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Liberty Issue (1954-1968)

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1/2-cent Benjamin Franklin single

The Liberty Series takes its name from the 3-cent, 8-cent, and 11-cent values picturing the Statue of Liberty. The series started out as a set of seventeen different subjects with eighteen denominations, printed in formats of sheet panes, booklet panes, and coils. Unlike the thirty-two different values of the Presidential Series, many of which saw very little service, the eighteen denominations for the Liberties were selected to ensure no more than two stamps were necessary to pay up to sixty cents in postage, nor more than three for up to $1.60. Over time, eight denominations were added to the original plan (1.25-cent, 2.5-cent, 4.5-cent, 8-cent Pershing, 11-cent, 12-cent, 15-cent, and 25-cent).

The series differed radically from the Presidential series, featuring 'warm portraits' of its subjects as compared to 'hard profile busts' of the earlier series. Famous portrait artists and photographers' works were used as the basis for the designs, such as the work of Rembrandt Peale for the 5-cent James Monroe and the 15-cent John Marshall

The 8-cent red, white, and blue Statue of Liberty stamp, issued on April 9, 1954, was the first of the series. The premiere of this stamp was actually broadcast on national television with President Dwight David Eisenhower presiding! The series was in general use from 1954 through 1973, though some stamps in the series remained on sale through the 1980s.

All stamps were produced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and most were printed by the rotary press. The 8-cent Statue of Liberty was printed on both the flat plate and the Stickney rotary presses. A third version of the 8-cent Liberty as well as the 11-cent Liberty was also printed on the new Giori Press. The 5-dollar Hamilton was printed only on the flat plate press.

As a result of experiments begun at the Bureau in 1953, the series introduced a new 'dry' paper (moisture content 5-10 percent); in previous 'Wet' printings, the paper had a moisture content of 15-35 per cent. The new process required a thicker, stiffer paper, special types of inks and greater pressure to force the paper into the recessed plates producing designs that stood out more clearly. Fourteen denominations were printed on both wet and dry paper.

The phosphor tagging of stamps, applied to facilitate automatic mail handling, was a process pioneered in 1963 and adopted for regular use by 1968. The advent of tagged versions of a stamp unintentionally produced new varieties even though they appear to be identical to the naked eye. The Liberties have many tagged varieties. The first Liberty series stamp to be tagged was the 4-cent Lincoln stamp (1036b), issued November 2, 1963.

Two perforation varieties are found on the Liberty series coil stamps. The coils were initially issued with normal size (large holes) perforation holes and then appeared with small holes, even though they were of the same perforation gauge.

The final stamp in the Liberty Series was issued on February 25, 1965, in Boston, the 25-cent coil featuring Paul Revere, and remained on sale officially until April 30, 1987, a remarkable 22-year run.

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

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1/2-cent Benjamin Franklin single

The first American-born postmaster general of the American colonies, Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) is honored on the half-cent Liberty stamp. A portrait in pastel by J.S. Duplessis in the book entitled “The Pictorial Life of Benjamin Franklin, Printer” inspired the stamp's vignette.

Issued on October 20, 1955, this was the last of the half-cent postage stamps issued by the United States Post Office since 1922. As with all of the other half-cent stamps, there was no specific rate for which this denomination could be used as a single stamp to pay the rate. Although the USPS did not use the term 'make-up rate stamp' until the 1990’s, the half-cent Franklin is truly a make-up rate stamp. When it was issued, there were numerous third- and fourth- class postage rates that required a half-cent denomination (e.g., 1.5, 2.5, 4.5 etc), and this stamp was issued to be used to 'make-up' the rate along with another of the Liberty definitives.

Franklin’s portrait has appeared on U.S. stamps many times since 1847. He is remembered as “The Father of the American Postal Service,” and his omnipresence on our definitive stamps is therefore most appropriate. So many famous quotations are attributed to Franklin, including “Fear to do ill, and you need fear nought else.”

Steven J. Rod

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1.5-cent Mount Vernon single

The Liberty Series was originally planned to honor six presidents, six famous Americans, and six historic national shrines. The first of the shrines is the 1.5-cent Mount Vernon issue, which was first available at Mount Vernon, Virginia, on February 22, 1956. William K. Shrage of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing designed the stamp working from a photograph made by the Bureau for this purpose. This horizontal stamp features a view of Washington's home facing the Potomac River.

This 1.5-cent stamp was issued to cover the single piece (third-class) rate for non-profit organizations initiated on August 1, 1958. Precancelled Mount Vernon stamps met the 1718-1752e commercial third-class bulk rate until January 1, 1959.

