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Presidential Series (1938)

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19-cent Rutherford B. Hayes single

At the suggestion of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Post Office Department opened a national competition in 1937 to design the first stamp in a new series of definitive stamps to be known as the 'Presidential Series'. Artist Elaine Rawlinson of New York City won the contest. She based her design for the 1-cent stamp on a bust of George Washington’s profile by the sculptor Jean Antoine Houdin (1741-1828. It became the basis of the designs for the rest of the 1938 Presidential Series, also affectionately known as the ‘Prexies' or the 'Fifth Bureau Issue’. Each design of the 1938 Presidential Series included a bust profile of a president and the dates of his term(s) as president. The stamps depict all twenty-nine presidents who had died before 1938, including many who had never before appeared on a postage stamp. In addition to the twenty-nine presidents appearing on these stamps, Benjamin Franklin appeared on the half-cent stamp; Martha Washington appeared on the 1.5-cent stamp; the White House appeared on the 4.5-cent stamp. Thus, the Presidential Series contained thirty-two stamps issued in sheet format. The stamps were in use for over eighteen years, from 1938 into the mid-1950s.

The issue provided a chronological overview of the American presidency, from George Washington on the 1-cent stamp to Calvin Coolidge on the 5-dollar value. On stamps from 1-cent through 22-cent, each stamp's denomination corresponded to the presidential sequence: Washington, the first president, on the 1-cent; Adams, the second president, on the 2-cent, and so on. Grover Cleveland, the 22nd president, appeared on the 22-cent stamp. However, since Cleveland served two nonconsecutive terms, this pattern stopped at that point. Any attempt to match the denomination to the order of presidency ended with McKinley. There was no 23-cent stamp in the series. Benjamin Harrison appeared next, on the 24-cent stamp. William McKinley, the 25th president, appeared on the 25-cent stamp. Some of these stamps did not pay any obvious postal rate. Rather, they were issued to present our nation's presidents on denominations in the order of their terms in office.

Though all the stamps in the series were similar, they were not identical. Values from half-cent to 9-cent had no border, as in Rawlinson's original design. The 10-cent through 19-cent values had a single line border, and the 20-cent through 50-cent values had a double line border. The dollar values were bi-color, with designs significantly different from the cent values. All sheet stamps up to 50-cent were printed on rotary presses, and the dollar values were printed on flat plate presses.

The 1-cent Washington sheet stamp, the first of the series, was issued on April 25, 1938. All of the stamps were issued in Washington, D.C., except the half-cent Franklin, which made its appearance in Philadelphia. The Presidential Series contains nine coil stamps with vertical perforations and four coils with horizontal perforations, all printed on the rotary press. The 1-cent, 2-cent, and 3-cent stamps were issued as booklet panes in eighteen different combinations of booklets with a variety of different covers.

Encyclopedia of United States Stamps and Stamp Collecting
May 16, 2006

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1/2-cent Franklin single

This orange stamp, the third stamp issued in the 1938 Presidential Series is an anomaly: 1) It pictures Benjamin Franklin who was never a President of the United States, and 2) No rate ever existed that would have been paid solely with this half cent stamp.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) does have a major connection to philately. Among his many achievements, Franklin served as the first Postmaster General of the United States. For that, and for all his other achievements, he was honored when his picture was engraved on the first postage stamp to be issued by the United States in 1847. His likeness has grace many postage stamps issued by the United States, and other countries ever since.

It is fitting that Benjamin Franklin be included in the 1938 Presidential Series. Many scholars agree that if it wasn't for Franklin's advanced age at the time of the creation of the United States, he would have surely been elected President.

Millions of these Franklin stamps were used to pay postal rates, but no single rate ever existed for the half cent Franklin. A collector wanting to show a single franking on cover would have to resort to showing this half cent stamp affixed to a stamped envelope, postal card, or an envelope with a meter.

The likeness of Franklin on this stamp was taken from a photograph of a statue by James Earl Fraser which stands in the Franklin Institute, in Philadelphia, PA, where the stamp was first put on sale on May 19, 1938.

Jeff Shapiro

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1-cent Washington single

This green 1-cent George Washington stamp was the first stamp of the Presidential Series of 1938 issued. Millions of these stamps were issued, and they were seen on everyday mail through the late 1950s.

In 1933 newly-elected President Franklin Roosevelt, an avid stamp collector, suggested a set of stamps honoring past presidents. In 1937, after lengthy discussions, a decision was made to issue a new definitive series using the Roosevelt's suggestion. A national contest would determine the design upon which the series would be based. With over twelve hundred entries submitted, some from famous artists, a young New York City art student's contribution was chosen the winner. Her name was Elaine Rawlinson.

George Washington has been pictured on more U.S. stamps than any other individual. As the first president, it is fitting that Washington appear on the 1-cent Presidential Series stamp. This stamp appeared in many forms: sheet stamp, horizontal and vertical coil, and as a booklet pane.

