"'Chick' Stamp Sells to Tune of Over 900,000 at New Haven, September 9," announced the headline of the September 25, 1948, issue of Western Stamp Collector. Known as Scott 968, this 3-cent commemorative was the first US stamp to picture an egg. Many people do not notice the egg at first because the "3c" denomination eclipses it.
The stamp honored the centennial of the American Poultry Industry. It features an image of the Light Brahma rooster, chosen because "it was the oldest breed in America." Officials debated the breed to feature on the stamp, and the Light Brahma rooster provided a compromise. Spokespersons considered the Plymouth Rock, Rhode Island Red, and Wyandotte, among others.
Paul Ives, editor of Cackle and Crow, a poultry magazine published in New Haven, Connecticut, put forth the idea for the stamp in 1947. Poultry was Connecticut's foremost agricultural industry at the time. "The stamp is designed more to honor the poultry industry than the hen," Mr. Ives said, "and I cannot see anything ridiculous in honoring a three and a half billion dollar industry."
Over the years, collectors have made 'the chicken stamp' the object of much discussion. To many it reflects the frivolous side of the plethora of commemorative topics chosen for stamps each year. Speaking at the First Day Ceremony, Congressman Antoni N. Sadlak stated, "So seldom do we count our blessings that we readily fall into the habit of minimizing the importance of certain segments of our food producing sources. The Poultry Industry is a good example. The issuance of this stamp is a means of paying tribute to American Genius, which has built this vast business."
Postmaster General Jesse Donaldson ordered an initial printing of 50,000,000 of the sepia stamps, and the final production count was just under 53,000,000. There were 475,000 first-day covers processed, the second highest number of the year, attesting to the huge crowd that gathered in New Haven for the festivities.
Reference: Western Stamp Collector. Mill City, Oregon. August and September, 1948.
Steven J. Rod