1997 Bugs Bunny (Pane of 1)
- First cartoon character pictured on a US stamp
- First self-adhesive stamp sheet produced in the United States
- The first stamp in the Looney Tunes series
Looney Tunes Series
First Day of Issue:
May 22, 1997
First Day City:
Avery Dennison Security Printing
Panes of 10 (Vertical 3 across, 3 down, with 10th
stamp set apart in selvage portion)
11 (Die-cut simulated perforations)
Why the stamp was issued:
To honor Bugs Bunny and make him the USPS “ambassador to youth” and encourage children to take up stamp collecting as a hobby as part of its Stampers youth program.
About the stamp design:
Pictures Bugs Bunny smiling and leaning on an old-fashioned style wooden mailbox with his legs crossed and a half-eaten carrot in his hand. Nine stamps are grouped together next to a detachable card picturing an enlarged image of the stamp design and a 10th
“pre-saved” stamp in the denomination spot. The card also includes Bugs’s signature.
Special design details:
Stamp design manager Terrence McCaffrey said he looked at over 150 different sketches from Warner Bros. Studios during the stamp design process. The original plan was to produce four different designs, but that later changed to just one. The actual stamp design was done by Warner Bros. under the supervision of McCaffrey.
First Day City:
The stamp was dedicated at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California.
The earliest usage of the Bugs Bunny stamp was on an envelope machine-canceled in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, on May 16th
, six days before the stamp’s official First Day of Issue.
When the Bugs Bunny stamp was announced, many people were unhappy about an animated character being pictured on a stamp. They felt Bugs was too commercial and that honoring him would cheapen America’s stamp program. One newspaper editor wrote the stamp was “a new low in commercializing and trivializing [the Postal Service’s] once high-minded stamp program.” But a USPS official replied that Bugs was appropriate for a stamp design because he was a “unique part of American history.”
About the Looney Tunes Series:
The Looney Tunes stamp series began after the 1997 Bugs Bunny stamps proved to be wildly popular. The USPS issued four more stamps over the next four years in the same formats as Bugs Bunny (including scarce imperforate sheets, though none were produced in such low quantites as Bugs). This included Sylvester and Tweety, Coyote and Road Runner, and Porky Pig stamps. The Porky Pig stamp was the last in the series and included his signature saying “That’s all Folks!”
History the stamp represents:
Since his big-screen debut in 1940, Bugs Bunny and his trademark greeting, “Eh, what’s up, Doc?” have become fixtures of American popular culture. Best known for his uproarious performances in Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodie cartoons, Bugs also appeared in newspaper comics, comic books, and children’s books.
A character closely resembling Bugs was used during the late 1930s in several cartoons directed by Ben “Bugs” Hardaway and Cal Dalton. When designer Charlie Thorson labeled the character sheet as “Bugs’ bunny,” the “wascawwy wabbit” got his name. But it wasn’t until 1940 that the character known and loved as Bugs Bunny made his appearance. The cumulative creative effort of several brilliant individuals, most notably Tex Avery, Friz Freleng, Chuck Jones, Bob Clampett, and Robert McKimson, Bugs made his big-screen debut in Tex Avery’s 1940 short, A Wild Hare
. Talented actor Mel Blanc gave a voice to the Brooklyn bunny.
During World War II, Bugs was enlisted to promote the war bond effort and was adopted as a member of the Seabees. Appointed “Ambassador for the Stampers program” by the United States Postal Service in 1996, the famous hare was honored on a postage stamp the following year in an effort to get young people interested in stamp collecting.