Exhibit | US Comedians on Stamps and the Process of Creating a Stamp Design


This stamp exhibit at the Anne S. K. Brown Military in the John Hay Library features a set of U.S. stamps that were produced in 1991 called U.S. Comedians on Stamps. The idea for these stamps started in 1981 when Howard Paine, the coordinator for the Stamp Committee, proposed doing some adventurous things, like seeing some of the great caricaturists design stamps. In particular, he suggested having Al Hirschfeld create caricatures of celebrities.

Paine’s idea became a reality on August 29, 1991, when Postmaster General Anthony M. Frank dedicated a booklet of stamps featuring Hirschfeld caricatures of famous 20th century American comedians. This stamp issue was the first of 25 issues depicting caricatures of show business personalities created by Hirschfeld specifically as stamp art. Four of the Hirschfeld stamps, shown above, are on display in the exhibit.

(Fun fact: In 1945 Hirschfeld’s daughter Nina was born, and from that year on he always hid the name Nina in his drawings.)

The exhibit also depicts the process of creating a U.S. stamp by showing Hirschfeld’s drawing, the overlay with the name and postage rate of the stamp that was superimposed over the drawing, and the final stamp itself.

The Brown University Library is home to several stamp collections, including the Knight Collection, the Peltz and Morriss Collections of Special Delivery stamps, the George S. Champlin Memorial Stamp Collection of International Issues, and the Robert T. Galkin Collection of First Day Covers.

Click here for more information about Special Collections at Brown, including the stamp collections.

Dates: September 10 – October 31, 2015
Time: Open to the public 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Friday
Location: Anne S. K. Brown Military Gallery, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence