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Added : January 18, 2011

Last Updated: May 20, 2012

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TOPIC / Graphic Design

Wyman's postage stamp to honor MLK & '68 Olympics

Wyman's postage stamp to honor MLK & '68 Olympics

There’s one postcard in my collection that has an interesting connection between the front and the back. I like the symbolism of the birds on yellow, with the stamp incorporating a dove to honor the passing of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the other side.

American graphic designer Lance Wyman designed the logotype and wayfinding graphics for the 1968 Olympic Games held in Mexico City. Following the untimely death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4th, 1968, Lance Wyman was called on to portray the image of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the first commemorative postage stamp issued by Mexico. Other sources indicate that Ras A Khaima (United Arab Emirates) was the first in the world to issue a postage stamp to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. postage stamp from Mexico, 1968

“A sad note back home during this period was the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I had the honor of designing the first commemorative stamp in the world issued by Mexico.”
Lance Wyman

Martin Luther King Jr. memorial stamp, Aereo Mexico, design by Lance Wyman
It struck me as a little unusual that the USPS did not issue the first stamp, meanwhile numerous international countries issued their own designs. In early 1979, the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Stamp was issued in the United States. With the exception of presidents, there is a ten year rule that restricts memorial stamps from being made. So, while the rest of the world rushed to honor MLK in postage stamp form, the U.S. held to their postal regulations for stamp designs, which in turn caused a delay in the production of the U.S. commemorative stamp.

(view images larger via flickr)

The Gallery at Norwich University College of the Arts (NUCA) held the exhibition “You Are Here: Works by the legendary American graphic designer Lance Wyman” from May 1st through June 9th, 2012. I'm disappointed I didn’t see the exhibit, but hope it will eventually travel to many cities. The BBC has a slideshow highlighting designs from the show, with a focus on Lance Wyman’s Mexico 1968 Olympic designs.

 
   

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