President Warren G. Harding, twenty-ninth U.S. president, died suddenly on August 2, 1923. In less than a month the Post Office Department issued a special 2-cent memorial stamp. The stamp was issued in black rather than the red color required for international use by the Universal Postal Union. It featured a profile portrait of Harding engraved from an etching taken from a photograph. The stamp was the same size, with a slightly altered frame, as the 2-cent stamp design of the definitive series of 1922-1923.
The initial Harding stamps were produced on the flat-plate press. They were first issued on September 1, in Harding’s hometown of Marion, Ohio, and in the District of Columbia. It was planned that the highly-publicized memorial stamp would only be sold for a period of ninety days. On September 6, stamps produced on the Stickney rotary press went on sale. The stamps were also offered for sale as flat-plate imperforate sheets on November 15. According to the Post Office Department press release, they were issued to meet the demand from collectors.
Some Harding rotary press-printed stamps were perforated gauge 11 x 11on the flat-plate equipment instead of the normal 10 x 10 rotary perforating machine, producing an important twentieth century rarity.