1993 Little Women – Classic Books
- Honors beloved children’s book Little Women, a literary classic read by countless Americans
- One of four stamps in the Classic Books set
- Issued during the annual conference of Literary Volunteers of America, Inc. in Louisville, Kentucky
29¢, First Class Mail Rate
First Day of Issue:
October 23, 1993
First Day City:
American Bank Note Company (6-color Miller offset sheetfed press and 3-color Giori Simplex intaglio sheetfed press)
Panes of 40 (vertical 8 across, 5 down)
11 x 11.1 (Bickel reciprocating stroke perforator)
Prephosphored paper and block tagging applied over Little Women
and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
Why the stamp was issued:
To honor a popular children’s book – Little Women
– that has become a literary classic in the United States.
About the stamp design:
Pictures Meg, the oldest sister in the novel, reading a letter to her sisters, Amy, Beth, and Jo, who are all gathered around. Meg has a letter in her lap, most likely from their father, a chaplain with the Union Army.
Special design details:
The design was modeled by Lamb’s wife Cathy, older daughter Kristi (13), and younger daughter Lisa (8), who dressed in period-appropriate costumes and provided reference poses for the stamp design.
First Day City:
The Classic Books stamps were issued in Louisville, Kentucky, to coincide with the annual conference of Literacy Volunteers of America, Inc.
About the Classic Books set:
The Classic Books stamps were created using artwork by Jim Lamb of Issaquah, Washington, with input by art director Richard Sheaff. The artwork pictured on the stamps was created using acrylic, with the posing of the figures referenced from photographs of Lamb’s family and friends in costumes. Lamb altered everyone’s faces to avoid the controversy of picturing living people on stamps. “What I was after was the poses and the way the fabric lies and the way the light strikes the subject,” he said. “When you’re doing a painting you like to have access to that kind of information, to bring a little more credibility, a little more reality to it.” Lamb skimmed each of the books to be represented on the stamps to get an idea of what images might be best. “In no case did I try to paint a specific scene from any of the novels. My whole idea was just to kind of capture the feel of the book rather than anything specific.”
The selvage of the panes reads “These stamps honor four/classic books enjoyed by/’youngsters of all ages.’” “Mark Twain’s (Samuel/L. Clemens) classic novel/ Huckleberry Finn
was/first published in 1884.” “Louisa May Alcott’s/enduring two-volume/Little Women
was first/published in 1868 &/1869.” “Kate Douglas Wiggin’s/long-popular Rebecca of
was/first published in 1903.” “Laura Ingalls Wilder’s/popular Little House on
was first/published in 1932.”
When the USPS pre-released the four stamp designs to the public in October 1992, some of their feedback led to adjustments to the original artwork. The Little Women
design was altered to make the oldest sister appear younger as audiences mistook her for Mrs. March rather than one of the sisters (Lamb gave the figure a braid instead of a bun and softened her features). The letter on the oldest sister’s lap was also changed from having a ragged, torn top to a smooth one.
The Huckleberry Finn
design was also changed to make the steamboat a sidewheel model rather than the original sternwheeler that was pictured (this made the boat more historically accurate to the time period the novel was set in). Lamb also took out some of the white flowers at Huck’s feet to improve the legibility of the “USA.”
History the stamp represents:
Largely autobiographical, Little Women
tells the story of four sisters growing up in New England in the 1800s. Instantly popular with the public, this classic gave American juvenile fiction an enduring family story.
The daughter of noted philosopher and educational reformer Bronson Alcott, Louisa May Alcott was surrounded by the likes of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Henry David Thoreau – all individuals who helped shape her ideas of social reform. When her father’s idealistic ventures repeatedly failed, she began working to support her family.
A nurse for the Union Army during the Civil War, she described her experiences in her first successful book, Hospital Sketches
. In 1867, she became the editor of Merry’s Museum
, a magazine for young girls. At the urging of her publisher to create a book for girls, she wrote Little Women
. Published in 1868-69, the book was an immediate success. Little Men
(1871) and Jo’s Boys
(1886) continued the story of the March family.