George Washington's brother Lawrence (1718-1752) built Mount Vernon in 1743, naming it for his commander in the British Navy, Admiral Edward Vernon. George Washington inherited it upon his brother’s death in 1752.

Washington loved Mount Vernon as evidenced by a letter he wrote to his friend David Stuart: “I can truly say that I had rather be at Mount Vernon with a friend or two about me than to be attended at the seat of government by the officers of state and the representatives of every power in Europe.” It should not go unnoticed that the 1-cent stamp pictures George Washington and the 1.5-cent stamp features his beloved his home.

Steven J. Rod

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1-cent George Washington single

The 1-cent stamp features a likeness of George Washington reproduced from a portrait by Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828) generally thought to be the original “right-side of the face” type. This portrait, painted from life in 1795, hangs in the National Gallery of Art and is part of the Andrew Mellon collection. It is known as the "Vaughn portrait" because Samuel Vaughan, a London merchant and close friend of Washington, purchased Stuart's original of the portrait. Stuart often painted replicas based on his own originals.

The 1-cent Washington stamp was issued August 26, 1954, at Chicago, Illinois. It was designed by Charles R. Chickering, who prepared an original drawing from a photograph obtained from the National Gallery. The portrait was engraved by Richard M. Bower of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Charles A. Brooks engraved the frame, and John S. Edmondson engraved the numeral and lettering.

In the first ever first day ceremony for a coil stamp, the same 1-cent stamp was issued on October 8, 1954, at Baltimore, Maryland, in side-wise perforated (vertical) coil rolls.

Steven J. Rod

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1.25c Palace of the Governors single

A turquoise 1 1/4-cent stamp issued in both sheet form and coiled rolls on June 17, 1960, features an image of the Palace of Governors in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This coincided with the opening day of Santa Fe’s 350th anniversary celebration. The Palace is shown on the stamp from a front angle, a design which was taken from a photograph by Tyler Dingee of Santa Fe. The Governor's Palace stamp was the eighth 'national shrine' honored by this series.

The new stamps were used for bulk mailings by not-for-profit organizations. The stamps sold at the first day ceremonies were not precancelled, but starting on June 18, the stamps were available to the general public only in precancelled form at post offices. They remained on sale and available to collectors at the Philatelic Sales Agency in Washington in non-precancelled form. On July 1 the first-class postage rate was five cents, making a strip of four or a block of four stamps an interesting first day cover franking.

The Palace, built in 1610, has long been considered America’s oldest public building. It was New Mexico's seat of government until 1901. It is now a museum.

Steven J. Rod

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2-cent Thomas Jefferson single

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), the third president of the United States, appears on the 2-cent Liberty, which was issued on September 15, 1954, at San Francisco, California. The postcard rate was two cents from its debut through July 31, 1958, and the stamp saw heavy use for that reason.

The likeness of Jefferson was taken from a portrait by Gilbert Stuart which hangs at the Bowdoin College Museum of Fine Arts in Brunswick, Maine.

On October 22, 1954, the stamp was issued in coils for use in vending machines. It had the most remarkable on-sale life of any United States stamp, being removed from sale at the Philatelic Agency on January 31, 1984. Consequently, it is not unusual to see the 2-cent coil used frequently on mail through the 1980s.

Jefferson was president from 1801 through 1809. He was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence. Major events during his presidency include the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the Embargo Act of 1807, and the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804-1806. In addition to his political career, Jefferson was also an agriculturalist, horticulturist, architect, archaeologist, mathematician, surveyor, paleontologist, author, lawyer, inventor, violinist, and the founder of the University of Virginia.

Steven J. Rod

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2.5-cent Bunker Hill Monument single

The 2 1/2-cent Liberty stamp commemorates the Battle of Bunker Hill, the first significant engagement in the American War of Independence, fought June 17, 1775. An American force, never exceeding 1,500, opposed the British forces, numbering between 2,000 and 3,000. It was at Bunker Hill that General Joseph Warren issued his famous command, "Don't shoot until you see the whites of their eyes!" order. A rallying point for the colonists, the battle proved that untrained and ill-equipped troops could face- down the highly skilled and well-armed British army.

The stamp, which features images of the Bunker Hill Monument and the flag adopted by Massachusetts at the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, was issued on June 17, 1959, at Boston, Massachusetts, in sheet form. It appeared in coil form on September 9, 1959, at Los Angeles California. It paid the individual piece minimum rate for large third class bulk mailings.

Robert L. Miller of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing designed the stamp. Arthur W. Dintaman engraved the vignette, and John S. Edmonson engraved the lettering and the numeral.

