Disney stamps are a natural for the Olympics as they can focus both on the international flavour and competitive enjoyment of the games. Thematic stamp collecting is one of the most fun type of collections that you can have. And Disney stamps are really cool, even more if you have kids.
Los Angeles 1984
The first stamps featuring Disney characters to commemorate the Olympic Games were issued for the Los Angeles Games in 1984. The designs for the stamps of Anguilla, Grenada, Turks & Caicos Islands were commissioned expressly for this issue and drawn by Disney artists. The stamps were issued in two slightly different formats for each country.
Besides being issued in sets of 9 stamps and a souvenir sheet, the stamps were also released in sheetlet form of five of the same stamp plus a tab. The sets were inscribed ‘1984 Los Angeles’ and the sheetlets were bore the words ‘1984 Olympics Los Angeles’ with the Olympic rings between the words ‘Olympics’ and ‘Los’. The set was also perforated 14 and the sheetlet stamps were perforated 12½ x 14.
In addition to these sets, a single stamp depicting the Olympic mascot, Sam the Eagle, was issued by Benin. Veteran Disney artist Bob Moore, who also worked on the 1968 United States Disney commemorative stamp, designed Sam the Eagle and the Disney Company assigned all rights to the Olympic Committee to benefit the games. Guinea also issued an extensive Los Angeles Olympics set featuring Sam the Eagle.
The XV Winter Olympic Games were held in Calgary, Alberta. Bhutan issued a set of 9 stamps and two souvenir sheets many of which featured Goofy, a natural choice as he starred in a number of sports related shorts including The Art of Skiing (1941) and The Olympic Champ (1942). He was also the official mascot of the French Olympic team in 1980 and entertained the world’s athletes in Disneyland in 1984. Jamaica’s bobsled team, featured in the Disney live action film Cool Runnings, is featured on a set of stamps issued by that country.
The Republic of Korea hosted the XXIV Olympiad in the capital city of Seoul. The event was commemorated by Grenada (see stamp 3) and Grenada Grenadines. The stamps were released in two parts to the philatelic market. The Grenada set of 8 stamps and 2 souvenir sheets focused on the opening and closing ceremonies while the Grenadines set depicted ancient and modern Olympic sports.
The venue of the XVI Winter Games was Albertville, France. For the first time since the Disney stamps began in 1979 someone other than the Disney artists in Burbank designed the stamps. As the events took place in France it was though appropriate that Disney artists in the Paris studio create the designs. The original designs for the Guyana set of 8 stamps and 2 souvenir sheets were bilingual but by the time the artwork reached the printers the French had been omitted.
The Kingdom of Spain hosted the XXV Olympic Games in the Mediterranean coast city of Barcelona. Antigua and Barbuda was the only postal administration to salute the games with a Disney set of 8 stamps and 4 souvenir sheets. This was the year of the first U.S. Basketball ‘Dream Team’ and the overwhelming superiority of the team is humourously depicted on one of the souvenir sheets.
The XVII Winter Games were held in Lillehammer, Norway. The Gambia issued a set of 9 and 2 souvenir sheets for the event. The stamps were designed by the Alvin White Studio in Burbank under the direction and supervision of the Disney Company. It is interesting to note that the games logo does not appear on the stamps themselves, but on the First Day Cover only. This is the last set of Olympic stamps issued with Disney characters.