Wooden You Like These for Your Collection?
Richard Byrne doesn’t collect stamps, but his wood carvings of stamps will last for centuries. Byrne, who retired as a letter carrier after 31 years with the USPS, used to carve signs, but gave that up when people called the week before Christmas and wanted the signs immediately.

After some experimentation, he decided on a hardwood called Jelutong which grows in Malaysia, Borneo and Sumatra. The wood is lightweight, grainless and has a close uniform texture. The only time he uses a machine to work on this project is to make a 1-foot square plank 3 inches thick. After that it is all hand work.

His first carved stamp in 1985 was the 1969 6¢ Register and Vote stamp. This was donated to the postal training academy in Illinois. His next carving job didn’t start until six years later. Byrne spends five or six hours a day, six days a week on his carvings. Each stamp carving takes 400 to 450 hours.

Byrne doesn’t sell any of his current works since modern stamp designs are covered by copyright, so he just gives his carvings away to institutions. He is currently working on the six values of the 1901 Pan American set with the hope that the National Postal Museum will accept them for display.

We hope they will accept them also so that all visitors from around the world can see this unusual display of stamp art. Click on the links below to see larger illustrations ... and, clock on the note with Scott 298 to see the development of a carving.

Scott 294
Scott 295
Scott 297
Scott 296
Scott 299

Scott 298

Watch this carving develop in "stages"

Each of the carvings have the following specifications:

Jelutong (Dyera cstulata), 11 3/8" (289 mm) high x 15 1/8" (384 mm) wide x 2 3/4" (70 mm) deep; carved and finished with tung oil, polyurethane, and whitewash; center panel of American Holly (Ilex opaca) 5/16" (8 mm) thick; vignette pyrpgraphed and sealed with water-based polyurethane.