The POD applied a pictorial cancel to first day covers, which featured a "Minute Man," the symbol of resistance during the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Steven J. Rod

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3-cent Statue of Liberty single

The hallmark of the Liberty Series, the 3-cent issue paid the domestic first-class rate from its day of issuance on June 24, 1954, until July 31, 1958. The stamp was issued in conjunction with the 200th anniversary of the first American Congress, held on June 24, 1754, at which Benjamin Franklin presented the first plan of federal union. His plan was read to the Congress and adopted.

The stamp's design portrays the Statue of Liberty against a background which features a graduated tone effect to create a halo. The halo accents the statue's natural beauty. The stamp was also issued in booklet and coil form. It was issued in booklet form on June 30, 1954, and in coil form on July 20, 1954.

Used to meet the prevailing first-class letter rate, the 3-cent Liberty was a companion to the 8-cent Liberty, issued ten weeks earlier. The 10-cent Liberty met the international letter rate.

Charles R. Checkering designed the stamp, which was engraved by Bureau engravers Richard D. Bower and George L. Huber.

Inscribed on the base of the statue is the poem written by Emma Lazarus, which, in part, reads:

"Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.

I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

Steven J. Rod

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4-cent Abraham Lincoln single

President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) appeared on the most popular stamp in the United States when, after twenty-six years at three cents, the first-class postage rate rose to four cents on August 1, 1958. Originally issued on November 16, 1954, this red-violet stamp features Lincoln’s likeness inspired by a portrait by Douglas Volk. First-class postage remained four cents through January 6, 1963, and this stamp was the workhorse during that period. From Nov 1, 1953, to July 30, 1958, four cents also paid the added-ounce rate on surface letters to Europe.

Tagging experiments began during the period, and the 4-cent Lincoln was the first Liberty series stamp to be tagged, and that occurred on November 2, 1963.

The 4-cent Lincoln coil was issued on July 31, 1958, at Mandan, North Dakota, site of Fort Abraham Lincoln. The 4-cent booklet panes were issued at Wheeling, West Virginia, on the same date, as were the 4-cent coil rolls.

Charles R. Chickering of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing designed the stamp, inspired by an original drawing from a photograph of the Volk portrait.

Steven J. Rod

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4.5-cent The Hermitage single

A view of The Hermitage, home of Andrew Jackson (1767-1845), is featured on the 4.5-cent Liberty Series stamp. Jackson was the nation's seventh president. The stamp was issued in sheet form on March 16, 1959, at Hermitage, Tennessee, a small post office located twelve miles from Nashville. It was issued in coil rolls of five hundred and 3,000 on May 1, 1959, at Denver, Colorado.

Andrew Jackson and his brother-in-law William Donelson purchased the property in 1795. Jackson became its sole owner in 1806, at which point he constructed slave cabins and machinery to gin cotton. He lived in a log cabin on the property until 1821, when he moved into the stone mansion. He resided there until his death in 1845. The state of Tennessee purchased the property from the Jackson family in 1856, and the Ladies' Hermitage Association has overseen it as a historic site since 1889.

The 4.5-cent stamps were issued for use on single pieces of third-class mail weighing more than two ounces and up to four ounces, a rate that was in effect until January 7, 1963.

The stamp was designed by Charles R. Chickering and engraved by Matthew D. Fenton and George A. Payne of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

Steven J. Rod

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5-cent James Monroe single

The likeness of James Monroe (1758-1831), the nation's fifth president, appears on the 5-cent Liberty Series stamp. The vignette was inspired by a portrait by Rembrandt Peale displayed at James Monroe Law Office and Museum in Fredericksburg, Virginia. This is the building in which James Monroe practiced law.

The stamp was issued on December 2, 1954, at Fredericksburg, Virginia. On December 2, 1823, President James Monroe announced the Monroe Doctrine in his annual address to Congress. It declared that the Americas were to be free from colonization and interference from Europe. Beginning on August 1, 1958, five cents paid the two-ounce rate on surface letters to Europe. This meant that a two-ounce letter to Europe was franked with both Miss Liberty and President Monroe, proclaiming, "Do not interfere with us!"

One of the most outstanding events of the first day ceremony was the release of three hundred carrier pigeons under the direction of William Pennington, the man in charge of the pigeons of the Signal Corps during WW II. The birds carried first day covers and delivered them to state capitals within a five hundred-mile range, arriving before the regular mails.

The stamp was designed by Charles R. Chickering.

