Pinnochio

Germany - B885 (3001)
Germany – B885 (3001)

Today is the first “random stamp day” of the New Year. In fact, it’s the first such entry since the end of November 2018. This is a day on which I cannot match a single anniversary (event, birthday, etc.) with a stamp in my collection. For example, on this date in 1776, Thomas Paine published Common Sense which advocated independence from Great Britain to people in the Thirteen Colonies. I don’t yet have a stamp portraying either the author or his famous pamphlet, which had the largest sale and circulation of any book published in American history and remains the all-time best selling American title. It is still in print today. Nor do I have a stamp I could use for an article about the Metropolitan Railway — the world’s oldest underground railway — that opened on January 10, 1863 between Paddington and Farringdon. This was the beginning of the London Underground/

On days such as this, I choose a stamp more or less at random. I came upon today’s stamp while searching through scans of my collection for one commemorating German painter Johannes Zick, born on this date in 1702. Actually, the first stamp in this series that I paused at while pondering its possible inclusion on A Stamp A Day honoring Pippi Longstocking  — the main character in an eponymous series of children’s books by the Swedish author Astrid Lindgren. Let’s say the Pinocchio won by a nose. Or, to use another bad pun, given the well-centered cancellation the stamp is a perfect example of one that’s “socked on the nose“.

Pinocchio by Enrico Mazzanti (1852-1910) - the first illustrator (1883) of Le avventure di Pinocchio. Storia di un burattino - colored by Daniel DONNA
Pinocchio by Enrico Mazzanti (1852-1910) – the first illustrator (1883) of Le avventure di Pinocchio. Storia di un burattino – colored by Daniel DONNA

Pinocchio is a fictional character and the protagonist of the children’s novel The Adventures of Pinocchio (1883) by Italian writer Carlo Collodi. Carved by a woodcarver named Geppetto in a village near Lucca, he was created as a wooden puppet but dreams of becoming a real boy. He is notably characterized for his frequent tendency to lie, which causes his nose to grow. Pinocchio is a cultural icon. As one of the most reimagined characters in children’s literature, his story has been adapted into other media, notably the 1940 Disney film Pinocchio.

Pinocchio’s characterization varies across interpretations, but several aspects are consistent across all adaptations: Pinocchio is a puppet; Pinocchio’s maker is Geppetto; and Pinocchio’s nose grows when he lies.

Pinocchio is known for having a short nose that becomes longer when he is under stress (chapter 3), especially while lying. In the original tale, Collodi describes him as a “rascal,” “imp,” “scapegrace,” “disgrace,” “ragamuffin,” and “confirmed rogue,” with even his father, carpenter Geppetto, referring to him as a “wretched boy.” Upon being born, Pinocchio immediately laughs derisively in his creator’s face, whereupon he steals the old man’s wig.

Pinocchio’s bad behavior, rather than being charming or endearing, is meant to serve as a warning. Collodi originally intended the story, which was first published in 1881, to be a tragedy. It concluded with the puppet’s execution. Pinocchio’s enemies, the Fox and the Cat, bind his arms, pass a noose around his throat, and hang him from the branch of an oak tree.

“…a tempestuous northerly wind began to blow and roar angrily, and it beat the poor puppet from side to side, making him swing violently, like the clatter of a bell ringing for a wedding. And the swinging gave him atrocious spasms…His breath failed him and he could say no more. He shut his eyes, opened his mouth, stretched his legs, gave a long shudder, and hung stiff and insensible.”

Illustrations from
Illustrations from “Le avventure di Pinocchio, storia di un burattino”, Carlo Collodi, Bemporad & figlio, Firenze 1902 (Drawings and engravings by Carlo Chiostri, and A. Bongini)

Pinocchio is a wooden marionette (a puppet that is manipulated with wires) and not a hand puppet (directly controlled from inside by the puppeteer’s hand). But the piece of wood from which he is derived is animated, and so Pinocchio moves independently. Basically good, he often gets carried away by bad company and is prone to lying. His nose will become longer and longer once he starts lying to others. Because of these characteristics he often finds himself in trouble. Pinocchio undergoes transformations during the novel: he promises The Fairy with Turquoise Hair to become a real boy, flees with Candlewick to the Land of Toys, becomes a donkey, joins a circus, and becomes a puppet again. In the last chapter, out of the mouth of The Terrible Dogfish with Geppetto, finally stops being a puppet and becomes a real boy (thanks to the intervention of the Fairy in a dream).

In the novel, Pinocchio is often depicted with a pointy hat, a jacket and a pair of colored, knee-length pants. In the Disney version, the appearance is very different, and the character is dressed in Tyrolean style, with Lederhosen and a hat with a feather.

Pinocchio’s nose is his best-known characteristic. It grows in length when he tells a lie: this appears in chapter 7. Collodi himself, in Note gaie claims how “to hide the truth of a speculum animae (mirror of the soul) face [ … ] is added to the true nose another papier-mache nose”. There is an inconsistency, however, because his nose grows when it is first carved by Geppetto, without Pinocchio ever lying. The nose appears only a couple of times in the story, but it reveals the Blue Fairy’s power over Pinocchio when he acts disobediently. After struggling and weeping over his deformed nose, the Blue Fairy summons woodpeckers to peck it back to normal.

