QUARTERLY PUBLICATION OF THE GRAPHICS PHILATELY ASSOCIATION ISSN 9739-6198 Volume 28, Number 2 ● Whole Number 111 ● April 2006
Children’s Books and Stamps: Studies in Design
Charles “Chuck” Lewis Ripper
Charles Ripper, or “Chuck,” as he is often cited in the professional literature, acclaimed as one of the leading nature and wildlife art- ists in the country, was born on 28 October 1929 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He reflects his life’s passion, devoted to conservation and painting, by inscribing many of his books with the words: “That path of nature declared most interesting, is but the path most patiently ob- served.”1 Elsewhere he notes that, “if any of my books or drawings . . . open the eyes of just one more person to the world of nature, my efforts have not been wasted.”2
Designs on postage stamps provide an inter- esting way for Ripper to communicate his love of nature to a wider audience. He believes that “stamps are something that everyone sees, though they don’t think of them as paintings or know who created them.”3 He notes that the United States Postal Service has a policy for its postage stamps, that the artwork can’t be more than five times the size of the stamp. “They found over the years if you make the painting too large and then reduce it down to
postage size, it melts together like yesterday’s spaghetti.”4
Chuck Ripper’s dual interest in art and na- ture began as a child. He began taking classes at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh on Saturdays, which continued throughout his high school years. After graduation he enrolled in the In- stitute’s two-year commercial art program. Before Ripper graduated from the Art Institute, one of his drawings was published in Nature Magazine, which led to his first commission. During his last week of school, he received a letter from an editor at William Morrow in New York saying he had a manuscript for a chil- dren’s book and asked Ripper to send some samples of his artwork. Addison Webb, the au- thor of the children’s book, Song of the Sea- sons, had seen his drawing in Nature Maga- zine. Ripper received the commission and did the 61 drawings for the book from June to Oc- tober; he had illustrated his first children’s book before his 20th birthday.
After completing a commission to do a pen- and-ink drawing for an annual report at Pitts-
Title-page from Chuck Rip- per’s Moles and Shrews, a children’s book published in 1957 by Morrow.
Chuck Ripper as pictured in The Postal Service Guide to U. S. Stamps, 28th Edition (2001), page 289.
Illustration in Bats (page 9), written and illustrated by Chuck Ripper and published in 1954 by Morrow.