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Monday Morning Brief | New Henry David Thoreau stamp

April 24, 2017 08:00 AM

Linn's editorial director Donna Houseman discusses the second United States stamp honoring Henry David Thoreau. Featuring a portrait by artist Sam Weber, the new stamp will be issued May 23.

Full video transcript:

Welcome to the Monday Morning Brief for April 24, 2017.

The United States Postal Service will issue a new forever stamp May 23 commemorating the 200th birth anniversary of philosopher, writer and abolitionist Henry David Thoreau.

Thoreau is known as the author of the essay Civil Disobedience, published in 1849, and the book Walden, published in 1854.

The stamp features an oil-on-panel portrait of Thoreau by artist Sam Weber, based on an 1856 daguerreotype by Benjamin Maxham.

Weber was born in Alaska, spent most of his youth living in Canada, and moved to New York to attend graduate school at the School of Visual Arts. Now in his mid-30s, he is making his mark on the stamp world.

The design of the United States 2015 nondenominated 3-ounce rate commemorative stamp honoring author Flannery O’Connor was designed by Weber. He digitally created the portrait of O’Connor based on a photograph.

The O’Connor stamp was part of the Literary Arts commemorative series, but the new Thoreau stamp is not part of the series.

Weber’s illustrations are dramatic, with a flair for the theatrical. Perhaps that is why he was chosen to design Canada Post’s Haunted Canada stamp series recalling popular Canadian ghost stories.

Weber’s illustrations for the series highlight chilling tales from various points of interest throughout Canada.

The series included three sets of five stamps each, and Weber’s illustrations are made extra spooky through the use of holographic foil. The series began in 2014 and the final set of five was issued in 2016.

The new 2017 Henry David Thoreau stamp is not the first U.S. stamp issued to honor the writer. A 5¢ stamp was issued in 1967 and features a portrait of Thoreau created by a prominent artist, Leonard Baskin.

Baskin’s design drew criticism when the stamp was issued, but Weber admires the design. During an interview with Corinne H. Smith, whose article is published on the Thoreau Farm website, Weber is quoted as saying, “I love the Leonard Baskin stamp. It has so much personality and character.”

U.S. Postal Service spokesman Mark Saunders confirmed to Linn’s that Weber created artwork for a set of five forever stamps showing different sharks, which is planned for later this year.

For Linn’s Stamp News and the Scott catalogs, I’m Donna Houseman.