No matter the form, the 1-cent George Washington stamp theoretically could pay any postal rate, singly or when added to other stamps. For a collector looking for a solo usage, the most common way would be paying the one-cent domestic postcard rate in effect July 1928 through December 1951. More difficult to find is the one cent per ounce local drop rate (for letters mailed from and to an addressee at a post office without mail-carrier service) in effect July 1919 through December 1951.

Jeff Shapiro

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1 1/2c Martha Washington single

Bearing one of three non-presidential subjects and the only woman portrayed on the 1938 Presidential Series, the 1.5-cent yellow brown Martha Washington stamp saw extensive use from its debut in 1938 through the late 1950s. The likeness of Martha Washington comes from a bust on display in the Memorial Continental Hall Museum.

The 1.5-cent stamp can be found in two forms: as a sheet stamp (issued May 5, 1938) and as a horizontal (sidewise) coil (issued January 20, 1939). The most common usage of this stamp was to pay the third class 'greeting card' rate in effect April 1925 through December 1948.

Jeff Shapiro

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2-cent John Adams horizontal coil single

A portrait of John Adams (1735-1826) appears on the rose carmine 2-cent value of the 1938 Presidential Series. Daniel Chester French's marble bust of Adams, executed in 1889 and displayed in the U.S. Capitol's Senate Gallery, inspired the portrait. Adams, a Federalist, served two terms as vice president under George Washington and narrowly defeated his arch-rival Thomas Jefferson to become the second president of the United States. He and Jefferson died on the same day, July 4, 1826. During his term, the capital of the U.S. was moved from Philadelphia to Washington.

This 2-cent stamp can be found in four formats: a sheet stamp (issued June 3, 1938), a vertical (endwise) coil (issued January 20, 1939), a horizontal (sidewise) coil (issued January 27, 1939), and in pane form (issued January 27, 1939). The most common solo usage of this Prexie stamp can be found on a domestic post card (January 1952-July 1958), a locally delivered letter (July 1933-March 1944) and on a third-class (unsealed) greeting card (January 1949-July 1958).

Jeff Shapiro

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3-cent Thomas Jefferson single

The purple 3-cent value of the 1938 Presidential Series features an image of Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), one of the most influential founders of the United States and the nation's third president (1801-09). A bust on display in the Congressional Library inspired the stamp's vignette. A genius and an enigma, it was Jefferson who wrote the Declaration of Independence but also owned slaves.

With over 130 billion stamps printed, more than any other value in the Presidential Series, this 3-cent stamp was the 'workhorse' of the mail during the 1940s and early 1950s. The stamp can be found in four formats—a sheet stamp (issued June 16, 1938), a sidewise (horizontal) coil (issued January 20, 1939), a vertical (endwise) coil (issued January 27, 1939), and in pane format (issued January 27, 1939).

The most common way to find a single stamp usage is on a first-class domestic envelope. This rate was in effect July 1, 1932-July 31, 1958. The 3-cent stamp could also pay the international postcard fee, in effect July -9, 1934, through July 31, 1958, and the three-cents-per-ounce Pan American Union and Spain Treaty rate on letters addressed to South America and Spain, in effect October 4, 1932, through October 31, 1953.

Jeff Shapiro

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4-cent James Madison single

James Madison (1751-1836), the nation's fourth president, appears on the red-violet 4-cent value of the 1938 Presidential Series. Madison is generally regarded as the 'Father of the Constitution' because he planned the system of 'checks and balances' so important to the success of the U.S. government.

Two varieties of the 4-cent Prexie were printed: a sheet stamp (issued July 1, 1938) and a vertically perforated (sidewise) coil (issued January 27, 1939).

Not widely used when first issued, the 4-cent Prexie fulfilled two times the two-cent-per-ounce rate for letters delivered locally, a rate effective July 1933 through March 1944. Over the years, however, changing postal rates required the use of 4-cent postage. A 4-cent stamp was required to pay the fee on domestic airmail postcards (in effect January 1949 through July 1958), and to pay for a domestic first-class letter (in effect August 1958 through January 8, 1963).

Jeff Shapiro

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4 1/2-cent White House single

The third stamp in the 1938 Presidential Series to feature an image other than that of a president, the 4.5-cent green-gray value depicted the White House. The other two issues not depicting presidents were the Ben Franklin and the Martha Washington.

Inspired by the Leinster House, an Anglo-Irish villa located in Dublin, Irish-born architect James Hoban designed the White House. He won the privilege of designed the presidential mansion in a contest held in 1792 organized by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. When the structure burned during the War of 1812, Hoban returned to oversee reconstruction. He later added the South and North Porticos.

While it may seem strange that such an unusual denomination—4.5-cent—be included in the Presidential Series, businesses demanded such a rate to pay triple the 1.5-cent third-class per two-ounce merchandise rate (in effect July 1939 through March 1944) and triple the 1.5-cent fourth class book rate at 1.5-cent per pound (in effect November 1938 through June 1942).

The 4.5-cent White House stamp was issued in two varieties—in sheet form (issued July 11, 1938) and in the horizontal (sidewise) coil format (issued January 20, 1939).

