Lewis Carroll is connected with the philatelic world in a number of ways. This page gives some details of Carroll’s connections with the postal service, listing all the postage stamps with a Carroll connection that members of the LCS have been able to locate and some other post-related matters.
Carroll wrote a number of letters to the post office and other organisations relating to letter writing and the postal service. These covered subjects such as a special design of a cape to protect letters whilst being delivered and comments on the rules for registering letters and parcels.
In 1890 he devised The Wonderland Postage Stamp Case, a folded piece of cloth-reinforced card containing pockets into which postage stamps could be kept. This was held in a card slipcase of around 10.5cm x 8cm. Both parts were illustrated by coloured adaptations of Tenniel, producing a transformation effect: Alice with the baby becomes Alice with the pig and The Cheshire Cat fades away. The item was published by Emberlin and Son and was sold, in a printed envelope, together with a small booklet written by Carroll titled Eight or Nine Wise Words about Letter-Writing
In 1891, Carroll discovered that the rules for commissions chargeable on overdue postal orders, as defined in the Post Office Guide were ambiguous. He published a questionnaire in an attempt to solicit various opinions on the meaning of the rules. A supplement was produced in the same year.
Postage Stamps from the U.K.
THE YEAR OF THE CHILD
11 July 1979 – First Issue
A set of four stamps was issued to celebrate the ‘Year of the Child’, of which the 13 pence value includes in its design Alice, the Hatter and the Cheshire Cat. The drawings are after Tenniel. The presentation pack produced by the British Post Office for this issue included a picture of Lewis Carroll A Post Office Picture Card was produced depicting this stamp, number PHQ 37 (d) 5/79, issued on 18 July 1979, price 8p.
20 February 1980 – War on Want
The international charity organization ‘War on Want’ produced an unofficial miniature sheet containing the four ‘Year of the Child’ stamps. Each stamp was printed with a diagonal black bar across one corner to prevent their being used fraudulently for postage. This sheet contained in its margins the logos of Lufthansa, Europa, War on Want and the Year of the Child. Although this sheet states that it was issued with the authority of the British Post Office, this was not so and the Post Office publicly disowned the item.
GREETINGS STAMPS – SMILERS
6 February 1990 – First Issue
This was a booklet of ten first class stamps in se-tenant sheet form labelled ‘Greetings Stamps’. The contents consist of ten pictorial stamps each with a value of 20 pence. One of them shows Tenniel’s Cheshire Cat grinning broadly, designed by Harry Willcock, after John Tenniel. A second item on the sheet shows the face of a Queen of Hearts, drawn by Colin Elgie, although this is not specifically Carroll’s Queen of Hearts.
26 March 1991 – Greetings Booklet
The same designs as above, but in a differently designed booklet cover. Each stamp now has the Non Value Indicator ‘1st’ instead of the previous 20p.
22 May 2000 – Greetings Booklet
The international Philatelic Exhibition held in Earls Court in May 2000, simply called the ‘Stamp Show’, used the same ten designs as above in a postally valid souvenir sheet, which was on sale at the Exhibition. The stamps were alternated on this sheet with labels, which read ‘The Stamp Show 2000’. It was possible to have one’s own photograph substituted for these labels by a processing system installed at the exhibition.
3 July 2001 – Smile with Mr Punch
The same ten designs as above, but issued inside yet a third differently designed booklet entitled ‘Smile with Mr Punch’. A smiling Mr Punch was in fact one of these ten designs.
SUBSEQUENT GREETINGS STAMPS
2 February 1993
A further booklet containing ten first class pictorial stamps, entitled ‘Greetings Stamps’, was issued in 1993 but with different designs from the above. One of these designs, in black and white, shows Tweedledum and Tweedledee each holding a chess pawn, one black and one white. The design, after Tenniel, is by Paul Slater. This booklet also contains a page of small labels with words of greetings on them and in this booklet there is a label that reproduces the two pawns held by the Tweedles and reads ‘Happy Birthday Happy Birthday’.
