World Stamps

Isle of Man stamps celebrate the great American novel

Jul 22, 2019, 10 AM

By Denise McCarty

The Isle of Man Post Office commemorates the 200th birth anniversary of American writer Herman Melville on a set of six stamps issued July 22.

Melville, best known for his 1851 novel Moby Dick, was born Aug. 1, 1819, in New York City.

Manx-born artist Juan Moore created illustrations of six characters from Moby Dick for the new stamps. All are crew members of the fictional whaling ship Pequod.

The character called the Manxman is portrayed on a nondenominated international-rate stamp inscribed “RoW” (rest of the world).

In the press release announcing the stamps, the Isle of Man Post office said: “If you’ve not read Moby Dick, the chances are you will not know of its Isle of Man connection … a character called The Manxman. He is the oldest crew member and is described as ‘sepulchral.’ Melville paints him as something of a mystic, a man who has ‘studied signs’ and who Ishmael says has ‘preternatural powers of discernment.’ Most sailors are superstitious folk and The Manxman’s role is to wax lyrical on the omens, good and bad, facing the crew of the Pequod.”

The other stamps feature Captain Ahab with a harpoon (nondenominated first-class); the narrator Ishmael (EU, for European rate); chief mate Starbuck (nondenominated stamp for large letters); the harpooner Queequeg (£1.52 value stamp); and second mate Stubb (£1.85) with a pipe. Each illustration also shows Captain Ahab's nemesis, the great white whale Moby Dick.

EJC Design created the stamps, using Moore’s illustrations. Cartor SA printed the stamps by offset lithography in separate sheets of 15.

The United States honored Melville on a 6¢ stamped envelope in 1970 (Scott U554) and on a 20¢ stamp issued Aug. 1, 1984 (Scott 2094), in the Literary Arts series. Also, a Rockwell Kent drawing of Moby Dick appears on a 34¢ stamp (3502q) in the 2001 American Illustrators pane of 20.

Other countries have paid tribute to Melville on stamps, including Niger on a 1985 International Youth Year stamp (Scott 682), French Polynesia on 1992 stamp marking the 150th anniversary of his visit to the islands (602), and Uruguay on a 2001 stamp honoring the 150th anniversary of the publication of Moby Dick (1912).

For ordering information for the Isle of Man’s new set, visit the Isle of Man Post Office website.

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