1993 Little House on the Prairie – Classic Books
- Honors beloved children’s book Little House on the Prairie, 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 House on the Prairie
– that has become a literary classic in the United States.
About the stamp design:
Pictures young Laura Ingalls next to the “little house on the prairie,” with her back to the viewer, holding a wooden pail. The background pictures blue sky with fluffy clouds
Special design details:
The Little House on the Prairie
stamp design is a near-mirror image of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
design – the figures are facing in opposite directions with their backs to the viewer and are both carrying wooden pails.
The sunbonnet worn by Laura in the stamp design is based on a real sunbonnet owned by Lamb’s great-aunt. She had worn it when she traveled as a homesteader from Missouri to Montana. “My mother, who was born in a sod house on the prairies of Montana, just happened to have kept her aunt’s sunbonnet, and had it in a box… It was perfect for what I needed,” Lamb said.
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:
Inspired by her childhood travels through the undeveloped frontier of the Midwest, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s series known as the “Little House” books, has been praised as a vivid literary saga of the American frontier.
Born in 1867 in Pepin, Wisconsin, Wilder traveled with her family by covered wagon through Kansas, Minnesota, and the Dakota Territory, where she met and married Almanzo Wilder. Although there was deprivation and hard work, there were also many happy times of love and laughter, all of which is captured in her endearing classics.
An editor for 12 years for the Missouri Ruralist
, Wilder began recording her childhood experiences at the urging of her daughter. Published in 1935, Little House on the Prairie
followed her first book, Little House in the Big Woods
. Seven other books later became part of the series. Received warmly by the public, the popularity of her books was boosted by the success of the television series, which first aired in 1974.
A reconstructed log cabin sits on the original site where the Ingalls family lived in Little House on the Prairie
from 1869 to 1879.