which anyone can get their photograph printed and use it as a postage stamp to send letters, the general reaction was sceptical. Few expected the initiative to succeed at a time when hardly anyone was opting for snail mail. But, the novelty factor and a little narcissistic streak among customers took the project to lengths less expected.
Till February this year, the Kerala circle has sold 11,872 such stamps, amounting to Rs.35.31 lakh. The department has set itself a target of Rs.10 crore in the coming financial year from the sales of ‘My Stamps’ in this circle alone. As part of this plan to scale up, ‘My Stamp’ counters will be opened at various tourist spots this year. In the initial stage, counters will start functioning at Kovalam, Munnar, Lakshadweep, and Kumarakom, within a month.
“In Thiruvananthapuram, we launched the special stamps by printing a personalised stamp of Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma. It was quite popular with the customers, but a majority opt for their own photographs,” says B. Gopakumar, Philatelic Officer.
Some of the novel uses of the concept by customers include stamps with couple’s photo for marriage invitation and even cases of death anniversary letters with the deceased’s photograph. A sheet of 12 stamps is printed for Rs.300.
The department has on its own printed stamps of tourist places such as Edakkal caves and Muzhappilangad beach, and religious places like Attukal temple and Kumaranalloor temple.
But printing stamps of religious places created a problem wherein the department began receiving Right to Information (RTI) requests about the criteria for selection of a specific place of worship to print stamps. Since no specific criteria have been provided, the decisions to print are based on demand, say officials.
Corporate clients have also found ‘My Stamps’ to be a good way to extend their branding to the stamps in official written communication. Stamps affixed with company logos have found many takers.