This booklet was reprinted twice during 1993 and each of these reprints corrects an error made in the first printing. The name of the designer of one of the stamps was first spelled Thompson and then corrected to Thomson.
The Post Office produced a postcard depicting this stamp, with reference “Royal Mail Stamp Card. Series GS1(b) 2/93”.
1 February 1994
The cover of this booklet had a design including Rupert Bear, Paddington Bear and the Ice Dragon. Inside are ten first class pictorial stamps, one of which reproduces Tenniel’s drawing of Alice inside the White Rabbit’s bedroom with her arm stuck out of the window. Artist Paul Slater has modified the drawing to show Alice with a letter in her free hand. There is also a page of greetings labels in the booklet, one of which shows a little bottle with a tag tied to it reading ‘Drink Me’ and the words ‘Many Happy Returns’.
The Post Office produced a postcard depicting this stamp, with reference “Royal Mail Stamp Card. Series GSd(d) 2/94”. A variant exists with the words “ send a little happiness with royal mail” in place of the reference number.
21 July 1998
A set of five stamps was issued on this theme. The 63 pence stamp, designed by Peter Malone, shows Alice and the Red Queen running as fast as they can to stay on the spot.
The Post Office produced a postcard depicting this stamp, with reference “Royal Mail Stamp Card. Series PHQ 199(e) 7.98”.
Postage Stamps from Around the World
This small Central African republic issued a single stamp in 1977 with a value of 26 Francs. The design is the Arthur Rackham picture of the Mad Tea Party.
This island republic situated between Madagascar and coast of Africa produced a set of six stamps in 1976 on European fairy tales. The 30 Franc stamp shows Alice and the March Hare in the foreground with the Hatter sitting at the tea table in the background. The design is believed to be based on the illustrations from a French edition of Wonderland.
9 September 1977 – Exhibition of Book Illustrators
A set of stamps was issued to commemorate the biennial Exhibition of Book Illustrators held in Prague. The two Krona stamp had the design of a line of flamingos and a dog’s head. It is stated to be from the 1974 edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland illustrated by Nicole Claveloux.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
2001 – Christmas
Nine one franc stamps were issued by this African country previously known as Zaire, in the form of a miniature sheet, showing scenes from ‘ Alice au Pays des Merveilles’. These designs appeared originally as illustrations by the artist Carlos Busquets in a French edition of Wonderland.
1 May 1984 – Easter
A set of nine stamps with values from ½ cent up to four dollars was issued by this Caribbean island state for Easter 1984. The five cents stamp showed the Walt Disney White Rabbit.
9 September 1987 – 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney Films
A sheet of nine different 30 cent stamps was issued by this Caribbean island state to commemorate this anniversary. The subjects of the stamps are as follows: Alice and Dinah looking down the Rabbit Hole; Alice inside a bottle on the lake of her tears; The walrus and the carpenter; The White Rabbit’s house; The caterpillar/butterfly; The Hatter and the March Hare; Alice and the talking flowers; The Queen of Hearts; Alice in the courtroom. There was a also a miniature sheet with a value of 5 dollars, showing Alice with Dinah sitting up on the branch of a tree, with her sister reading her book below.
THE GRENADINES OF GRENADA
16 November 1987 – ‘Hafnia’ Stamp Exhibition, Copenhagen
A set of eight stamps with Disney characters based on Andersen’s Fairy Tales was issued by these Caribbean islands to commemorate this international stamp exhibition. The 4 dollars value shows ’Thumbelina’, but she looks exactly like the Disney Alice.
1988 – Christmas
Two miniature sheets were issued each containing a 7 dollar stamp with a montage of Disney characters. The background to one of these contains a tiny Alice.
30 December 1991 – Christmas
In spite of the date of issue, this set was intended to be for Christmas and is stated to have been taken from the designs of some 1974 Walt Disney Christmas cards. The 50 dollars value contained Alice and the Cheshire Cat, plus Robin Hood and Goofy.