Jeff Shapiro

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5-cent James Monroe single

An image of James Monroe (1758-1831), the fifth president of the United States (1817-1825) and a prominent leader in the War for Independence, appears on the 5-cent blue stamp issued as part of the 1938 Presidential Series. Monroe's likeness was taken from a medal furnished by the U.S. Mint.

It is ironic that a stamp portraying Monroe, the author of the 'Monroe Doctrine' (which warned the European powers to stay out of affairs of the Americas), be the stamp paying the much-used one-ounce surface rate to the world that was in effect July 1875 through October 1953. The 5-cent Prexie could also pay the one-ounce domestic airmail rate in effect October 1946 through December 1948.

The Bureau produced two varieties of the 5-cent Monroe stamp—the sheet stamp (issued July 21, 1938) and the horizontal (sidewise) coil issued (January 20, 1939).

Jeff Shapiro

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6-cent John Quincy Adams single

The portrait of John Quincy Adams (1767-1848), the sixth U.S. president, appears on the orange 6-cent value of the 1938 Presidential Series. The likeness was taken from a bust on display in the U.S. Capitol.

The son of the second U.S. president, John Adams (who appeared on the 2-cent value of the Presidential Series), John Quincy Adams began a brilliant fifty-four-year career in public service when President George Washington appointed him minister to the Netherlands. He was at the time twenty-seven years old. A less-know fact, John Quincy Adams committed considerable energy to assuring that James Smithson's financial bequest to the United States be used as Smithson had willed—for the creation and dissemination of knowledge. The bequest served as the financial underpinning of the Smithsonian Institution.

Two varieties of the 6-cent stamp exist—a sheet stamp (issued July 28, 1938) and a horizontal (sidewise) coil (issued January 20, 1939).

The primary usage of the 6-cent stamp was for paying the six-cents-per-ounce domestic airmail rate (in effect July 1934 through March 1944 and again in January 1949 through July 1958) and two times the three-cents-per-ounce domestic first-class rate (in effect July 1932 through July 1958). The 6-cent stamp also saw a great deal of use paying the special six-cent airmail military concession rate available to those serving in World War II.

Jeff Shapiro

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7-cent Andrew Jackson single

An image of Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States (1829-1837), appears on the 7-cent sepia stamp issued as part of the 1938 Presidential Series. Jackson's likeness was influenced by the Belle Kinney and Leopold F. Scholz bronze statue which stands in the U.S. Capitol's Rotunda. Printed only as a sheet stamp, the 7-cent stamp was first placed on sale August 4, 1938.

Jackson (1767-1845) was the first president from the nation's 'frontier' regions. He spent most of his life in Tennessee. His troops nicknamed him 'Old Hickory’ for his toughness in battle as a general in the War of 1812.

Despite the many 7-cent stamps used to pay postal fees, no single rate could be paid by a solo 7-cent stamp until 1954, when the Liberty Series was introduced. The 7-cent Liberty paid the seven-cents per ounce domestic airmail rate in effect August 1, 1958, to January 5, 1963.

Jeff Shapiro

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8-cent Martin Van Buren single

Martin Van Buren (1782-1862), the eighth president of the Unites States, appears on the 8-cent olive green denomination of the 1938 Presidential Series. A bust on display in the U.S. Capitol's Senate Gallery inspired the image of Van Buren.

The 8-cent Van Buren stamp was issued in sheet form on August 11, 1938. It saw limited use during the first years after it's release, when the solo stamp could pay for two rates: the five-cent-per-ounce domestic airmail fee plus a three-cent international surface supplementary charge (in effect November 23, 1934, through September 30, 1946) and the two-ounce international surface rate (five cents for the first ounce and three cents for the next ounce, in effect October 1, 1907, through October 31, 1953). Near the end of World War II, the 8-cent stamp saw more usage when the one-ounce domestic airmail rate became eight cents. This rate was in effect for only a short time—March 26, 1944, through September 30, 1946. More extensive use of this stamp came when the one-ounce surface rate to foreign countries became eight cents (in effect November 1, 1953, through June 30, 1961). A half-ounce letter could have been sent by airmail to Cuba for eight cents from June 29, 1945, through July 31, 1954.

Jeff Shapiro

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9-cent William Henry Harrison single

William Henry Harrison (1773-1841), the ninth president of the United States, appears on the 9-cent pink 1938 Presidential Series issue. A bust displayed in the Rotunda of the Virginia State Capitol inspired the stamp's likeness of Harrison. The 9-cent stamp was printed only in sheet form and was issued on August 18, 1938.

Harrison, a hero of the Indian Wars and the War of 1812, was the first president to die in office. On Inauguration Day, 1841, Harrison caught a cold that developed into pneumonia, and he died thirty days later.

The 9-cent Harrison appears most frequently in solo usage paying triple the three-cent first-class rate (in effect July 9, 1934 through July 31, 1858). More difficult to find is the 9-cent stamp paying three times the three-cent-per-ounce Pan-American Union and Spain surface rate (in effect April 1, 1932, through October 31, 1953).

