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Gunmen & Great Chiefs

2003 W. C. "Bill" Porter

Portrait of Bill Porter reflected in glass of Chipeta artistamp wall hanging. Photograph by Eric Drummond, Montrose Daily Press, Nov. 2003.My Gunmen and Great (Indian) Chiefs series of artistamps began as a personal project for two reasons: I wanted to add a few wall hangings to our home and office depicting those outlaws and fierce fighters of the American old west who had otherwise been passed by through the normal selection processes of the USPS. Seemingly because the gunmen and/or great Chiefs were not well known enough to the general public; their places in history were too bloody; or, because these particular gunfighters and Indian Chiefs didn't bow down to bureaucratic desires of their day. Over time now, a few overlaps have occurred with my topical, historic stamp issues and a few issues by the US Postal Service. Such as Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce.

In a few instances of The Olathe Poste's Gunmen & Great Chiefs artistamp series, others have found pleasure and value in the concept of these faux postage stamps. For example, the Ute Indian tribe museum, under the authority of the Colorado Historical Society, commissioned The Olathe Poste to produce a set of stamps for their own purposes. Which, at the time, was to help commemorate the first Annual Chipeta Days celebration, held at the Ute Indian Museum in Montrose, Colorado.

Ute Indian Tribe Leaders Chief Ouray and Chipeta: two stamps combined as a se-tenant (multi-image) sheet of artistamps.While searching a back storage room at the museum for a suitable image(s) to use for the stamp sheets, The Olathe Poste discovered an old photograph, surrounded by a broken down old frame and covered in dust. The photograph was a beautifully rich portrait of Chipeta, wife of Chief Ouray. The portrait was made in 1914 -- in black and white and colorized by hand oil tinting. Once the photograph was removed from the frame for reproduction, it was discovered on the back of the photograph that it had also been authenticated by the commander of Fort Uncompahgre in that year. This rich piece of history depicting Chipeta, who led the Ute Indian tribe for over twenty years following the natural death of her husband, Ouray, was re-matted, re-framed and can now be viewed by visitors to the museum. While mail artists and other friends of The Olathe Poste may occasionally find one of these stamps adorning a piece of correspondence from us. These are a limited edition version (35 sheets) of the stamps which bear The Olathe Poste "signature." While the Chipeta and Ouray se-tenant sheet of decorative, faux postage stamps were designated with "Colorado Historical Society" on them to differentiate the two editions. The CHS stamps can readily be purchased from the Ute Indian Museum gift shop.

The Olathe Poste's Gunmen & Great Chiefs series of topical artistamps is an ongoing project. Those of you who may be collecting these stamps will find several variances from normal markings that typify Olathe Poste artistamps. These cinderella stamps were the first stamps produced by The Olathe Poste to stray away from our denominational "trademark" of 53, for example. Doing so for the sake of aesthetic authenticity in making the stamps appear to be from turn-of-the-twentieth-century vintage.



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