The new cheerful Forever stamps, replacing the unexciting Liberty Bell, reminded me that at a certain age our older son attended the Anchorage Stamp Club on Saturday mornings. In the basement of an Anchorage recreation center, with great diligence and enthusiasm, he sifted through piles of stamps heaped on tables by the club’s adult sponsors.

Our other son, too much younger to understand stamps (let alone the intricacies of condition and provenance that fascinated his brother) was nevertheless intense in his pursuit of an equal number of stamps.

In spite of absolutely no interest from either son now, I’m loath to part with these tiny pictures of British gardens or Alaska wildlife, or the postmarked first-day-of-issue envelopes sent by a friend in England or by the boys’ grandfather. Little depictions of the world.

The artist Donald Evans really made worlds of stamps. The book about his work, “The World of Donald Evans,” by Willy Eisenhart delights me always. In his short lifetime, Evans created countless exquisite watercolored stamps, each one perforated at the edge (dots made by an manual typewriter) and cancelled (by a rubber stamp he carved). Stamps for imaginary countries Evans invented, and stamps celebrating everyday things from fruit to friends, umbrellas to chickens.

Evans told the Paris Review in 1975: “The stamps are a kind of diary or journal…It’s vicarious traveling for me to a made-up world that I like better than the one that I’m in. No catastrophes occur. There are no generals or battles or warplanes on my stamps. The countries are innocent, peaceful, composed.”

2 thoughts on “Forever

  1. I like the thought of these tiny worlds. And Frances makes a wonderful forever stamp.
    My dad collected stamps and first issue envelopes when he was young, but at some point in the last 20 years he gave most of them away to one of his niece’s sons after my children showed no interest. I’m sure there are still some of those tiny worlds tucked away in a dust covered box at his house. Thanks for reminding me about them!

  2. I want a Frances stamp! I think the post office should adopt it…most of the forever stamps are so boring. I did get some the colorful flowers – instead of the liberty bell – but they pale in comparison to Frances.

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