Jeff Shapiro

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10-cent John Tyler single

The likeness of John Tyler (1790-1862), the tenth president of the United States, appears on the orange-brown 10-cent denomination of the 1938 Presidential Series. A bust of Tyler displayed in the Rotunda of the Virginia State Capitol inspired the image. Tyler had not previously appeared on a postage stamp.

The first vice president to assume the presidency, Tyler took office when President William Henry Harrison died thirty days into his term. Tyler finished the term (1841-1845) but did not seek re-election.

The 10-cent denomination was released in two forms, as a sheet stamp (September 2, 1938) and as a horizontal (sidewise) coil (January 20, 1939).

While the Tyler stamp saw extensive use in combination with other stamps, collectors looking for a solo usage should search the following:

1) half-ounce airmail covers to a few U.S. possessions—e.g., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands (in effect the Summer 1929 through January 14, 1945) and the Canal Zone (rate in effect April 1, 1945, through September 30, 1946); mail to a few international destinations—e.g., Jamaica (rate in effect November 15, 1930, through October 31, 1946), Bermuda (rate in effect February 14, 1938, through October 31, 1946); the uniform airmail rate to Central and South America (in effect November 1, 1946, through June 30, 1961); international postcards to most countries (in effect June 1, 1954, through June 30, 1961).

Jeff Shapiro

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11-cent James K. Polk single

The image of James K. Polk (1790-1849), the eleventh president of the United States (1845-1849), appears on the 11-cent value of the 1938 Presidential Series. Polk's likeness on the stamp was derived from a medal struck by the U.S. Mint. This ultramarine stamp was printed only as a sheet stamp and was issued on September 8, 1938.

Interestingly, the first two stamps produced by the United States were issued during Polk's presidency (1847), but this 11-cent denomination was the first to feature his image.

While this 11-cent stamp can be found in use with other stamps, solo usages are somewhat scarce. A single 11-cent stamp would have paid the international surface rate for up to three ounces (five cents for the first ounce and three cents for each of the next two ounces) in effect October 1, 1907, through October 31, 1953, as well as the combination air/surface/air rate to Europe (five cents for the international surface rate plus three cents for domestic air service and a three-cent supplement for air carriage within Europe), in effect November 23, 1934, through the beginning of World War II.

Jeff Shapiro

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12-cent Zachary Taylor single

Zachary Taylor (1784-1850), the twelfth president of the United States, appears on the 12-cent denomination of the 1938 Presidential Series. A bust displayed in the Rotunda of the Virginia State Capitol inspired the image. The Postal Service issued the violet stamp in sheet form on September 14, 1938.

A soldier for over forty years, 'Old Rough and Ready' supposedly never lost a battle. He became a national hero during the Mexican War (1846-1848), and this fame swept him into the presidency. He had served only sixteen months (March 1849-July 1850) when he died from gastrointestinal illness. Vice President Millard Fillmore succeeded him.

The 12-cent stamp was widely used. Rates which could be paid with a single 12-cent stamp included the following: special delivery for a local letter (in effect March 26, 1944, through October 31, 1944); four times the domestic first-class rate (in effect July 1, 1932, through July 31, 1958); two times the 6-cent domestic airmail rate (in effect July 1, 1934, through March 25, 1944, and January 1949 through July 31, 1958); and two times the 6-cent WW II military airmail rate. Half-ounce letters prepaid with this 12-cent postage could be sent by air to El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, with rates in effect December 1, 1937, through March 31, 1946.

Jeff Shapiro

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13c Millard Fillmore single

Millard Fillmore (1800-1874), the thirteenth president of the United States, appears on the 13-cent denomination of the 1938 Presidential Series. The Postal Service issued the stamp in sheet form on September 22, 1938. A bust displayed in the Senate Gallery of the U.S. Capitol inspired the stamp's vignette. This was Millard Fillmore's first appearance on a postage stamp.

Vice President Fillmore became president upon the death of John Tyler. He served out the term (1849-1850) but was not elected to another term. Gold was discovered in California during his presidency.

While the 13-cent value saw use in combination with other stamps, especially on fourth-class mail. For instance, a first-class, special delivery cover could have been properly paid with a combination rate in effect November 1, 1944, through December 31, 1948. Stamps having solo usage are difficult to find.

Jeff Shapiro

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14-cent Pierce single

The likeness of Franklin Pierce (1804-1869), the fourteenth president of the United States, appears on the 14-cent denomination of the 1938 Presidential Series. A medal produced by the U.S. Mint inspired the image of Pierce. The stamp was issued on October 6, 1938.

A hero of the Mexican War, Pierce was elected to the U.S. Congress at age twenty-nine and then to the Senate four years later. A compromise candidate, Pierce received a huge voter mandate but served only one presidential term (1853-1857).

The Bureau produced the 14-cent dark blue Presidential issue only in sheet form. This was Pierce's first appearance on a postage stamp. The Pierce stamp saw limited use and single frankings are difficult to find. One example paid by a single 14-cent stamp would be the international surface rate for four ounces (five cents for the first ounce and three cents for each of the next three ounces), in effect October 1, 1907, through October 31, 1943.

