New Orleans, August 8, 1996

Pynchon Postage Puzzles Experts


by V. Bugatti New Orleans Bayou-Tribune

In a lecture given at the Fiat Lux graphic arts and sciences convention held here in New Orleans August 4-9, detective Cati Laporte unveiled a set of postage stamps which prove that the Thomas Pynchon novel isn't so fictitious after all.
Often written off along with other conspiracy theory novels, Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49 describes a renegade postal system which produces unsettling stamps that ridicule the status quo. These very stamps have been discovered by Cati Laporte, a New York based independant detective who specializes in locating lost icons, such as theses stamps.
Ms. Laporte discovered the stamps among a collection which was purchased by one of her clients through an estate auction, she declined to state the name of the client or of the auction at which the stamps were purchased. Several stamp experts have been contacted to help determine the authenticity of the stamps.
"These stamps are irrefutable proof that the underground Post Office described in Thomas Pynchon's novel did indeed exist." said Dr. Franklin B. Israel, a former federal employee and current professor of criminology and document anaylsis at George Washington University.
Others are not so sure. G.F. Sebastian of the Smithsonian Institute has also analyzed the stamps and believes them to be recently produced. "I'm certain these stamps were produced in the last ten years", Mr. Sebastian claimed, "there never was any Lot 49, it's just a novel."
While the debate about the authenticity of the stamps remains open for document analyists and historians, some claim that there is no question the stamps are genuine. "I worked as a postal inspector for fifty years, and I know for a fact that the Lot 49 conspiracy did exist, and with some amount of success. First the Postmaster General, and later the F.B.I., supressed the records about our investigation." stated formal U.S.P.S. employee George H. Huntington.
The lecture at Fiat Lux described the antisocial aspects of the stamp designs and explained the truths within the fictionalization of the conspiracy in Pynchon's novel. Some conference attendees were unaware of this underground postal conspiracy, the predecessor to many mail-art and mail-fraud movements today, but others were sufficiently informed to be astounded by the findings.
"This is an unbelievable discovery," said Fox M. Carter of Canada's Advanced Imaging Laboratory, "proof that this conspiracy existed is proof that the U.S. government had supressed their evidence about it. If they did that with the Lot 49 incident, what other fictionalizations are merely attempts by clever people to leak the truth in a veil of fiction?" While the debate rages about the authenticity of the stamps in the academic world, Ms. Laporte is displaying the stamps which she believes are genuine. "Some people think they're fakes," she said, "but there is a lot of cynicism today. People want to seem smarter than their friends, so they ignore the evidence and claim to have the answers."
The stamps will be on display until the 9th at the Fiat Lux conference, located in the downtown Marriott. For event information call the Fiat Lux hotline at 588-2682.