Designing stamps for the post office

I was running a type house in Montreal at the time I was asked to design the Christmas stamps. I found the sculpture of the woman blowing the horn at the Museum in Quebec city. It was a native French Canadian wood carving from the 18th century, so I thought the Post Office would be pleased. Being a printer, instead of sending them drawings of my projected stamp designs, I sent printed, perforated sheets of stamps, which look wonderful. But one of my employees took one of the stamps from the wastepaper basket and mailed a letter with it. Two weeks later, after I had heard that the stamps were rejected, two burly mounties arrived at my office on Sherbrooke street and demanded I turn over all printed copies of the stamps. I did, but secretly kept some. They asked if there were any others, so I had to tell them that I had given a set to the McGill University’s Special Collections Division of the McClennan Library to add to my archives there. So over they went and confronted poor Mrs. Lewis, who was head of Special Collections, demanding she hand over the stamps to them. Totally frightened and bewildered by them, she almost fainted, but complied.

Scan 10

The reason I had copies of Tak’s stamps is because he sent me a set of the original drawings he sent to them. I was totally disappointed to hear that they were not used to celebrate the Osaka World’s Fair.

Scan 24

As a matter of interest, I thought that my stamp designs would be readily accepted because I was personal friends with a majority of the committee which had been set up by the government to okay stamp designs because there had been so much criticism of the lack of good design. Artists from all across Canada were appointed. But at the meeting called when my designs were being considered it turns out that none of them showed up, so consideration was left to the “old boys” at the Post Office, who obviously took great glee in rejecting designs foisted on them by this “new fangled” committee. I imagine the same thing happened to Tak.


1 Comment

  1. Ann Cowan

    Thanks for sharing these spectacular designs–the cost of postage sure has increased; and so, I believe, has the standard of stamp design in recent years, although this year’s Xmas stamps were rather disappointing. Probably because we don’t acknowledge Christmas anymore.

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