Jeff Shapiro

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15-cent James Buchanan single

The likeness of James Buchanan (1791-1868), the fifteenth president of the United States, appears on the 15-cent issue of the 1938 Presidential Series. The image was inspired by a bust displayed in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, District of Columbia.

Buchanan served in a number of high-ranking positions before being elected to his one term as president, 1856-1861. Among the positions were congressman (1821-1831), senator (1834-1845), minister to Russia (1832-1834), secretary of state (1845-1849), and minister to Great Britain (1853-1856). After serving as president, he retired to his Wheatland, his country estate in Pennsylvania. Wheatland appeared on a 1956 stamp. Buchanan was the only bachelor to serve as president.

The 15-cent blue gray stamp was printed only as a sheet stamp and was issued on October 13, 1938. This was James Buchanan's first appearance on a postage stamp.

The 15-cent Buchanan was used extensively both in combinations with other stamps and as a solo paying various rates. For example, a 15-cent stamp would pay the one-ounce airmail rate to/from the territory of Hawaii (in effect January 15,1945, through September 30, 1946), the half-ounce airmail rate to the Canal Zone (in effect December 1, 1937, through March 31, 1945), the half-ounce airmail rate to Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and Venezuela (in effect April 1, 1945, through October 31, 1946), and the half-ounce airmail rate to Europe and North Africa (in effect November 1, 1946, through April 30, 1967).

Jeff Shapiro

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16-cent Abraham Lincoln single

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), the sixteenth president of the United States (1861-1865), appears on the 16-cent value of the 1938 Presidential Series. A bust displayed in the Senate Gallery in Washington, D.C., inspired Lincoln's likeness on this issue.

Much has been written about the life of the legendary Abraham Lincoln, from his birth in a log cabin in Kentucky to his assassination at the beginning of his second term as president in 1865. Honored worldwide as a symbol of justice and freedom, Lincoln has appeared on hundreds of stamps around the globe.

Issued on October 20, 1938, this 16-cent value was printed in black and only in sheet form.

No single rate ever existed for this 16-cent stamp, but the stamp was used with other stamps to pay a variety of postal rates. In addition, a solo 16-cent stamp paid for a variety of domestic combination rates. When the stamp was issued, it would prepay two times the three-cent domestic first-class rate and the ten-cent Special Delivery rate. This combination was in effect July 6, 1932, through October 31, 1944. Also, at the time of the stamp's issue, the 16-cent stamp would pay the six-cent-per-one-ounce domestic airmail rate plus ten cents for Special Delivery. This combination was in effect July 1, 1934, through October 31, 1944.

The six-cents-per-ounce military airmail rate created another opportunity for solo usage when added to the existing ten-cent Special Delivery fee. This combination was in effect December 25, 1941, through October 31, 1944.

When the Special Delivery rate increased to thirteen cents on November 1, 1944, the 16-cent Lincoln could still be used, but this time on a one ounce 3-cent domestic letter. This combination rate was valid until December 31, 1948. When the domestic airmail rate increased to eight-cents-per-ounce on March 26, 1944, a 16-cent stamp could pay double the rate. This rate lasted until September 30, 1946.

Jeff Shapiro

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The image of Andrew Johnson (1808-1875), the nation's seventeenth president, appears on the 17-cent value of the 1938 Presidential Series. Johnson's likeness was inspired by a bust displayed in the Senate Gallery in Washington, District of Columbia.

A career politician, Johnson was the third vice president to become president after the death of an elected president, in this case, Abraham Lincoln. Johnson was an unpopular president and escaped impeachment by one vote. He finished Lincoln's term (1865-1869) but was not elected to another.

This rose-red stamp was issued on October 27, 1938, as a sheet stamp. It marks the first appearance of Andrew Johnson on a postage stamp.

The 17-cent stamp saw much use in combination with other stamps. The most common use for a solo 17-cent stamp was for prepaying charges for a local letter (two cents) with minimum registration (fifteen cents). This combination rate was in effect July 1, 1933, through March 24, 1944.

A more difficult challenge is to find this 17-cent stamp paying the international surface fee for five ounces—five cents for the first ounce and three cents for each of the next four ounces. This rate was in effect October 1, 1907, through October 31, 1953.

Jeff Shapiro

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18-cent Ulysses S. Grant single

The image of Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885), the eighteenth president of the United States, appears on the 18-cent denomination of the 1938 Presidential Series. Grant's likeness was inspired by a statue in the Rotunda of the United States Capitol.

Grant was a career military professional whose service in the Civil War made him a national hero. This popularity eventually propelled him into two terms of the presidency (1869-1877).

This carmine brown stamp was printed as a sheet stamp and was released to the public on November 3, 1938. When first issued, the 18-cent stamp paid for a three-cent domestic letter plus fifteen cents for minimum registration (in effect July 6, 1932, through March 25, 1944). In addition, a solo 18-cent stamp could have prepayed the three-cent fee for a letter to South America and Spain plus the fifteen-cent fee for international registration ( in effect July 6, 1932, through January 31, 1945).