A giant statue of Pinocchio in the park Parco di Pinocchio, Collodi
A giant statue of Pinocchio in the park Parco di Pinocchio, Collodi

Some literary analysts have described Pinocchio as an epic hero. Like many Western literary heroes, such as Odysseus, Pinocchio descends into hell; he also experiences rebirth through metamorphosis, a common motif in fantasy literature.

Before writing Pinocchio, Collodi wrote a number of didactic children’s stories for the recently unified Italy, including a series about an unruly boy who undergoes humiliating experiences while traveling the country, titled Viaggio per l’Italia di Giannettino (“Little Johnny’s voyage through Italy”). Throughout Pinocchio, Collodi chastises Pinocchio for his lack of moral fiber and his persistent rejection of responsibility and desire for fun.

The structure of the story of Pinocchio follows that of the folk-tales of peasants who venture out into the world but are naively unprepared for what they find, and get into ridiculous situations. At the time of the writing of the book, this was a serious problem, arising partly from the industrialization of Italy, which led to a growing need for reliable labor in the cities; the problem was exacerbated by similar, more or less simultaneous, demands for labor in the industrialization of other countries. One major effect was the emigration of much of the Italian peasantry to cities and to foreign countries such as the United States.

The main imperatives demanded of Pinocchio are to work, be good, and study. And in the end Pinocchio’s willingness to provide for his father and devote himself to these things transforms him into a real boy with modern comforts.

Pinocchio dolls in a shop window in Florence. Photo taken by <a href+
Pinocchio dolls in a shop window in Florence. Photo taken by Vladimir Menkov on May 16, 2006.. This photo is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Pinocchio was first translated into English in 1904 by Walter S. Cramp. He first appeared in a cinematic adaptation in Pinocchio (1911), an Italian live-action silent film, directed by Giulio Antamoro. The character is performed by French-Italian comedian Ferdinand Guillaume.

The children’s novel The Golden Key, or the Adventures of Buratino (1936) is a free retelling of the story of Pinocchio by Russian writer Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy. Some of the adventures are derived from Collodi, but many are either omitted or added. Pinocchio (Buratino) does not reform himself nor becomes a real human. For Tolstoy, Pinocchio as a puppet is a positive model of creative and non-conformist behavior.

A 1936 adaptation The Adventures of Pinocchio (Le avventure di Pinocchio) was planned in Italy by Raoul Verdini and Umberto Spano, but it was never entirely completed and is now considered lost. Only the original script and a couple of still frames are all that survived of the film.

Screenshot of Pinocchio from the trailer for the film Pinocchio
Screenshot of Pinocchio from the trailer for the film Pinocchio

When The Walt Disney Company was developing the story for their film version of Pinocchio (1940), they intended to keep the obnoxious aspects of the original character, but Walt Disney himself felt that this made the character too unlikable, so alterations were made to incorporate traits of mischief and innocence to make Pinocchio more likable. Pinocchio was voiced by Dickie Jones. Today, the film is considered one of the finest Disney features ever made, and one of the greatest animated films of all time, with a rare 100% rating on the website Rotten Tomatoes.

In the video game adaptation of the film, Pinocchio lives out (mostly) the same role as the film, traveling through the world filled with temptations and battling various forces. This incarnation later appeared in Who Framed Roger Rabbit voiced by Peter Westy, Disney’s House of Mouse voiced by Michael Welch, and Kingdom Hearts voiced by Seth Adkins. Elijah Wood portrayed the real-boy version of Pinocchio in the live-action segments for the updated Jiminy Cricket educational serials “I’m No Fool” and “You” in addition to the new shorts of “I’m No Fool” in the early 1990s. Pinocchio also makes cameo appearances in Aladdin, Teacher’s Pet, Mickey Mouse and Tangled.

On June 13, 2001, Germany released a set of five semi-postal stamps in its Youth series featuring characters from children’s books (Scott #B885-B889) . Besides the stamps picturing Pinocchio (100 pfennig + 50 pfennig, Scott #B885) and Pippi Longstocking (100 pfennig + 50 pfennig, Scott #B886), there were also stamps portraying Jim Knopf from the German cbildren’s novel Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver (Jim Knopf und Lukas der Lokomotivführer) written by Michael Ende (110 pfennig + 50 pfennig,, Scott #B887), Heidi (110 pfennig + 50 pfennig,, Scott #B888), along with Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn (300 pfennig + 100 pfennig, Scott #B889). The stamps were printed by offset lithography and issued in miniature sheets of 10 stamps each, perforated 13¾. There were 211,400 sheets of the Pinocchio stamp printed, for a total press run of 2,114,000 stamps. The surtax was for the German Youth Stamp Foundation.

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