Recently there has come on the art market one of the greatest bargains in many years. Can you imagine, buying frameable reproductions of some of the greatest masterpieces in American art history for only thirty-two cents EACH? These high-quality, prints of famous paintings also won't cost an arm and a leg to mat and frame either. I guess I should mention at this point, if the price hasn't already tipped you off, they're postage stamps. The first ones went on sale this week at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DC, which owns two of the original oil paintings. The Corcoran purchased these two paintings over a century ago from the artists in an attempt to "...encourage American genius in the arts." The issuance of the postage stamps have a similar purpose.

One is Frederic Edwin Church's "Niagara" painted in 1857, while the other is by Albert Bierstadt, "The Last of the Buffalo"(1889). Both are about as "American" as American art gets. In addition, there are 18 other outstanding examples of American painting spanning some four hundred years of "American genius in the arts". The earliest in the series is by John Foster, painted in 1670, entitled "Portrait of Richard Mather". The most recent is by Mark Rothko, with the heart-stopping, spellbinding title, "No. 12". In between are works as instantly recognizable as Grant Wood's "American Gothic" and as obscure as John James Audubon's "Long-billed Curlew, Numenius Longrostris".

Two women are recognized in the set, Ammi Phillips' "Girl in Red Dress with Cat and Dog" (painted in the 1830s), and Mary Cassatt's "Breakfast in Bed", painted in 1897. There is also a work by an anonymous American painter, a limner painting of "Mrs. Elizabeth Freake and Baby Mary" painted around 1673. Also included are works by George Caleb Bingham, Winslow Homer, Asher B. Durand, George Catlin, Thomas B. Moran, Franz Kline, Edward Hopper, William Harnett and Rembrandt Peale. Never before has such a representative set of American art prints been available at such a low price. Get yours today. They're just the thing for over the couch in the living room of your doll house. They're available from the U.S. Postal Service at your friendly, neighborhood, post office/art gallery, but don't ask to see their selection of frames.