Beginning on October 1, 1946, the 18-cent stamp prepayed the five-cent fee for domestic airmail and a thirteen-cent fee for special delivery. This combination rate was in effect until December 31, 1948.

When postage rates were raised, an 18-cent stamp would still prepay the three-cent rate for a domestic letter and thirteen-cent fee for special delivery. This combination of rates was in effect January 1, 1949, through December 31, 1948.

Other ways to use the 18-cent stamp included paying six times the three-cents-per-ounce domestic letter rate (in effect July 6, 1932, through July 31, 1958) and three times the six-cent airmail rate (in effect July 1, 1934, through March 25, 1944, and again January 1, 1949, through July 31, 1958, and for World War II military personnel, December 26, 1941, through September 30, 1946).

Jeff Shapiro

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19-cent Rutherford B. Hayes single

The likeness of Rutherford B. Hayes (1822-1893), the nineteenth president of the United States, appears on the 19-cent denomination of the 1938 Presidential Series. Hayes's image was derived from a medal struck by the U.S. Mint.

Hayes, a lawyer, served as a three-term governor of Ohio and as a member of the U.S. Congress. He served as president from 1877-1881. He chose to serve only one term.

This 19-cent violet stamp was printed only in sheet form and was released to the public on November 10, 1938, along with the 20-cent Prexie denomination.

While this 19-cent stamp can be found paying for rates and postal fees in combination with other stamps, there was no single rate applicable to the 19-cent stamp when issued. Complex combination rates were possible, but any solo usage of this stamp is very hard to find. Examples includes three times the three-cents- per-ounce domestic letter rate plus the ten-cent special delivery fee (in effect July 1, 1928, through October 31, 1944), or two times the three-cent domestic letter fee plus thirteen cents for special delivery (in effect November 1, 1944, through December 31, 1948).

Jeff Shapiro

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20-cent Garfield single

The likeness of James A. Garfield (1831-1881), the twentieth president of the United States, appears on the 20-cent denomination of the 1938 Presidential Series. Garfield's image was inspired by a medal created by the U.S. Mint.

Garfield chose academia as a career early in life. He later turned to politics and served seven terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was the first left-handed person elected president and the second president to be assassinated. Garfield was shot by a disgruntled civil servant only a few months into his presidency (1881).

This bluish green value was printed only as a sheet stamp and was issued to the public on November 10, 1938, the same day as the 19-cent Presidential value.

When first issued, a variety of rates could have been paid with a single 20-cent stamp, including a registered letter to most foreign countries—five cents for the one-ounce U.P.U. surface rate plus a fifteen-cent international registration fee, in effect December 1, 1925, through January 31, 1945; the half-ounce airmail rate to/from Hawaii in effect April 24, 1937, through January 14, 1945; the half-ounce airmail rate between Hawaii and Guam in effect April 21, 1937, through September 30, 1946; and the half-ounce airmail rate to British Honduras in effect February 4, 1938, through March 31, 1945.

A few years later, a 20-cent stamp would have paid to mail a half-ounce letter by air to South America. This rate was in effect April 1, 1945, through October 31, 1946. With the reduction of the South American airmail rate on November 1, 1946, the same 20-cent stamp would pay two times the new ten-cent-per-half-ounce airmail fee. This rate was in effect until June 30, 1961.

Jeff Shapiro

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21-cent Chester A. Arthur single

The image of Chester A. Arthur (1830-1886), the twenty-first president of the United States, appears on the 21-cent value of the 1938 Presidential Series. The likeness was taken from a bust on view in the U.S. Senate Gallery.

Arthur, a lawyer and a career politician, was the fourth vice president to ascend to the office of president, serving the remainder of James Garfield's term after Garfield was assassinated in 1881.

The 21-cent greenish blue stamp was printed only in sheet form and was issued on November 22, 1938. This was Chester Arthur's first appearance on a postage stamp.

At the time of the stamp's release, this 21-cent stamp would have paid a number of postal fees—a double-rate domestic letter (six cents) plus minimum registration (fifteen cents); a single-weight domestic letter (three cents) with minimum registration (fifteen cents) and a return receipt (three cents). Both these combinations of rates were in effect July 6, 1932, through March 24, 1944.

In addition, at the time the stamp was issued, a 21-cent stamp would pay for a one ounce airmail letter (six cents) with minimum registration (fifteen cents). This combination of fees was in effect July 1, 1934, through March 24, 1944.

Years later, this 21-cent stamp would pay for additional combination rates, including the fees for airmail, special delivery letters: from November 1, 1944, through September 30, 1946, a one ounce domestic airmail letter (eight cents) plus special delivery (thirteen cents), and from January 1, 1949, through December 31, 1951, a one ounce airmail letter (six cents) with special delivery services (fifteen cents).

Jeff Shapiro

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22-cent Grover Cleveland single

The likeness of Grover Cleveland (1837-1908) appears on the 22-cent value of the 1938 Presidential Series. Cleveland's image was derived from a medal produced by the U.S. Mint.

