US Stamps

Art source for 1984 Nation of Readers commemorative stamp corrected

Oct 10, 2023, 8 AM

U.S. Stamp Notes by John M. Hotchner

In the U.S. Stamp Notes column in the Aug. 28 issue of Linn’s, I showed what I thought was a colorized 1865 Matthew Brady photo on a postcard, shown here in Figure 1, and said that it was the source for the design of the United States 1984 20¢ Nation of Readers commemorative stamp (Scott 2106) featuring President Abraham Lincoln and his son Tad, shown here in Figure 2. I was wrong.

Linn’s reader Alex Johnston, a subject matter expert on Lincoln, immediately wrote in to say that my attribution was incorrect. He said, “The photograph was in fact taken by Anthony Berger … and is widely available on line.” It is shown here in Figure 3.

Johnston also said, “I’m not sure there even IS a Brady photo! The article shows a painting, but not the actual photo.”

This, of course, sent me to my source material, which in this case was the Linn’s U.S. Stamp Yearbook 1984, and, sure enough, I found the following information in the entry for this stamp, “Veteran stamp designer Bradbury Thompson based the stamp’s vignette on a photograph of Abraham Lincoln and his son, Tad, taken by famed Civil War photographer Matthew Brady.”

Johnston subsequently checked the U.S. Postal Service’s Postal Bulletin announcement, which also misstated the attribution.

So, I apologize for the error, and I hope it will not lead future researchers astray. Thanks to Johnston, I am glad to be able to correct the record.

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