Love cartoons? Assistant Curator Georgina shares her favourite fun designs that appeared on stamps. 

History

Cartoons have been produced for centuries and in Britain, this began with William Hogarth. Rather than exaggerate what he saw, Hogarth created moral depictions of human life. In the latter part of the 18th century, you begin to see more political satire looking at the Royal family and the French Revolution. This continued into the 1800s culminating in one of the most famous satirical magazines of all time ‘Punch’.

Stamp depicting a cartoon of an angry dog with speech bubble saying 'FETCH THIS, FETCH THAT. LET THE CAT DO IT'.

‘FETCH THIS, FETCH THAT’ (Charles Barsotti), 1st NVI, Greetings Stamps, Cartoons, 1996

Greetings Stamps

In 1996 Royal Mail issued a series of Greetings Stamps that took the form of cartoons and featured the work of Mel Calman, Charles Barsotti and Zack Ziegler among others. There are some great postal related cartoons amongst them such as; ‘I’m writing to you because you don’t listen to a word I say….’ and ‘The cheque is in the post’. However, my favourite has to be Charles Barsotti’s image of the very unhappy dog wanting to be left alone.

'4:55 P.M.' (Charles Barsotti)
'4:55 P.M.' (Charles Barsotti)
'Do you have something for the HUMAN CONDITION?' (Leo Cullum)
'Do you have something for the HUMAN CONDITION?' (Leo Cullum)
'I'm writing to you because..' (Mel Calman)
'I'm writing to you because..' (Mel Calman)
'Dear lottery prize winner' (Larry)
'Dear lottery prize winner' (Larry)
'MENTAL FLOSS' (Mel Calman)
'MENTAL FLOSS' (Mel Calman)
'MORE! LOVE' (Mel Calman)
'MORE! LOVE' (Mel Calman)
'My day starts before I'm ready for it' (Mel Calman)
'My day starts before I'm ready for it' (Mel Calman)
'Sincerely' (Charles Barsotti)
'Sincerely' (Charles Barsotti)
'THE CHEQUE IN THE POST' (Jack Ziegler)
'THE CHEQUE IN THE POST' (Jack Ziegler)

Comedians

Gerlad Scarfe is a British satirical cartoonist who has produced work for Punch, Private Eye and the Sunday Times (where he was a political cartoonist). His work has also featured on television programmes such as ‘Yes Minister’. The below images were created for the Comedian issue of 1998, which looked at key characters on the comedy scene.

20p, Tommy Cooper
20p, Tommy Cooper
26p, Eric Morecombe
26p, Eric Morecombe
37p, Joyce Grenfell
37p, Joyce Grenfell
43p, Les Dawson
43p, Les Dawson
63p, Peter Cook
63p, Peter Cook

When searching through the artwork produced for the comedians’ issue I came across these lovely paintings of Eric Morecombe by Roger Brookes. I especially like these images and feel they have real life to them. This is a good example of how varied the designs of the artists commissioned to submit for a particular issue can be: you can see that a very different style of a stamp was taken forward.

Painting by Roger Brookes of Eric Morecombe with his glasses skewed.

Unadopted artwork by Roger Brookes of Eric Morecombe.

Painting by Roger Brookes of Eric Morecombe as he appears from behind a curtain.

Unadopted artwork by Roger Brookes of Eric Morecombe appearing behind a curtain.

Comics

In 2012 a set of stamps was produced looking at some of the biggest comic books for children. Some of these were produced by the family-run publisher DC Thomas. Founded in the 19th century, their first comic ‘The Dandy’ was released on the 4 December 1937. A small replica of this issue was produced to accompany the Presentation Pack issued with this stamp set. They also went on to produce the comic I remember most ‘The Beano’, with its troublesome character Dennis the Menace.

The Beano, 1st, Comics, 2012
The Beano, 1st, Comics, 2012
The Dandy, 1st, Comics, 2012
The Dandy, 1st, Comics, 2012
Image of cover of a reproduction of first Dandy Comic that was produced in 1937.

Reproduction of The Dandy Comic 1937 which accompanied the Comic 2012 Presentation Pack.

I hope you’ve enjoyed finding the funnier side of stamps and celebrating in national cartoonist day with me.

-Georgina Tomlinson, Assistant Curator (Philately)