Guyana also issued a miniature sheet in 2001 with an Alice theme but full details of this item have not yet been located.
22 December 1980 – Christmas
The Indian Ocean island republic of the Maldives issued a set of nine stamps and one miniature sheet using Walt Disney’s Alice in Wonderland characters for their designs. The set comprises the following: 1Laari, White Rabbit and Watch; 2Laari, Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole; 3Laari, Alice and the tiny door into the garden; 4Laari, Tweedledum and Tweedledee; 5Laari, Alice and the Caterpillar; 10Laari, The Cheshire Cat; 15Laari, The gardeners painting the roses red; 2.5 Rufiyas, Alice and the Queen of Hearts; 4 Rufiyas; Alice in the courtroom. The miniature sheet has the value of 5 Rufiyas and shows Alice, the Hatter and the March Hare around the tea table, with the Dormouse inside the teapot.
1982 – 150th Anniversary of the Birth of Lewis Carroll
This Saharan republic issued a set of three stamps. The 110 CFA Francs value shows a portrait of Lewis Carroll, with a flamingo, mouse, Alice and the King of Hearts in the background. The 130 CFA Francs value shows Alice with her crown and with Humpty Dumpty, the Walrus and tiger lilies in the background. The 140 CFA Francs value has Alice in the White Rabbit’s bedroom with the White Rabbit, the caterpillar and another smaller Alice in the background. The designs are by J Combet.
THE REPUBLIC OF PALAU
13 October 1989 – The Year of the Young Reader
This Pacific Island republic in the Western Caroline Islands issued a set for the ‘Year of the Young Reader’. The 25 cents value shows Tenniel’s Cheshire Cat in a tree.
2001 – The Age of Victoria
A set of stamps was issued to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the death of Queen Victoria, which included a 50 pence value bearing the portrait of Lewis Carroll. In the background is a small drawing of Alice, the Hatter and the March Hare. The stamps were printed by the House of Questa.
11 September 1992 – Opening of the Disney Resort in Paris
A set of six stamps each with the value of one dollar, was issued to commemorate this event. One stamp in the set shows a montage of Disney characters from Alice in Wonderland with the inscription ‘ Alice au Pays des Merveilles’. There was also a miniature sheet containing the complete set of six stamps.
1993 – ‘Thru the Mirror’, Mickey Mouse cartoon
Nine stamps were issued in this year in the form of a se-tenant miniature sheet, each with the value of 60 cents. Two souvenir sheets were also produced each with just one of these stamps. All the stamps feature scenes from the 1936 Mickey Mouse cartoon Thru the Mirror based on Through the Looking-Glass.
A set of three stamps and a miniature sheet was issued with the information that the designs were taken from the ‘Original 1950 Christmas Card of the Walt Disney Company’. The designs are as follows: 30 Leones, several Disney characters, including Alice, grouped around a book of Alice in Wonderland; 100 Leones, snow scene with several Disney characters, including Tweedledum and Tweedledee; 500 Leones, many Disney characters, including Alice. The miniature sheet has a value of 900 Leones and depicts the Mad Tea Party.
27 December 1990 – Christmas Alphabet
A set of miniature sheets was issued to celebrate ‘International Literacy Year’. There was one sheet for each letter of the alphabet. The sheet for the letter ’A’ with a 2/- value shows Alice. The sheet for the letter ’Q’ with a value of 150/- shows the King and Queen of Hearts.
TRISTAN DA CUNHA
1969 – All Saints Day
The 1/6d value indicates the place called ‘Down where the Minister land his things.’ This relates to the arrival on the island of the Reverend Edwin Dodgson, Lewis Carroll’s brother, in 1881. He spent some fifteen years there as the island chaplain.
23 March 1981 – 100th Anniversary of the arrival of the Reverend Edwin Dodgson
A set of three stamps was issued to commemorate the centenary of the arrival of Edwin Dodgson on the island in 1881. The 10 pence value shows Edwin as a young man in his study at Oxford. The 20p value has a portrait of him with the island of Tristan da Cunha in the background. The 30p value shows him in his cassock speaking to a group of islanders.
