6c W. C. Handy stamp


Smithsonian's National Postal Museum

Smithsonian's National Postal Museum

A 6-cent stamp honoring W. C. Handy was placed on sale on May 17, 1969, at Memphis, Tennessee, the city he immortalized with two compositions, "The Memphis Blues" and "The Beale Street Blues." The stamp was issued during the sesquicentennial anniversary celebration of the city.

William Christopher Handy (1873-1958) was a US composer who is attributed with integrating blues into ragtime. Handy worked as a schoolteacher and bandmaster. He conducted his own orchestra even after he lost his eyesight at the age of 30. His autobiography, "Father of the Blues," was published in 1941.

The stamp was designed by Bernice Kochan of Cleveland, Ohio, winner of a nationwide contest sponsored by Memphis Sesquicentennial, Inc. The artist combined purple, light red, and light blue for a jazzy effect. 120 million stamps were initially printed in panes of fifty. The stamp was lithographed and engraved (Giori).

Reference: Postal Bulletin (April 17, 1969).
Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th ed., s.v. " W. C. Handy."

Scott Catalogue USA: 1372
mint; perf 11

Museum ID: 1980.2493.5730

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  • Title: 6c W. C. Handy stamp
  • Date Created: 1969-05-17
  • Subject Keywords: W. C. Handy, stamp
  • Medium: paper; ink (violet, deep lilac, blue); adhesive; tagging / lithography, engraving