A 20-cent commemorative stamp honoring American author Herman Melville was issued August 1, 1984, in New Bedford, Massachusetts, the setting for his novel Moby Dick. The First Day of Issue ceremony was held at the Whaling Museum there.
The stamp was an addition to the Literary Arts Series. It was designed by Bradbury Thompson of Riverside, Connecticut, and modeled by Frank J. Waslick.
Herman Melville was born in New York City, the son of a prosperous importer of French luxury merchandise. His father died in 1832, and Melville withdrew from school to work as a bank clerk, farm helper, teacher, and assistant in his brother's fur store before going to sea in 1839. He returned home in 1844 and was urged by family and friends to put the tales they found so entertaining into a book. His experiences aboard trading, whaling, and US Navy vessels provided the basis for works such as Typee, Redburn, White Jacket, Omoo, Billy Budd, and Moby Dick. He also wrote short stories, essays, and poetry. Although he was virtually unknown when he died in 1891, Melville is now regarded as one of America's greatest authors.
The Melville stamp design is based upon the portrait by J. O. Easton owned by the Fogg Art Museum of Harvard University. The stamp was printed in the intaglio process, with fifty stamps per pane.
Postal Bulletin (June 28, 1984).