The three stamps were also issued as a miniature sheet with a background taken from a photograph of Croft rectory with all the Dodgson family posed in front of the house.
‘Cinderella’ is a term used to define items that look like postage stamps, but were not issued by any National Postal Authority for the purposes of postage.
BARBE, (Etat Souverain de l’Ile Barbe)
L’Ile Barbe (Beard Island) is in the River Saone in southern France and the issues of stamps for this island, from 1976 to 1980, were the brainchild of the late Monsieur August Bourdi of Lyon, one time president of the French Cinderella Stamp club. The currency of the island is in ‘poils’, which is the French for facial hair. In 1980 some stamps with a Lewis Carroll theme were produced.
21 June 1980 – Commemorating various events
A set of four stamps was issued, each design bearing a copy of one of Gerald King’s Wonderland fantasies (see later in this list), together with other subjects. Details of the individual stamps are: ¼ poil. Blue and dark brown. Celebrates ‘Europa 80’ and bears a portrait of Charlemagne; ½ poil, pink and blue, celebrates the Moscow Olympics and shows the logo of those games; ¾ Poil, green and brown, air mail stamp with a drawing of an aeroplane; 1 poil, yellow and blue, ‘express mail’ with a drawing of a train.
10 July 1980 – Barbarex 80
The above four stamps were reissued in July bearing the overprint ‘BARBAREX 80’ in green, to celebrate the philatelic exhibition said to have taken place on the island.
As well as the four overprinted stamps, a miniature sheet was also issued for ‘Barbarex 80’ with the value of 1 poil. The design of the sheet includes a copy of Gerald King’s Wonderland Olympic fantasy stamp, which shows Alice with her flamingo. The sheet also includes a picture of a white rabbit leaning against a basket of balls.
FRODSHAM AND HALTON LOCAL POST (1986)
These two towns in Cheshire combined to form a local post during the 1980s. In 1986 they issued a set of four stamps with a Lewis Carroll theme. Printed in black on different coloured papers, the designs are: 10 pence, King and Queen of Hearts on red paper; 50p, Hatter and March Hare on yellow paper (this value also bears the initials LCS and it is possible that the Daresbury Lewis Carroll Society had something to do with these stamps); 80p, portrait of Lewis Carroll on green paper; £1, portrait of local girl Emma Horrocks as Alice on blue paper. The £1 design was also printed onto white envelopes to form a kind of postal stationery.
HOUSE OF QUESTA SOUVENIR SHEET (October 1998)
As a free gift, included in the British Post Office Philatelic Bulletin, Volume 36, No 2., was a miniature sheet of four labels, printed by the stamp printers House of Questa. It had no postal validity and was issued as an advertising souvenir for collectors. One of these labels is inscribed ‘ Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ and depicts a bottle with a tag reading ‘Drink Me’ attached. This label was designed by Barbara Baran.
15 September 1976
A set of four carriage labels was issued by the owners of this small island in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada, to cover the cost of transporting mail from the island to the mainland. Each stamp was valued 25cents and there were six stamps of each design in a sheet, making a total of 24 stamps in each sheet. The idea of Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland Stamp Case has been adapted for the design of these stamps. Alice appears on one stamp holding the Duchess’s baby, which in the next stamp has changed into the pig. The Cheshire Cat in the third stamp sits on his branch a complete cat, but has almost disappeared in the fourth stamp. These items were printed in light blue and the drawings are straight from Tenniel.
The Kaulbach Island newsletter No. 3 dated 1976 explains that these stamps were issued to remember the publication of Wonderland. The newsletter also gives a full description of the Wonderland Stamp Case.
1 September 1977 – Visit of Travel Agents to Kaulbach Island
A group of travel agents visited the island in 1977 and to celebrate the occasion, the four stamps described above, were overprinted in red. Half the sheet was overprinted with the words ‘Travel Agents Visit 1977’ and the other half with ‘Visit Nova Scotia’.
