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275th Anniversary of the Publication of Robinson Crusoe

Robinson Crusoe Commemorative

Odette Baillais' representation of Robinson Crusoe

On October 17, 1994, in a series of four stamps honouring artists and writers, Monaco issued a commemorative celebrating the 275th anniversary of Daniel Defoe's publication of Robinson Crusoe in 1719. The stamp was designed by Odette Baillais and printed by the Imprimerie des Timbres-Poste et des Valeurs Fiduciaires, the French government printer.

Why would Monaco's postal administration have chosen to honour this English writer and this work of literature? In his biography of Defoe, Richard West notes that Robinson Crusoe is far more than a mere children's book; he explains, "The prophet of the French Revolution, Jean Jacques Rousseau, prescribed Robinson Crusoe for moral education, just as later Karl Marx, the prophet of the Russian Revolution, used the book to explain his theories of labour value" (403). Wikipedia reports, "no book in the history of Western literature had more editions, spin-offs and translations (even into languages such as Inuktitut, Coptic and Maltese) than Robinson Crusoe, with more than 700 such alternative versions, including children's versions with mainly pictures and no text." In addition to print and stage versions, this fictional autobiography has inspired silent films, movies and television series.

The colourful design by Odette Baillais echoes many of engraved images from early editions of the book. The artist, born in 1929, trained in Fine Arts, Baillais has worked in fashion design, journalism, advertising and publishing. She has written histories of fashion and theatre. Her designs have been used by the National Lottery of France, horse racing's American Grand Prix and on SEITA's match box series commemorating lunar exploration. She designed her first stamp in 1971 for BEPTOM (Bureau d’études des postes et des télécommunications) and has since produced stamp designs for France, Andorre, Monaco, Wallis et Futuna and Luxembourg. Her flare for the presentation of exotic locales is also evident in the design for the region of Guyane (French Guiana).

Odette Baillais's design for Guyane

Odette Baillais' flare for the presentation of exotic locales is
also evident in the design for the region of Guyane (French Guiana).


"Monaco." Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue. 2005. Print.

"Odette Baillais." n.d. Web. 20 Sep. 2015.

"Odette Baillais." Site de Référence des Créateurs de Timbres. 10 Jun. 2015. Web. 20 Sep. 2015.

"Robinson Crusoe." Wikipedia. 8 Sep. 2015. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 20 Sep. 2015.

West, Richard. Daniel Defore The Life and Strange Surprising Adventures. New York:
     Carroll and Graf Publishers, 1998. Print.

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