Six Original Sketches by FDR for Stamp Designs

Franklin D. Roosevelt and James A. Farley enthusiastically brainstormed over stamp designs, colors, and themes. Roosevelt actually sketched numerous ideas for stamp designs. Farley presented the stamp-collecting president with die proofs, including those for the stamps FDR had sketched. Never again did a president and postmaster general share such a close partnership in postal designs.

      Byrd stamp sketch 3c Byrd Antarctic Expedition Sketch by FDR, 1933

    To help support Richard Byrd’s second expedition to Antarctica, President Roosevelt approved a stamp as partial payment for mail to the special post office in Little America. After rejecting four designs, FDR sketched a map with routes of Byrd’s expeditions. On exhibit from June 9 through December 2, 2009.

      Mothers of America stamp sketch 3c Mothers of America Sketch by FDR, 1934

    Although originally intended to honor artist James Abbott McNeill Whistler, at FDR’s direction the stamp as issued honored mothers on Mother’s Day mail. The designer altered the painting Whistler’s Mother by removing the background and the woman’s feet and adding a vase of flowers. On exhibit from December 3, 2009 through June 6, 2010.

      Susan B. Anthony stamp sketch 3c Susan B. Anthony Sketch by FDR, 1936

    When FDR saw the model for the Susan B. Anthony stamp, he sketched a revision and added a dark oval frame around the portrait of the women’s rights activist. Because the stamp was issued in an election year and honored the sixteenth anniversary of women’s right to vote, critics claimed it was politically motivated. On exhibit from June 9 through December 2, 2009.

      Virginia Dare stamp sketch 5c Virginia Dare Sketch by FDR, 1937

    Roosevelt’s design for the stamp commemorating the colony of Roanoke’s 350th anniversary featured an image of the first English child born in America. He requested the square stamp be 5c and in the color baby blue. On exhibit from December 3, 2009 through June 6, 2010.

      Eagle stamp sketch 6c Eagle Airmail Sketch by FDR, 1938

    The red and blue bicolor stamp featuring the American eagle was based on a design FDR sketched to help distinguish airmail letters from regular mail. The first day of issue coincided with National Air Mail Week, a nationwide campaign to promote the use of airmail. On exhibit from December 3, 2009 through June 6, 2010.

      50th Anniversary of Statehood stamp sketch 3c 50th Anniversary of Statehood Sketch by FDR, 1939

    North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Washington each wanted a commemorative stamp for its fiftieth anniversary. FDR instead drew a single stamp that incorporated all four states on a map. Each state released the stamp at its capital city on the anniversary of its admission to the Union. On exhibit from June 9 through December 2, 2009.