Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The art on your mail

There is fine art you place on your wall, but there is also fine art you place on your mail. Not being able to afford much of the former, I collect the latter, especially postage stamps relating to literature.

A few American stamps honor libraries or reading in general.Two stamps in my collection feature the Library of Congress, and a 1982 stamp honors American libraries, "Legacies to Mankind." Then there's a 1984 stamp showing Abraham Lincoln, his son, Tad, and a book. The stamp is dedicated to "A Nation of Readers."

Other stamps portray particular books or even characters from books. In 1993 the U.S. Postal Service issued 29-cent stamps honoring four classics in juvenile fiction: Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Little House on the Prairie, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Little Women, with imagined scenes from each of these books on the stamps. A couple of years ago my wife's cousin, whose mother came from Australia, gave me five Australian stamps, issued in 1985, that honor classic children's books from Australia, none of which I had ever heard of. They are Elves & Fairies, The Magic Pudding, Ginger Meggs, Blinky Bill and Snugglepot Cuddlepie.

Mostly however the postage stamps in my collection honor American authors. The postal service seems to issue at least one or two of these stamps every year. Among my favorites are those for Ernest Hemingway, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ogden Nash, Flannery O'Connor, Katherine Anne Porter, Ayn Rand, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Robert Penn Warren and Thornton Wilder. Each of these stamps is just a pleasure to look at. Most of them show an image representing the author's most famous work. O'Connor, who was known for raising peacocks, has peacock feathers on her stamp.

Other nations issue stamps honoring their own best writers. I have, for example, French stamps honoring Victor Hugo, Emile Zola and Albert Camus, as well as a Colombian stamp with Gabriel Garcia Marquez on its face.

A very few authors seem to be claimed by the whole world. I have, for example, stamps from the U.S., Italy and the Soviet Union honoring William Shakespeare, who lived in England. The Soviets also issued a stamp in 1960 showing Mark Twain.

I'd like to see more literary postage stamps being issued, but I'm grateful for the beauties we have.

No comments:

Post a Comment