33¢ Dr. Seuss’ “Cat in the Hat”
Celebrate the Century – 1950s
Issue Date: May 26, 1999
City: Springfield, MA
Printed By: Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed, engraved
In the 1950s, illiteracy among children in the U.S. was on the rise. Experts blamed America’s interest in television, coupled with the belief that most children’s books were dull and unappealing. In 1955, Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, began writing a children’s book from a vocabulary list of 225 words. After much frustration, he decided that the first two words from the list that rhymed would be the title of the book. That is how “The Cat in the Hat” was born.
As Dr. Seuss struggled with the verse, he made sketches of the Cat. He wanted a sly troublemaker who wouldn’t strike readers as mean. The tall, wily character in a red-and-white stovetop hat confidently walked on two legs, and could juggle and ski. Dr. Seuss combined fanciful illustrations with simple, clever verse to describe the character’s fantastic personality. The Cat became the best-known animal in the Dr. Seuss menagerie.
“The Cat in the Hat” sold out in bookstores across the country as soon as it was released in 1957. It became a national sensation, with nearly a million copies sold within three years. Editions were available in French, Chinese, Swedish, and Braille. As a result of the success of “The Cat in the Hat,” Dr. Seuss started Beginner Books, a publishing house for children’s stories.