Love cartoons? Assistant Curator Georgina shares her favourite fun designs that appeared on stamps.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I hope you’ve enjoyed finding the funnier side of stamps and celebrating in national cartoonist day with me.
-Georgina Tomlinson, Assistant Curator (Philately)