“Farley’s Follies” Uncut and Ungummed Press Sheets
Postmaster General James A. Farley
Postmaster General James Farley frequently bought imperforate, ungummed, printed sheets of stamps right off the press. Both Farley and FDR signed in the margins. Farley presented the first sheet off the press to FDR and frequently saved the second for his own family. Farley often presented other sheets as souvenirs or political favors to friends. He did this twenty times during his tenure. The practice angered the philatelic community and political opponents when exposed. Feeling deprived of access to these unique and invaluable sheets, critics lobbied Congress, demanding justice. To quell the mounting tension, Farley ordered all twenty sheets reprinted in a special printing without gum or perforations and offered for sale to every American who desired the sheets. The reprintings began on March 15, 1935. Stamp collectors refer to the scandal and the reprinted sheets as “Farley’s Follies.”
The public has rarely seen the original full sheets that created the uproar. Fifteen of the twenty original uncut press sheets appear here, donated to the Smithsonian Institution by the late PMG James A. Farley.
3c Mothers of America Original Uncut Press Sheet, 1934
Farley honored mothers of America by issuing a stamp for use on Mother’s Day mail. Though printing began on April 13, the public could not purchase the stamps until May 2. The first uncut press sheet went to FDR and the second to his wife, Eleanor, who attended the initial printing ceremony.
3c Wisconsin Tercentenary Original Uncut Press Sheet, 1934
Farley started the press machinery at the ceremony. The stamp features an image of French explorer Jean Nicolet, the first European to see Lake Michigan, encounter Winnebago Indians, and explore the region of present-day Wisconsin.
1c Yosemite (National Parks Issue) Original Uncut Press Sheet, 1934
The famous El Capitan is featured at the right of the design. Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes also obtained uncut press sheets of the National Park Series.
2c Grand Canyon (National Parks Issue) Original Uncut Press Sheet, 1934
The Grand Canyon vignette features a view of rock temple formations and the Bright Angel Canyon. The dated signatures prove that these are not reprinted sheets.
3c Mt. Rainier (National Parks Issue) Original Uncut Press Sheet, 1934
Farley autographed the second sheet off the press of the Mt. Rainier and Mirror Lake issues for his three children. The first sheet always went to President Roosevelt, who also provided his autograph.
4c Mesa Verde (National Parks Issue) Original Uncut Press Sheet, 1934
Cliff Palace, a ruin of prehistoric cliff dwellings, is central to the design of the Mesa Verde stamp.
5c Yellowstone (National Parks Issue) Original Uncut Press Sheet, 1934
Farley and FDR signed five sheets of the geyser Old Faithful at Yellowstone National Park.
6c Crater Lake (National Parks Issue) Original Uncut Press Sheet, 1934
Crater Lake fills the basin created by the Mount Mazama (Oregon) volcano. Farley always gave the first uncut sheet to FDR at the time he obtained his autograph. The FDR sheets were part of his philatelic estate sold at auction in 1946.
7c Acadia (National Parks Issue) Original Uncut Press Sheet, 1934
The rock promontory “Great Head” represents Acadia National Park, located at Maine’s Mount Desert Island.
8c Zion (National Parks Issue) Original Uncut Press Sheet, 1934
The massive rock formation “Great White Throne” dominates the Zion National Park issue. Farley autographed the sheets in his famous green ink at the time he purchased them off the press. He later obtained FDR’s signature.
9c Glacier (National Parks Issue) Original Uncut Press Sheet, 1934
The Glacier National Park issue features an image of Mount Rockwell and Two Medicine Lake.
American Philatelic Society Souvenir Sheet on Original Uncut Press Sheet, 1934
The Post Office Department prepared a souvenir sheet of six of the Mt. Rainier stamp to sell to stamp collectors at the 1934 stamp show in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
10c Great Smoky Mountains (National Parks Issue) Original Uncut Press Sheet, 1934
Mount Le Conte is central to the Great Smoky Mountains design.
16c Great Seal of the United States Original Uncut Press Sheet, 1934
Central to the Great Seal stamp’s design, the eagle symbolizes unity, virtue, strength, and independence on this special delivery airmail sheet.
1c Yosemite Trans-Mississippi Philatelic Exhibition Souvenir Sheet on Original Uncut Press Sheet, 1934
The Post Office Department issued souvenir sheets of the 1c Yosemite stamp for the 1934 stamp show in Omaha, Nebraska.