Sunday, February 28, 2010

American Photographers on Stamps

With each new issue of a postage stamp in the United States there is a ritual of creating First Day Covers--envelopes with the new stamp, canceled on the day of issue. There are a number of commercial interests that sell these--including the Post Office itself--and each has a different envelope design. Some envelopes are cheesy and some are handsome but these days, they tend to be mostly cheesy. Here are some examples of the George Eastman issue of 1954.

In 2002, the United States Post Office issued a set of 20 stamps representing the American Masters of Photography. Needless to say, they all had to be dead since in the USofA we don't print official stamps with living people on them. (We suffer no royalty here, just celebrity.) And of course, there were First Day Covers created for the issue.

Here are examples of two of the more cheesy versions of this particular issue:

Timothy O'Sullivan

Dorothea Lange

Lewis Hine

Imogen Cunningham

One of the FDC sets had an illustrated portrait of the photographer on each of the envelopes. In some cases I was able to find the source photograph cause, well, the likeness in many cases, was, well...not spot-on. But then, I figured most people wouldn't recognize any of the artists anyway so it didn't really matter how good the likeness was. In alphabetical order:

Ansel Adams

And for no other reason than that I think Ansel has a great face to look at, here are some other portraits I found on the web while looking for the source-photo.

(L to R) Photobooth self-portrait, circa 1930; F. Malcolm Grany, circa 1947-1950; Edward Weston, 1946; Jim Alinder, 1984;
David Hume Kennerly, from the 1979 Time cover shoot (the only time a photographer has appeared on the cover of that magazine.)

Alvin Langdon Coburn

Not quite, but close.

Imogen Cunningham

Cunningham self-portrait, 1933

Walker Evans

I couldn't find the photo this caricature was drawn from. You may have noticed a pattern emerging: the illustration in many cases is flopped and the Evans image above is clearly flopped, as Evans parted his hair on the other side.


Gertrude Käsebier

André Kertész

Kertesz by James R. Holland

Dorothea Lange


Lewis Hine


Man Ray

Timothy O'Sullivan

I'll mount the rest another time.

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