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Dear Collector;

Thank you very much for your interest in my career. I've written this letter in an attempt to answer the most frequently asked questions.

In early 1972 the Apollo 16 crew of John Young, Charlie Duke and Ken Mattingly were preparing to go to the moon. (Mattingly had been Apollo 13 Command Module Pilot until he was exposed to measles by Charlie Duke, the Apollo 13 Backup Lunar Module Pilot, and had to be replaced for that flight.) I was on a friendly basis with these men and had prepared some art relating to their mission. They very kindly commented on how much they enjoyed my work, and the suggestion was made that some of my space art might be carried on their upcoming flight to the moon. Since carrying anything of this nature required approval from the highest NASA officials, Colonel Duke undertook to obtain such approval. In due time authorization came back to carry my paintings not just into lunar orbit, but to actually land them on the moon's surface!!

Specially selected paper stock and paints were used to avoid the problem of chemical "outgassing" in the sealed environment of the spacecraft. For ease of handling and documentation, as well as size considerations, my art was done as miniature paintings in ink and watercolor.

On 20 April 1972 the Lunar Module Orion landed at Descartes Crater with a number of my original paintings depicting space exploration events as part of its approved cargo. These pieces were the first (and still only) works of art to be landed on another heavenly body and subsequently returned to earth, the first original paintings flown on any manned space mission and the first original paintings flown in earth orbit.

The logo which typically follows my signature on letters and space related items was suggested to me by the late Colonel Jim Irwin, Lunar Module Pilot of Apollo 15, and refined by Chris Browne, the artist who draws Hagar. It consists of a crescent moon containing the numeral "16," with an artist's easel standing on it a rebus for Lunar Artist-Apollo 16. At times, when I have a short waiting line at shows, I add a tiny Apollo Command Module to the last leg of the "W," using that leg to represent the rocket exhaust.

[click to enlarge]
IN 1989 the Federated States of Micronesia Postal Administration approached me with an inquiry about reproducing my moon-landed art on their stamps honoring the 20'' anniversary of Apollo 11, the first manned landing on the moon. They purchased the first rights to reproduce one piece of moon-flown art on their first Priority Mail stamp (Scott #82, shown at left). Of course, the FSM government made the decision as to the text on the stamp; my choice would have been "First Painting on the Moon", but they opted for something shorter. They also commissioned me to design a sheet of 9 stamps on the history of space exploration (Scott #81 a-i), which was released on the same day - 20 July 1989.

While my first postage stamp designing experiences were in conjunction with Haiti's HAIPEX issue of 1972, it was not until 1985 that I began designing on a full-time basis. I've since designed several thousand stamps of some 25 countries, as well as countless official cachets, special panels and pictorial cancels. Late in 1997 my regular feature articles began appearing in Combat Aircraft magazine and I now have two books in the works.

Some other stamps by William R. 'Doc' Hanson, stamp designer:

Turks & Caicos
Marshall Islands