The World of Jack London
Latch string is always on the outside
Jack London US Postage Stamp Issued by the United States Postal Service

By Harry James Cook

Jack London U. S. Postal StampOne of the highlights of the year, however, was the issue of the 25-cent Jack London stamp by the United States Postal Service at a celebration in Glen Ellen at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, January 11, 1986. The stamp, the 27th issue in the Great American Series, coincided with London’s 110th birthday. The first day issue ceremony was held at the Dunbar Elementary School, with keynote speakers Nancy George, Executive Assistant to the Postmaster General, and Russ Kingman, Executive Director of the Jack London Foundation. Honored guests on the platform also included: Bess (Becky) London Fleming, Jack London’s daughter; Daniel Danieli, Postmaster, Glen Ellen; and Richard Sparks, designer of the Jack London stamp. Earle Labor and I. Milo Shepard were given special recognition for their efforts on the project. According to advance information in the philatelic publication Stamps, Vol. 213, No. 13, December 28, 1985, p. 605,

The London stamp was designed by Richard Sparks of Norwalk, Connecticut, under the direction of Howard Paine, a design coordinator for the Citizens’ Advisory Committee. Bradbury Thompson was the typographer. Sparks based his design on a photograph of London taken in 1914 by the author’s wife, Charmian. “USA 25" appears at the stamp’s upper right corner, and “Jack London” is printed below the portrait at the base of the design.

The stamp was engraved by Thomas Hipschen (vignette) and Dennis Brown (lettering and numerals). Both men are with the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which produced the stamps in blue by the intaglio printing method.

Russ and Earle Labor began the ten-year campaign to have the U.S. Postal Service issue a London stamp in 1975, as the U.S. was gearing up for the Bicentennial. Since 1976 was Jack London’s Centennial, both men felt that one of America’s greatest writers should be so honored. They were unaware of the long, sometimes political process involved in achieving such a goal. After Russ received a letter from Gordon C. Morrison, Director, Office of Stamps, April 11, 1975, giving directions on how to proceed, both Russ and Earle began a massive petition and letter writing campaign to have Jack’s name placed on the nomination list of the Citizens’ Advisory Committee for new stamp issues. Those who wrote letters to the Postmaster General included a number of political leaders on state and national levels and the following members of the Jack London circle: Carl Bernatovich, Glenn Carey, James Cooper, Steve Dhondt, Richard Etulain, Alan Jutzi, Don Kummings, Howard Lachtman, Robin Lampson, Sal Noto, Jim Sisson, Alfred Shivers, Paul Schlueter, Dick Weiderman, Dale Walker, and Hensley Woodbridge. Becky London and Jacqueline wrote persuasive letters as well.

Jack London US Postal Stamp Ceremony In November, 1985, Russ, Winnie, and all people who worked for the stamp felt a deep sense of satisfaction when the Postal Service called Russ to request a date and location for the celebration of the first day issue. Since Jack London's birthday, January 12, fell on a Sunday, Russ chose Saturday, January 11. The Postal Service originally wanted a site at the Jack London State Historic Park. They intended to erect a tent near the manure pit, but Russ quickly dissuaded them from this plan because he felt the location totally inappropriate. In addition, Russ wanted an inside location in case of rain. The auditorium at Dunbar Elementary School, Glen Ellen, thus became the site.

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