Original plate of eight faux postage stamps printed to advertise "The Unique Thelonious Monk" for Riverside Records

New York: Riverside Records, 1956. Plate of eight stamps created to promote the release of "The Unique Thelonious Monk," the second album in Thelonious Monk's legendary tenure with Riverside Records.

The design for the initial release (Riverside 12-209, 1956) was decidedly bland, and the label decided to reissue the album in 1957 with a revised design. The new cover idea was conceived by Riverside's Harris Lewine and Paul Bacon using a photograph taken by Lawrence Shustak, designed and hand-lettered by Ken Braren, and executed in a "lined" philatelic version by Weber Processing in Philadelphia. The stamp design cleverly utilized "3," "3," and "1/3" as its "value," with the Riverside Upon seeing the finished product, Lewine had the idea of producing plates of actual stamps to promote the record, complete with adhesive backing and standard stamp perforation.

Lewine notes that the promotional effort was more than a little stifled when letters began turning up in mailboxes with the promotional stamps being used as actual postage (complete with cancels from the post office). Riverside was contacted by the FBI and advised to cease and desist or face legal action, at which point nearly all the stamps were destroyed.

Monk's first album for Riverside was a well-received collection of standards composed by Duke Ellington. This second effort was a collection of standards by a variety of composers, but made an important shift by utilizing a new rhythm section consisting of Art Blakey and Oscar Pettiford, who would go on to become key players in Monk's various efforts with Riverside and beyond.

Near Fine on philatelic paper stock circa 1956 as issued.

[Book #155209]