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Black Heritage Stamp Series: Portraiture

The Black Heritage series has always commemorated people rather than organizations or events. As a result, its attraction lies in the strength of its portraiture. This presents challenges when representing early subjects for whom there are few source images, but it has also produced stunning and memorable designs.
 

15¢ Benjamin Banneker approved stamp art by Jerry Pinkney, c. 1980

15¢ Benjamin Banneker approved stamp art by Jerry Pinkney, c. 1980
15¢ Benjamin Banneker approved stamp art by Jerry Pinkney, c. 1980
Loan from the United States Postal Service, Postmaster General's Collection
Loan from the United States Postal Service, Postmaster
General's Collection

The only known image of the scientist and surveyor Benjamin Banneker is a very crude woodcut from the cover of his 1795 Almanac. Nevertheless, the illustrator delivered a sensitive and believable portrait for this stamp.

22¢ Jean Baptiste Point du Sable approved stamp art by Thomas Blackshear II, c. 1987

22¢ Jean Baptiste Point du Sable approved stamp art by Thomas Blackshear II, c. 1987
22¢ Jean Baptiste Point du Sable approved stamp art by Thomas Blackshear II, c. 1987
Loan from the United States Postal Service, Postmaster General's Collection
Loan from the United States Postal Service, Postmaster
General's Collection

There are no extant portraits of Chicago pioneer du Sable or his cabin; other artists’ conceptions inspired Blackshear’s haunting portrait.

37¢ Marian Anderson approved stamp art by Albert Slark, c. 2005

37¢ Marian Anderson approved stamp art by Albert Slark, c. 2005
37¢ Marian Anderson approved stamp art by Albert Slark, c. 2005
Loan from the United States Postal Service, Postmaster General's Collection
Loan from the United States Postal Service, Postmaster
General's Collection

Canadian-born artist Albert Slark created this full-color oil portrait of Marian Anderson from a circa 1934 black-and-white photograph. Easily one of the most beautiful designs in the Black Heritage series, it won numerous awards and was exhibited at the Society of Illustrators 48th Annual Exhibition in New York City.


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