The blue curtain is about to drop, prepared for the large reveal. The color guard has marched in, the learn of ceremonies has cracked a handful of jokes and the names of significant visitors have been read. But Joan Tittle is hectic on the lookout somewhere else.

Sitting down in a seat marked “reserved,” the 78-calendar year-outdated girl with little gray curls is waving to staff, looking for the other fanatics she understands and looking at for reactions on the faces of the 100-some individuals in the crowd.

The curtain drops.

Powering it: stamps. Ta-da!

“That’s awesome,” Tittle says, her gold hoop earrings tilting as she seems at the blown-up photograph. The 4 stamps, debuting Thursday at a ceremony at the FreshFarm market around the White Household, element colorful scenes of a farmers sector: eggs and sunflowers, peppers and loaves of bread, all painted in overflowing baskets with modest handwritten selling price tags.

The Philadelphia woman isn’t amazed with the bustling farmers market place where by the stamps are staying unveiled she’s right here to make absolutely sure she receives adequate of them. Tittle is a stamp collector, though collector is also boring a term to explain her pursuit. A few yrs immediately after she retired from staying a higher university fitness center trainer in 1993, she began touring around the country attending as lots of “first working day of issue” ceremonies as feasible. Civil War stamps, Kwanzaa stamps, Joe DiMaggio stamps — she wants them all. And not just the stamps. Tittle collects the souvenir envelopes the stamps arrive in, the courses from the ceremony and the signature of the postmaster typical. She’s been to a few stamp unveilings in the earlier two months.

“We not only rejoice this terrific stamp, we are also celebrating our 15th annual farmers industry week,” claims the man on stage, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Today, we have more than 8,268 markets throughout the United States.”

Farmers markets, as the Secretary details out, are a historical establishment that have seasoned a remarkable rise in attractiveness because the mid-90s.

The exact same cannot be stated for the historic institution of postage stamps, which are remaining used at lows not registered considering that the early 1980s.

The U.S. Postal Service’s makes an attempt to attract new stamp lovers in this e-mail era can be seen in Tittle’s stamp albums, which fill a file cupboard, television stand, personal computer armoire and a few bookcases in her property. Stamps in latest several years have highlighted Acquiring Nemo, Jimi Hendrix and Harry Potter.

This drive to appeal to a youthful viewers hasn’t been satisfied with common acclaim. A previous postmaster typical quite publicly resigned from the committee that chooses the styles of the stamps produced each individual year. Benjamin F. Bailar accused the Postal Service of “prostituting” its stamp system “in the pursuit of potentially illusory earnings.”

It’s hard to picture quite a few youthful people taking on the business enterprise of initially-day stamp gathering like Tittle, who is now pushing by the crowd of middle-aged women sporting farmers market place-inspired straw hats at the ceremony.

“Excuse me, excuse me,” she suggests.

“Oh, hello Mayday!,” she says to a different collector. “Is the line seriously this very long?”

Her partner, George, follows at the rear of, carrying two black bags full of Tittle’s stamp paraphernalia. He is utilised to her obsessive fandom — she also follows the Philadelphia Eagles and has attended all but one particular of their residence games considering the fact that 1958. When she’s not at online games or on stamp visits, the few, married for 49 a long time, get the job done out collectively at the YMCA.

“Okay, what do we want,” George claims as they near the blue tents in the middle of the farmers market. Tittle is eyeing the line, making absolutely sure she will be ready to get plenty of envelopes marked with “cancellation” in black ink, which signifies the stamp was bought on the day it was unveiled and are not able to be made use of, consequently expanding its benefit.

When they make it to the front of the line, Tittle orders four sheets of 20 stamps.

“We’re out,” states a lady in a USPS polo. “There’s only 1 left.”

This in no way transpires. Perhaps the Postal Assistance seriously hit it off with this one, attracting additional people to collect the stamp with the lure of its shiny shades and fashionable subject. Or maybe there were being just people today at the market place who desired stamps.

“I know what this means,” George suggests. He leaves to go obtain an real write-up business, where by he is in a position to acquire her a few far more sheets for $9.80 a piece.

Meanwhile, Tittle sets out to locate the postmaster standard, so she can talk to him to signal the number of additional systems slipped to her by a friend from the Postal Provider.

“I know,” Tittle says, holding her stamps and smiling. “I’m out of handle.”