Gerald King has created a whole host of Lewis Carroll fantasy stamps. They are far too numerous to list in detail but they fall generally into the three series described below. It should be mentioned that, according to Gerald King, Wonderland, Looking Glass Land and Snark Island are all part of the British Empire.
These were brought out in 1978, and consisted of some 130 different items inscribed ‘Wonderland’. The designs included copies of early Queen Victoria heads, items with Alice’s head and a third group with drawings from Tenniel. Two publications are associated with this series, the first entitled Alice Through the Pillar Box gives details of the above fantasies and also of a whole series of imaginative covers sent to and from Wonderland. The second book is a slim catalogue of these stamps entitled Curiouser and Curiouser, the Postage Stamps of Wonderland 1940-71.
In 1983 Gerald produced a series of about 120 fantasy stamps for Snark Island. Approximately half of these items carried a Queen Victoria head, with the remaining designs taken from the original Henry Holiday illustrations. A catalogue was produced of these creations entitled Snark Island Postage Stamps, Post Cards, etc. 1876-1901.
In June 2000, some 140 additional Wonderland fantasies were produced with a few new Alice heads but the majority adapting Tenniel illustrations. The associated catalogue for these items is entitled Alice the Millennium Priced Catalogue for the Postage Stamps of Wonderland and Looking Glass Land.
LLECHWEDD SLATE CAVERNS
11 July 1979 – First Alice issue
A stamp with a value of 5 pence was designed by Ivor Wynne Jones for this North Wales organisation. The design, after Tenniel, shows Alice watching the White Rabbit disappearing into a black mine shaft. There are two versions of this stamp, one in English and one in Welsh. There are ten stamps in each language on each sheet, making a total of twenty stamps per sheet. Alice and the White Rabbit are drawn in black and the inscriptions are in purple. A date in the sheet margins reads 18 July 1979, which was the intended date of issue.
The stamps were first announced in a four page newsletter entitled Llechwedd Slate Caverns … Philatelic News, No. 2.
22 August 1979
The same sheet as described above was reissued a month later but with the inscriptions in blue. The date on the margins however remains as 18 July 1979.
25 May 1982 – 150th Anniversary of the birth of Lewis Carroll
A second design by Ivor Wynne Jones, again after Tenniel, shows the scene in the train with the ticket collector looking at Alice through the window with binoculars. The sheets are in the same format as the above issues, twenty to a sheet, half in English and half in Welsh. The drawings are in black and the inscriptions are in purple.
1990 – Lewis Carroll – Phillustrated
In 1990 Roger Allen produced a stapled booklet entitled Lewis Carroll – Phillustrated. This was produced as a free gift for those attending the meeting of the Lewis Carroll Society held at Birkbeck College on the 18 May 1990. The meeting was called the ‘Wonderland Stamp Symposium’ and the booklet is a discursive essay featuring postage stamps of the world that could tell the story of the Alice books.
1995 – Little Nemo in Slumberland
Little Nemo in Slumberland was a comic strip imitation of Wonderland in which the hero, well-known in the U.S.A., falls asleep and has a Wonderland-like dream. The U.S. postal service produced a 32 cent stamp showing Little Nemo having fallen out of bed, on a miniature sheet of 30 stamps on the theme Comic Strip Classics.
2000 – Jacques Riboulet, exhibition and postcards
The French artists and philatelist, Jacques Riboulet, compiled an exhibition for The Stamp Show 2000, around Lewis Carroll and philately, incorporating a mixture of postage stamps, original drawings and a variety of other images. Four postcards were produced, each with an imitation stamp design printed in the top right corner.
Se-tenant : A term used for stamps with different designs, but that appear next to each other on the same sheet.
Miniature Sheet : A term used for a sheet on which all stamps in a set are printed.
Mini Sheet : A term normally used when only one stamp from a set is printed on a small sheet surrounded by a relevant design.
This page is based on material compiled by Roger Allen, Selwyn Goodacre and Mark Richards. Additional material has been supplied by Alan White and Brian Partridge.