US Stamps

Stamp for author Toni Morrison to arrive March 7 in Princeton, N.J.

Feb 17, 2023, 8 AM
Toni Morrison, author of acclaimed novels such as Song of Solomon and Beloved, will be honored on a United States nondenominated (63¢) commemorative forever stamp to be issued March 7 in Princeton, N.J.

By Charles Snee

Acclaimed author Toni Morrison (1931-2019) will be honored on a United States commemorative forever stamp to be issued March 7 in Princeton, N.J.

A first-day ceremony for the new nondenominated (63¢) Toni Morrison stamp is scheduled for 11 a.m. Eastern Standard Time in the Richardson Auditorium of Alexander Hall, 68 Nassau St., in Princeton. Alexander Hall is located on the campus of Princeton University.

The location of the ceremony is a nod to a chapter in Morrison’s past because she was the Robert F. Goheen professor in the humanities at Princeton University from 1989 until her retirement in 2006.

Those who plan to attend the ceremony are requested to register online with the U.S. Postal Service. Each attendee may invite up to four additional guests, according to the USPS.

The Toni Morrison stamp will be available for purchase in panes of 20 nationwide on the first day of issue. A total of 30 million stamps (1.5 million panes) were printed by Banknote Corporation of America of Browns Summit, N.C.

A plate number consisting of the letter B (for Banknote Corporation of America) followed by four single digits will appear in each corner of the pane. Each digit represents one of the four process colors used to print the stamp: cyan, magenta, yellow and black.

In addition to panes of 20, the Toni Morrison stamp will be available in die-cut uncut press sheets of six panes and uncut press sheets of six panes without die cuts. Both will sell for their face value, $75.60.

The press sheets must be ordered from the Postal Service’s online Postal Store.

According to the USPS, Stamp Fulfillment Services will not make an automatic push distribution of the Toni Morrison stamp to post offices. Therefore, it is likely that some post offices will not have panes available for sale on March 7.

Postal Service art director Ethel Kessler designed the stamp, which shows a photograph of Morrison taken by Deborah Feingold in 2000.

A smiling Morrison, wearing dark clothing, is shown in a relaxed posture against a bright yellow background and looking to her right with her hands lightly clasped in front of her.

Before making a final decision regarding the design of the stamp, Kessler spent time learning about Morrison and her literary output.

“So many considerations go into deciding how to approach stamp design for a well-known personality,” Kessler told Linn’s Stamp News.

“First I needed to read a few of Ms. Morrison’s most well-known books,” Kessler said.

“Then I was shown lots of photos and illustrations previously published of her to see how she was interpreted by others.

“I first thought I would go in the illustration direction, but this photo of her, by Deborah Feingold was so bright, such a great expression, and so immediate, that I thought it worked perfectly.”

Kessler said she wasn’t necessarily committed to using a photograph for the stamp.

“Another consideration in the stamp design process is which template to use,” she said.

“In this case, [Morrison] fit best in square format. This seemed to bring her closest to the viewer … eye to eye.”

Morrison was born Chloe Ardelia Wofford on Feb. 18, 1931, in Lorain, Ohio. She joined the Roman Catholic Church at the age of 12. While an undergraduate at Howard University, she started calling herself Toni.

She married Jamaican architect Harold Morrison in 1958. They divorced in 1964.

Her first novel, The Bluest Eye, was published in 1970. At the time, she was ...

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