Cleveland, a lawyer and career politician, was the only person to serve two non-consecutive terms as president of the United States (1885-1889, 1893-1897). Most people therefore consider him both the twenty-second and twenty-fourth presidents. Cleveland was also the only president to be married while in office.

This vermilion stamp was printed only in sheet form and was issued on November 22, 1938, the same day as the 21-cent Garfield stamp.

While the 22-cent stamp was used in combination with other stamps, finding a solo 22-cent usage to pay postal fees is extremely difficult. Examples include a special delivery (twenty cents) postcard to the Pan-American Union and Spain (two cents) mailed between April 1, 1934, and October 31, 1953, and a special delivery (twenty cents) domestic postcard (two cents) sent while this combination rate was in effect, January 1, 1952, through June 30, 1957.

Jeff Shapiro

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24-cent Benjamin Harrison single

The likeness of Benjamin Harrison (1833-1903), the twenty-third president of the United States (1889-1893), appears on the 24-cent value of the 1938 Presidential Series. Harrison's image was inspired by a bust on view at the John Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Harrison was born into a family of politicians. He was the son of John Scott Harrison (a two-term U.S. Congressman) and the grandson of William Henry Harrison (the ninth president of the United States, who appeared on the 9-cent value of the Presidential Series).

This gray black stamp was issued only in sheet form and was issued on December 2, 1938, the same day as the 25-cent Presidential Series stamp portraying William McKinley.

The 24-cent stamp can be found alone or in combination with other stamps paying a variety of postal fees. When the stamp was issued, this solo 24-cent stamp would pay 1) for two times the three-cents-per-ounce domestic letter rate and fifteen cents for minimum registration plus three cents for return receipt service (in effect July 6, 1932, through March 25, 1944); and 2) for three times the two-cent local letter rate plus fifteen cents for minimum registration and three cents for a return receipt (in effect January 1, 1933, through March 25, 1944); and 3) six cents for a one ounce domestic airmail letter plus fifteen cents for minimum registration and three cents for a return receipt (in effect July 1, 1934, through March 25, 1944).

Jeff Shapiro

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25-cent William McKinley single

The likeness of William McKinley (1843-1901), the twenty-fifth president of the United States, appears on the 25-cent value of the 1938 Presidential. The image was taken from a medal produced by the U.S. Mint.

A career politician, McKinley was a six-term congressman and the governor of Ohio before beating William Jennings Bryan for two terms in the White House (1897-1901). He was assassinated early in his second term while attending the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo in 1901.

This red lilac stamp, printed only in sheet form, was issued on December 2, 1938, the same day as the 24-cent Presidential Series value featuring Benjamin Harrison.

While this 25-cent stamp would pay a variety of rates in combination with other stamps, collectors looking for a solo usage have many rates from which to choose, including: 1) a domestic registered (twenty cents) one ounce airmail (five cent) letter (in effect October 1, 1946, through December 31, 1948; and 2) a special delivery (twenty cents) one ounce surface letter to foreign countries except South America and Spain (five cents) (in effect September 1, 1926, through October 31, 1953); and 3) a half-ounce airmail letter to Asia (except the USSR and Turkey), the Pacific Islands, and Africa except Mediterranean North Africa (in effect November 1, 1946, through June 30, 1971).

Jeff Shapiro

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30-cent Theodore Roosevelt single

The image of Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), the twenty-sixth president of the United States (1901-1909), appears on the 30-cent value of the 1938 Presidential Series. Roosevelt's likeness was taken from a bust on display in the Senate Gallery of the United States Capitol in Washington, District of Columbia.

Roosevelt, a noted historian, naturalist, and explorer, was also a skillful politician who became a national hero for his exploits with his Rough Riders during the Spanish-American War. As vice president, Roosevelt assumed the presidency upon the assassination of William McKinley in 1901.

This ultramarine stamp, printed only in sheet form, was issued to the public on December 8, 1938, the same day as the 50-cent Presidential stamp featuring William Howard Taft.

This 30-cent stamp saw extensive use in paying fees alone or in combination with other stamps. There are many opportunities for collectors to find solo usages of this stamp paying a variety of rates, including a half-ounce airmail letter to Europe (in effect April 28, 1939, through October 31, 1946); a half-ounce airmail letter to South America (ten cents) plus special delivery (twenty cents) (in effect November 1, 1946, through June 30, 1957); and a postcard sent to most international countries (ten cents) plus special delivery (twenty cents) (in effect June 1, 1954, through June 30. 1957).

Jeff Shapiro

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50-cent William Howard Taft single

The likeness of William Howard Taft (1857-1930), the twenty-seventh president of the United States, appears on the 50-cent value of the 1938 Presidential Series. The image was taken from a bust sculpted especially for the stamp. Existing busts were rejected for use because they resembled President Grover Cleveland, who appeared on the 22-cent stamp.

Taft, a lawyer and judge, entered civil service at the request of his friend Theodore Roosevelt, under whom he served as secretary of war. It is said that Taft reluctantly accepted the nomination to the presidency because he preferred a position as justice of the Supreme Court, a job he received after retiring after two terms as president (1908-1913).

