JANE AUSTEN BICENTENARY CELEBRATION
COMMEMORATIVE STAMPS 1975
Thanks for joining us this week for Jane Austen’s 232nd. birthday celebration honoring the design and issue of her bicentenary stamps in Great Britain in 1975. I hope you enjoyed learning about the fascinating design process, the history of their release and the celebration by the Jane Austen community in Britain.
Well, never one to not have her say, I could not pass up the opportunity to comment on the designs and throw in some additional tidbits. So here goes!
In retrospect, the stamps were a success artistically because of designer Barbara Brown’s sensitivity and respect to Jane Austen’s work and characters. Learning about her design decisions only added to my appreciation of her choices, and the Stamp Advisory Commission’s excellent choice of an illustrator to create the stamps. I loved how she chose to work in miniature, when very few stamp designers of her day did so. It was brave and worked in her favour. Her choice of the six different characters representing her thoughts on the most popular novels and which character would best represent them was apt. The accuracy of their clothing, scenery and attitudes added to the overall success of the designs and earned the respect and gratitude of the Jane Austen community, and properly honored the bicentenary celebration.
This is one of the Jane Austen First Day Covers with Jeffery Matthews beautiful Regency inspired artwork and hand-stamp of Jane Austen’s initials. I think that it complemented the stamp designs and colours perfectly.
This is another example of one of the Jane Austen First Day Covers showing the additional artwork that was commissioned of Emma & Mr. Woodhouse from the novel Emma that designer Barbara Brown furnished.
This is the Jane Austen First Day Cover specially issued by the city of Bath featuring a portrait of Jane Austen that had been commissioned by Jane Austen’s family in 1869, and was on the frontis page of the book A Memoir of Jane Austen, written by her nephew James Edward Austen Leigh. Also of note is the beautiful hand-stamp by Jeffery Matthews inspired by the drawing of Jane Austen by her sister Cassandra.
And finally, I thought that you might like to see the set of Christmas stamps that eliminated the Jane Austen set from being issued on her birthday of December 16th. Far be it from me to say that Jane Austen should supersede the celebration of our Lord’s birth, but some say that in the literary world, – – they are close to the same thing!
A very special shout out to Lucy Shepherd, Archives and Record Management Assistant of The British Postal Museum & Archive for her expert help in locating the excellently written research document Special Stamp History 105, Birth Bicentenary of Jane Austen, 22 October, 1975, by Giles Allen, 9 January 1997 which was the primary source of my article.
*Image of Jane Austen Bicentenary Commemorative First Day Presentation Pack, designed by Jeffery Matthews, 22 October 1975
*Image of the Jane Austen First Day Cover issued in Great Britain, (1975)
*Image of the Jane Austen First Day Cover issued by the city of Bath, Great Briain, (1975)
*Image of the Christmas First Day Cover issued in Great Britain, (1975)
Thanks for the interesting series of posts “Jane Goes Postal”. I’d really appreciated the amount of work you must have put in and the beautiful postal art samples you’ve included in these posts.
Hi Arti, you are most welcome. I am glad that you enjoyed the story and the artwork. I was curious about the stamp’s illustrator, and learned much more along the way and wanted to share it with other Janeites. I hope that others enjoyed it also. Cheers, Laurel Ann
Yes, kudos for an insightful series. I think these stamps are gorgeous, and I love that they have a tale to tell!
I may have to buy myself a set of these. They seem like a wonderful collector’s item. I see that they are available on ebay…
Jan Fan, I bought my set on eBay, but if you do a Google search, there are stamp collectors/dealers who have them also, so look around. Good luck, Laurel Ann