Spectacles on Stamps

Pope Pio XII, Vatican
Pope Pio XII, Vatican
Alfred Fried, Austria
Alfred Fried, Austria
Eduard Morike, Germany
Eduard Morike, Germany
Francois Rabelais, Monaco
Francois Rabelais, Monaco
Mahatma Gandhi, on a Russian stamp
Mahatma Gandhi, on a Russian stamp

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Have you ever looked closely at a postage stamp? Each one has a unique subject or a theme that tells a story. Just about every country has published stamps and many people around the world have collected them at one time or another. Stamps typically honor famous people or important events. They sometimes focus on culture, geography, or a country’s past history. Stamp collecting has been and continues to be a very popular and fascinating hobby and it deserves our attention and recognition. Stamp collectors, also known as “Philatelists”, number in the millions worldwide. This particular webpage is devoted to them and its contents have been provided by a person who began collecting over 50 years ago.

Included in the general population of stamp collectors is a subgroup of individuals who may be fascinated by a particular subject. They collect stamps based on that specific “topic”. Our webpage has been developed with the helpful assistance of one of those collectors. She was a pioneer, certainly one of the very first people ever to specialize in this little esoteric field. Jane Lippert Hushea is a retiree living in Florida and whose collection will now be featured. We are all fortunate that she is genuinely sharing in this manner and hopefully we will all become a bit wiser by this experience.

The study of spectacle-wearers on stamps is interesting. Relatively few appeared on the early issues but eyeglasses have now become much more prominent in recent years. Glasses are a commonplace part of our daily living yet they are still seemingly taken for granted. Not surprisingly they are worn by a great many famous and important people. This is what we can now focus on. Assembled here are stamps from all around the world and every single one is an educational form of artwork. Each depicts a style of eyeglasses which were worn by the individual who is being characterized.

What follows below represents Jane’s intense passion for this hobby because she searched almost exclusively for stamps with eyeglasses. She did this over a period of several decades, beginning in the early 1950’s. During that time period she amassed over 1000 different examples from nearly every country of the world. She would typically place a little advertisement or announcement in a stamp collector’s newspaper or magazine expressing an interest to have stamps with eyeglasses sent to her. And they were, from everywhere. She may have been the only person who had friends from around the world who were forwarding her a variety of unusual stamps….all of which showed eyeglasses.

Fun and Education are the two main ingredients of collecting stamps by topic. Jane was a member of the American Topical Association (ATA) which is based in Arlington, Texas and she also received their bi-monthly Topical Time. In addition she received issues of Linn’s Stamp News, the world’s largest weekly stamp news and marketplace. Just last October 2005 an article appeared which featured her collection and included several images of the pages from her stamp albums.

The oldest eyeglasses depicted on a postage stamp may be a German issue depicting Nikolaus Cusanus (1401-1464 – Priest, scientist, and philosopher) who appears to be wearing spectacles. An even better candidate for this coveted spot may be the remarkable portrait of a be-spectacled Francois Rabelais (1494-1553 – major French Renaissance writer) on a Monaco stamp. Many 19th and early 20th century personalities wear their eyeglasses on stamps. With very rare exception each pair of eyeglasses can be dated by the life span of the person wearing them. By organizing a collection in the manner that Jane has, one begins to see the evolutionary changes that have taken place in the style and type employed during various time periods.

Mrs. Hushea married an optician who was the owner of an eyewear company in Canton, Ohio. She had a natural talent and began to create window displays and advertising promotions for the business. She eventually pioneered new exciting techniques for the merchandising of eyewear. She created something of a revolution in the display thinking of national advertisers in this field, and also their appreciation of it. Her displays conveyed the timeless message that an eye-catching window can promote and enhance product awareness. Between 1955 and 1959 she won seven major international medals for display advertising. In the year 2000 the Executive Director of the National Association of Display Windows described her “creativity and pure artistic thought”. He stated that these qualities helped propel her to become an inspiration for many design students during the second half of the 20th century.

This particular webpage has the potential to enrich your knowledge and also deepen your appreciation of the history and culture of many countries. You might even be motivated to do further research upon learning of an individual or a topic about which you wish to increase your own basic understanding and fund of knowledge. As Mrs. Jane Lippert Hushea would say “this has been a fun hobby and these little stamps are great educational tools. The telling of optical history thru postage stamps makes a highly technical and specialized industry more readable, interesting, and enjoyable for everyone.”

,It would be nearly impossible to display all of the stamps in the collection but below is a good selection showing mostly antique eyeglasses which are organized by continents and also regions. Some of the stamps chosen reveal modern eyeglasses instead; however in these cases the content of the stamp seems quite interesting. You are invited to pause while you view each stamp. Jane and I hope you enjoy them all.

Jane Hushea's collection will be on display at the Spellman Museum Stamps and Postal History in Weston, MA.

Finally, we are excited to announce that Jane became recognized by Guinness World Records in April 2007 because of her significant collection, which has never been equaled in size or depth. Hopefully her name will appear in their book of World Records.

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