The 50-cent lavender stamp was printed only as a sheet stamp and was issued on December 8, 1938, the same day as the 30-cent stamp portraying Theodore Roosevelt.

The 50-cent Taft issue saw extensive use in the domestic and foreign mails, and many opportunities for solo usage exist. For example, when the 50-cent stamp was issued, it would have paid the half-ounce airmail rate to the Philippines (in effect April 21, 1937, through June 30, 1946). A few years later, the same 50-cent stamp would have paid the half-ounce airmail rate to West Africa (Gambia, Sierra Leone, Gold Coast, Nigeria, and Liberia, in effect December 2, 1941, through October 31 1946). A 50-cent stamp would have also paid two times the twenty-five-cents-per half-ounce airmail rate to most counties in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific (in effect November 1, 1946, through June 30, 1971).

Jeff Shapiro

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$1 Woodrow Wilson single

The image of Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924), the twenty-eighth president of the United States, appears on the 1-dollar issue of the 1938 Presidential Series. Wilson's likeness was taken from a medal struck by the U.S. Mint.

Woodrow Wilson, a former president of Princeton University and governor of New Jersey, led the United States through World War I and earned the reputation as a peacemaker. He was the first American president to win the Nobel Peace Prize (1920).

Elaine Rawlinson, the young artist who originally designed the Presidential Series, planned only for mono-colored stamps. The Post Office Department rejected that concept for the high value stamps, thinking the 1-dollar, 2-dollar, and 5-dollar stamps might be confused with the 1-cent, 2-cent, and 5-cent stamps. The 1-dollar stamp, printed in violet and black, was issued to the public on August 29, 1938, in sheet form.

Usages of the 1-dollar stamp in combination with other stamps are relatively easy to find, especially on parcels, registered letters, and heavier international airmail covers. Collectors looking for solo usages of the 1-dollar stamp will usually have to find specific multiple airmail rate covers. For example, the 1-dollar stamp would have paid two times the 50-cents per half ounce airmail rate via the Pacific to the Territory of the Philippines (in effect April 21, 1937 thru June 30, 1946), or two times the 50-cents per half ounce airmail rate to West Africa via the South Atlantic (in effect December 2, 1941 thru October 31, 1946), and four times the 25-cents per half ounce airmail rate to most of Africa, Asia, and the Pacific Islands (in effect November 1, 1946 thru June 30, 1971).

Jeff Shapiro

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$2 Warren G. Harding single

The image of Warren G. Harding (1865-1923), the twenty-ninth president of the United States (1921-1923), appears on the 2-dollar issue of the 1938 Presidential Series. Harding's likeness was taken from a medal struck by the U.S. Mint. The 2-dollar yellow-green and black stamp was issued in sheet form on September 29, 1938.

Harding, a newspaper publisher before entering politics, was the sixth president to die in Office. Harding died of heart disease twenty-seven months into his scandal-ridden first term. Vice President Calvin Coolidge replaced him.

The 2-dollar stamp saw limited usage in combination with other stamps to pay a variety of parcel post, registry, and international airmail fees. One of the most difficult presidential values to find as a solo usage, this stamp could have theoretically paid a variety of fees, including four times the fifty-cents-per-half-ounce airmail fee to the Philippines (in effect Aril 21, 1937, through October 31, 1946), four times the fifty-cents-per-half-ounce airmail rate to West Africa (in effect December 2, 1941, through October 31, 1946), and eight times the twenty-five-cents-per-half-ounce airmail rate to most of Africa, Asia, and the Pacific islands (in effect November 1, 1946, through June 30, 1971). In addition, this 2-dollar stamp would have paid five times the forty-cents-per-half-ounce airmail rate to five countries in South America (in effect December 1, 1937, through March 31, 1945).

Jeff Shapiro

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$5 Calvin Coolidge single

The image of Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933), the thirtieth president of the United States (1923-1929), appears on the 5-dollar value of the 1938 Presidential Series. His likeness was taken from a medal struck by the U.S. Mint.

Coolidge, a career politician from Plymouth, Vermont, became president upon the death of Warren G. Harding. "Silent Cal," as he was known, felt that the best government was the government that governed the least, and he saw his role as president as that of a figure head. Coolidge's 1923 State of the Union address was the first presidential speech ever broadcast on the radio, and four days later he again addressed the American people, this time from the White House. His speech paid tribute to Warren G. Harding.

No memorial stamp was ever created for this popular president because everyone involved assumed Coolidge would be part of the 1938 Presidential Series, then in its early planning stage. Therefore, the 5-dollar issue was Coolidge's first appearance on a postage stamp.

The carmine and black 5-dollar stamp was printed only in sheet form and was issued on November 17, 1938. It is the most difficult of the series to locate on cover. Most of these stamps can be found in combination with other stamps on tags, paying the postage and other fees to mail negotiable securities between banks. Theoretically, a solo 5-dollar stamp could have been used to pay for a variety of multiple rates and fees, but none has been discovered.

Jeff Shapiro

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