US Postal Service mistakes hotel’s Statue of Liberty for ‘real’ one

[From The New York Times]

This Lady Liberty Is a Las Vegas Teenager

By Kim Severson and Matthew Healey
Published: April 14, 2011

As if further proof were needed that New York is not the center of the universe.

The United States Postal Service has issued a new stamp featuring the Statue of Liberty. Only the statue it features is not the one in the harbor, but the replica at the New York-New York casino in Las Vegas.

You might think that the post office would have just gone with the original, the one off the tip of Lower Manhattan that for 125 years has welcomed millions of New York’s huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Instead, they accidentally used the 14-year-old statue that presides over thousands of weary gamblers a week.

The post office, which had thought the Lady Liberty “forever” stamp featured the real thing, found out otherwise when a clever stamp collector who is also what one might call a superfan of the Statue of Liberty got suspicious and contacted Linn’s Stamp News, the essential read among philatelists.

But the post office is going with it.

“We still love the stamp design and would have selected this photograph anyway,” said Roy Betts, a spokesman. Mr. Betts did say, however, that the post office regrets the error and is “re-examining our processes to prevent this situation from happening in the future.”

The service selected the image from a photography service, and issued rolls of the stamp bearing the image in December. This month, it issued a sheet of 18 Lady Liberty and flag stamps. Information accompanying the original release of the stamp included a bit of history on the real Statue of Liberty. Las Vegas was never mentioned. The whole mess was exposed by the stamp magazine, which this week ran photographs of both statues.

To the average tourist, there are obvious differences. The Las Vegas statue is half the size of the real Statue of Liberty. And of course, they are in different cities. But it takes a real student of Lady Liberty to notice the contrasts in a stamp-size photo of her head. The hair is different. The replica’s eyes are much more sharply defined. A rectangular patch — a plaque, maybe? — is on the replica’s center spike.

The post office, while perhaps chagrined, is standing by the stamp but changing its informational material about it.

At the New York-New York casino, where a permanent Sept. 11 memorial is positioned in front of the fake New York Harbor in which the fake Statue of Liberty sits, there is nothing but pride.

“Everyone thought the post office was honoring just one great American institution when in reality they were honoring two — the Statue of Liberty and Las Vegas,” said Gordon Absher, spokesman for MGM Resorts International.

Meanwhile, back in the real New York, Edward I. Koch, who declared that the city was the center of the universe when he was mayor, offered some insight into what it all means: “It simply means the post office is doing a stupid thing.”

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