It's not quite owl mail, but it may be the next best thing for Harry Potter fans. The U.S. Postal Service unveiled 20 postage stamps today featuring the wizard and his friends, using images from the popular movie and book franchise.
The release is expected to raise significant sales for the agency, which has been experiencing financial trouble since 2008. Just last week, USPS announced that it had lost $5 billion over the past year.
"Overall mail volume has declined, but stamp sales have continued to keep pace, so we are excited about the future of stamps in America," said Roy Betts, a spokesman for USPS.
With the introduction of Harry Potter, which has over 66 million likes on its Facebook alone, Betts admitted that USPS was targeting a younger demographic in hopes of introducing stamp collecting as a pastime that they could enjoy.
For traditionalists, however, the introduction of the British phenomenon on an American stamp could prove to be controversial.
"You'll get the hardcore purists who just want to commemorate things they think are important, mostly people and events that were important to the history of our country," said Tom Horn, director of sales for The American Philatelic Society, the biggest stamp club in the U.S.
Betts dismissed detractors, however, citing other international figures like Edith Piaf that USPS had commemorated on stamps before.
"The postal service's stamp program is a very diverse program, and we bring diverse men and women of various backgrounds - we have more than 5,000 subjects on stamps," said Betts. "Harry Potter being quite an icon, he is a subject that is more than fitting to appear on a US postal stamp."
The stamps will be sold in booklet form, with four stamps to a page.
The most popular stamp to date is Elvis Presley, with 700 million stamps that were printed and sold. Other figures slated for release next year include Shirley Chisholm, Harvey Milk and Charlton Heston.