[ The Charles Dickens Testimonial. ] One penny royalty stamp for Dickens's descendants, with copy of article from the Strand Magazine explaining the scheme, titled 'The Charles Dickens Testimonial. Look Out for the Dickens Stamp!'

The Charles Dickens Testimonial, penny royalty stamp [ The Strand Magazine, London; royalties; copyright ]
Publication details: 
[ The stamp issued in 1912 by The Charles Dickens Testimonial, 17-21 Tavistock Street, London WC. ] The article published by the Strand Magazine, London. 1910 or 1911.
SKU: 16755

On 7 January 1911 Beckles Willson, Honorary Secretary of the Charles Dickens Testimonial, explained the scheme to the readers of the Spectator. Three members of Dickens's family were, Willson explained, 'drawing a niggardly pension of £25 per annum from the British Government', and that 'no volume recently published of Dickens has returned any copyright fee, save those which bear the Dickens copyright stamp'. The stamp was 'on sale for one penny each-in sheets of twelve-at every bookseller's in the land, and at all Messrs. W. H. Smith's and Wyman's news-stalls. His Majesty the King, her Majesty the Queen, her Majesty Queen Alexandra, and other members of the Royal Family, ever ready to be the exemplars in every good and just cause, have led the way by placing the copyright stamps in their volumes of Dickens. Their example has been followed by many of the leading statesmen, lawyers, authors, actors, editors, and divines of the day. If every owner of Dickens will not shirk his penny, a magnificent centenary tribute will be assured. For there are forty-eight million copies of Dickens extant.' The publishers Macmillan, Willson continued, had agreed 'to insert a Dickens stamp gratis in every volume of every edition of Dickens issued by them during the hundredth year of the novelist. The significance of this must not be overlooked. It means that, for the first time in literary history the representatives of a great writer will he in receipt of a copyright fee not conferred by the action of the copyright laws ; small, it is true, but to which they are entitled as truly as the heirs of any landlord are entitled to receive tribute in the shape of rent.' The stamp offered here is printed in black ink on a piece of paper approximately 5 x 4 cm, with perforated edges and gummed reverse. In very good condition. Priced at a penny, with an oval portrait of Dickens within a border in the form of a carved wooden frame, with 'A TRIBUTE TO GENIUS' and the dates 1812 and 1912 at the head, the words 'CENTENARY TESTIMONIAL' around the portrait, and a facsimile of Dickens's signature at the foot. The four-page article (paginated 608-611) is on three leaves extracted from the Strand Magazine. Stapled together and in good condition. Includes full-page 'Unpublished Photograph of Dickens', taken by Thrupp of Birmingham in 1869. The article features a reproduction of the stamp, and a list of the scheme's committee, headed by the Earl of Rosebery, and including Theodore Roosevelt, Hilaire Belloc, G. K. Chesterton, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling and more than fifty others. 'The actual design for the stamp has been evolved by a sub-committee, comprising Lord Alverstone and Messrs. Brition Riviere, R.A., H. Rider Haggard, Clement K. Shorter, and Sir Adolph Tuck, Bart.'