The Glaser Nobody Knows: Milton Puts His Stamp on San Marino

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The Glaser Nobody Knows is a new column featuring work by Milton Glaser that you may never have seen before. There are countless projects by the master, both produced and unpublished, that are unfamiliar even to design aficionados. All of the items in this column are part of The Milton Glaser Design Study Center and Archives at the School of Visual Arts, the chief repository of his legendary work.

What designer doesn’t want to take a shot at the tiny canvas that is the postage stamp? Milton Glaser initially got his chance in 1993 with his series of United Nations Healthy Environment stamps for the United State Postal Service.

He got a second opportunity just four years ago, in 2016, when tiny San Marino, an independent republic located within Northern Italy, called upon him to design stamps to commemorate National Poetry Day. San Marino has long produced beautiful stamps prized by collectors; the 24-square-mile republic even derives income from their sale, and boasts the world’s only philatelic minister of state.

Glaser’s series of three stamps, which feature stylized and anthropomorphized trees, flowers and birds, represent a full-circle moment. In the 1960s, he frequently drew fanciful flowers casually growing from human heads, from a more subtle floral headdress to a full-on explosion of blooms. The 2016 stamps reverse the idea; now, the human faces represent the unexpected element as they emerge from nature.

Beth Kleber is the founding archivist of the Milton Glaser Design Study Center and Archives and the School of Visual Arts Archives in New York City. Kleber also curated the exhibition Primary Sources: Documenting SVA and the New York Art World 1966–1985.” She lectures on design history and research, and assists students and researchers with inquiries on everything from Push Pin Studios to the activities of the renowned artists who have taught at SVA. Kleber has also worked in trade publishing and began her librarian and archivist career at New York Public Library. For more from the Glaser/SVA Archives, head to Instagram.