1997 Bela Lugosi as Dracula – Classic Movie Monsters
- Honors Bela Lugosi in his role as Dracula
- Part of the Classic Movie Monsters Series – one of USPS’s efforts to get young people interested in stamp collecting
- Issued at the beginning of Stamp Collecting Month
- Includes scrambled indicia
Classic Movie Monsters
32¢, First Class Mail Rate
First Day of Issue:
September 30, 1997
First Day City:
Universal City, California
Printed for Stamp Venturers by J.W. Fergusson & Sons of Richmond Virginia with Scrambled Indicia by Graphic Security Systems Corporation of Lake Worth, Florida
Photogravure, Scrambled Indicia
Panes of 20 (Vertical 5 across, 4 down)
10.2 x 10.1
Overall tagging that stops short of each margin, leaving 14 outside stamps partly untagged
Why the stamp was issued:
To honor “Classic Movie Monster,” Dracula, and actor Bela Lugosi who famously played the character.
About the stamp design:
Pictures a portrait by artist Thomas Blackshear (previous stamp artist for the 1990 Classic Films, 1993 Joe Louis, and 1995 Jazz Musicians stamps). Blackshear later said creating the stamp art was a “treat” because “monsters have always been a passion with me. I used to collect Famous Monsters of Filmland
when I was a kid… Also, I had almost every monster model kit that was ever put out.”
The name of the actor is printed in small white dropout type with the character’s name in large, brightly colored lettering suggestive of classic movie posters.
The stamp includes a hidden image only viewable with a special stamp decoder. Scrambled indicia was a new tactic used by the USPS beginning with the 1997 US Air Force stamp to attempt to combat counterfeiting. This stamp pictures bats when viewed with the decoder.
First Day City:
The First Day of Issue Ceremony for these stamps was held at Universal Studios, Hollywood, in California.
About the Classic Movie Monsters set:
These five stamps were issued to kick off Stamp Collecting Month and honor “Classic Movie Monsters” from Universal Studios films and the actors who played them. The set was also part of the USPS’s efforts to attract young people to stamp collecting.
On the pane of 20, there are photographs of the actors on either side of the “Classic Movie Monsters” inscription along with each actor’s signature. All five stamps include scrambled indicia. Here are the hidden images that can be seen on each:
Phantom of the Opera – Floating masks
Dracula – Bats
Frankenstein – Bolts of electricity
Mummy – Ancient Egyptian gods/goddesses
Wolf Man – Howling wolves
History the stamp represents:
In 1931, the movie Dracula
, based on the novel of the same name by Bram Stoker, shocked audiences with its tale of Transylvania’s Count Dracula. An undead creature known as a vampire, Dracula has an insatiable thirst for human blood. To feed his craving, Dracula seeks innocent victims at night and then drinks their blood. Since sunlight is deadly for vampires, during the day he must take shelter in a coffin.
Stoker’s novel was based on vampire legends that arose from a real source – Vlad Tepes, also known as Vlad the Impaler. The sadistic fifteenth-century prince of Walachia, a region south of Transylvania, Tepes committed hundreds of savage murders. His favorite method for dispatching his enemies was to drive a sharpened stake through their bodies.
The man responsible for bringing the ghoulish, yet elegant Count Dracula to life was Bela Lugosi. Well-suited for the part, the Hungarian-born Lugosi was a classically trained actor with a heavy accent. He had also starred in the 1927 Broadway production of Dracula
Dracula brought Lugosi international fame, and he was subsequently typecast in the genre. He also starred in The Black Cat
(1934), Mark of the Vampire
(1935), The Wolf Man
(1941), and The Ape Man