Postage Stamps by Type Designers

  • Fonts in Use
Fonts in Use | Yves Peters | October 29, 2008

To celebrate eleven months since the publication of Lance Hidy’s Designing the Mentoring Stamp Kat Ran Press have uploaded a gallery of over 300 web pages showcasing over 300 postage stamps from their collection of stamps designed by type designers. Nineteen celebrated designers are featured on these pages, including

Lance Hidy | Designing the Mentoring Stamp

Although a field that is often overlooked by bibliophiles and historians of printing and typography, several of the most important contributors to twentieth century book and letter arts have made significant contributions to the design of the seemingly modest postage stamp. Eric Gill, although only responsible for one design marking the reign of George VI, had (as one might expect) exacting and pointed opinions about stamp design, and carried out a lengthy public debate on the matter in the pages of the Times. Jan van Krimpen and his Enschedé colleague S.L. Hartz, designed hundreds of stamps for the Netherlands and her colonies. These, and the hundreds of examples by the above designers, are an unexplored resource of tremendous lettering and calligraphy which also provide exceptional insights into how these designers worked and solved problems.

Numeral stamps by Wim Crouwel, 1976

I asked Michael how this very genre-specific stamp collection had been assembled.

Curating the collection consists mainly of scouring foreign-language stamp catalogues for the names of type designers. (Most English-language catalogues don’t credit designers.) Online inquiries have resulted in clues and suggestion for certain designers for whom I should look. I then set about cataloguing and collecting every stamp. Most stamp dealers are not interested in twentieth century stamps as they aren’t worth very much, so it’s rare that one dealer will have more than a few of what I’m looking for. I started buying Jan Van Krimpen stamps in 1999, and still have a few more to go. They’re easy to find, but these last stamps are terribly expensive. So.

The collection can be viewed here. Although it’s possible to pick and choose which designer’s philatelic work you’d like to study, the easiest way to see all of the stamps is to simply click on one stamp to see the next. And if you thought you knew all about the work of the above designers, think again. You’re guaranteed to find new work you never knew they’d done.

Header image: Olympic stamps by Erik Spiekermann, 1992


  1. For those who now have developed an appetite for terrific tiny type: there is an awesome website by the Dutch post, made in collaboration with the Museum for Communication in The Hague : is a compilation of graphic design history, in reference to Dutch stamps and the PTT/TNT – with a lot of information about the designers – including works by Irma Boom, Experimental Jetset, Anthon Beeke, Studio Dumbar, Max Kisman or Piet Zwart, to name but a few. Unfortunately, in Dutch only.

    Posted by Florian on Oct. 30, 2008
  2. I’m trying to locate at least a picture of a Dutch postage stamp from sometime in the 1980’s, I think. My husband and I lived in The Hague 87-90. We bought a numbered print of three Oude Scheveningen women, wives of fishermen, seated, in traditional dress. We were told that the picture was also used on a postage stamp, although we never actually saw such a stamp. Now we would be interested in seeing, possibly buying the stamp. Any help you can provide would be appreciated.

    Bernie Brown

    Posted by Bernie Brown on Aug. 8, 2010

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