Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) had appeared on at least one denomination of every regular issue since 1866. When the definitive issue of 1908 (the Third Bureau Issue) bore only the portraits of Washington and Franklin, there was considerable public disappointment.
The 100th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth created an opportunity to correct the situation. Ernest Robinson Ackerman, a well-known stamp collector, successfully led the appeal for a special commemorative stamp. Ten years later (1919) Ackerman would represent New Jersey in the U.S. Congress. The National Postal Museum now owns part of Ackerman’s United States collection.
The 2-cent Lincoln stamp of 1909 had the dimensions of a definitive stamp, but it was the first U.S. single stamp commemorative issue. The Lincoln portrait is based on a statue by sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. It was also the first commemorative issued with and without perforations. A number of stamps of this time period were made available imperforate, intended for perforation and manufacture into coils by private companies for use in vending and affixing machines.