The U.S. Postal Service celebrates writer, philosopher, and naturalist Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862) on the bicentennial year of his birth.
The forever stamp will be formally celebrated May 23 in an 11 a.m. ceremony at the locale to which Thoreau is most connected, tranquil and picturesque Walden Pond State Reservation (at the Visitors Center) in Concord, Massachusetts.
Thoreau’s personal example of simple living, his criticism of materialism, and the timeless questions he raises about the place of the individual in society and humanity’s role in the natural world, he continues to inspire new generations to assert their independence, reinterpret his legacy, and ask challenging questions of their own.
The stamp features and oil-on-panel painting by contemporary artist Sam Weber of Brooklyn, New York. The painting is based on a famous 1856 daguerreotype by Benjamin Maxham. On the right side of the stamp is Thoreau’s signature of his last name. Below the signature is a branch of sumac leaves. Art director Greg Breeding, of Charlottesville, Virginia, designed the stamp. Weber also was the artist for the 2015 Flannery O’Connor 3-ounce stamp.
This is the second U.S. commemorative for Thoreau. A stamp for the 150th anniversary of his birth issued in 1967 features a drawing by sculptor and illustrator Leonard Baskin.
The first-day ceremony is free and open to the public.
Those expected to be on hand include Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Leo Roy, U.S. Postal Service General Counsel and Executive Vice President Thomas J. Marshall, Select Board Town of Concord Chair Michael Lawson, and Walden Woods Project Board Member, environmentalist and actor Ed Begley Jr., who has acted in scores of television shows (St. Elsewhere, Living With Ed, Better Call Saul) and movies (This is Spinal Tap, Pineapple Express).
Walden Pond, known as a kettle hole in geological terms, was formed by glaciers about 11,000 years ago. Thoreau lived on the northern shore of the pond for two years starting in the summer of 1845. His account of the experience was recorded in Walden (or Life in the Woods), and made the pond famous. The land at that end was owned by Thoreau’s friend and mentor, Ralph Waldo Emerson.