Steven J. Rod

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6-cent Theodore Roosevelt single

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), the twenty-sixth president of the United States, is honored on the 6-cent Liberty stamp. The stamp was designed by Victor S. McCloskey, Jr., and Charles R. Chickering of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. It was issued on November 18, 1955, at New York City, the place of Roosevelt’s birth. The likeness of Roosevelt was reproduced from a photograph of a Philip A. De Laszlo painting.

Roosevelt was president from September 14, 1901, through March 3, 1909. Also known as 'T.R.' or 'Teddy', he was the youngest president in U.S. history to that point. He was forty-two years old when inaugurated. He was a widely respected historian, naturalist, and explorer of the Amazon Basin. He wrote thirty-five books, including works on outdoor life, natural history, U.S. western and political history.

The 6-cent stamp was very versatile when issued, as it met both the two ounce first-class letter rate and the one ounce domestic airmail rate.

Steven J. Rod

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7-cent Woodrow Wilson single

The 7-cent Liberty Series stamp honors Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924), the twenty-eighth president of the United States. The stamp was first available to the public on January 10, 1956, at Wilson's birthplace, Staunton, Virginia. The likeness of Wilson was reproduced from a drawing by F. Graham Cootes. The portrait and the frame were designed by Victor S. McCloskey, Jr., and engraved by Richard M. Bower. The simple picture-frame effect and the stamp’s rose carmine ink make it a stunning portrait of the nation's twenty-eighth president.

The Woodrow Wilson Centennial Commission was formed to celebrate what would have been Wilson’s 100th birthday on December 28, 1956. January's first day ceremony launched the many celebrations that took place in 1956. A New York Times editorial about the 100th anniversary of Wilson's birth noted that his convictions and beliefs were designed “to create and protect equality of opportunity and a better life for all the American people.” Wilson’s dream of the League of Nations failed but ultimately culminated in the founding of the United Nations.

The Wilson stamp is frequently seen on certified mail. It was used with the new 15-cent certified mail stamp to pay the fee for a return receipt. The Post Office Department initiated Certified Mail service in 1956.

Steven J. Rod

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8-cent General John Pershing single

On November 17, 1961, the Post Office Department replaced the 8-cent Liberty stamp with an 8-cent stamp commemorating General John. J. Pershing (1860-1948). It has been argued that this stamp is not actually in the Liberty Series but was intended as the first issuance of a new series of definitives, which never materialized. Its announcement stated that “this stamp will ultimately replace the 8-cent Statue of Liberty design, which now appears also on the 3-cent and 11-cent regular denominations.”

The portrait of Pershing is facing left and to the right of center, a very different design from all other portraits featured in the Liberty series. Pershing is shown in full dress uniform with four stars on his shoulder. Though entitled to wear five stars, Pershing always chose to wear only four.

A photograph of a color reproduction of an oil painting by J.F.Boucher was utilized for the design, which was executed by Robert J. Jones at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The official color of the stamp in its first day of issue announcement was noted as "khaki" but is now listed as "brown" in the Scott Catalogue.

On September 3, 1917, Pershing was given the title 'General of the Armies of the United States'. At the close of World War I, he became chief of staff of the U.S. Army. He was asked to consider running for the presidency in 1920 and again in 1924, but he steadfastly refused.

In honor of Pershing's service to his country, the Pershing tank and Pershing missile were later named after him. The 2nd Brigade of the U.S. 1st Cavalry Division is nicknamed 'Black Jack', which was Pershing’s nickname. Pershing County in the state of Nevada is named in his honor.

Steven J. Rod

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8-cent Statue of Liberty single

This 8-cent stamp featuring the Statue of Liberty was the first stamp issued in the new 'ordinary series' on April 8, 1954. It was unique because it was the first bi-colored definitive in a denomination under 1-dollar, and it was the first definitive issue to carry the words “In God We Trust.”

The 8-cent Liberty was produced both on the rotary and flat plate presses, and both versions were released on the same day. Four years later, Postmaster Arthur Summerfeld announced a third version of the stamp, to be released on March 22, 1958, printed on the new Giori press. The Giori could print a two-color stamp with a single pass through the press. The earlier stamps printed on both the rotary and flat plate presses required a separate feed through the press for each color. The earlier issues all had two plate numbers, one for each color, while the 1958 Giori-printed issue has only one plate number.

On the 8-cent Liberty, the torch is slightly dropped and the wording “U.S. Postage” is no longer broken by the torch.

The stamp was designed by Charles R. Chickering, and four different engravers were responsible for frame, the lettering, and the Statue of Liberty. The first day of issue ceremony was heralded by the Post Office Department as “the biggest ceremony of its kind in the history of the United States Post Office Department. . . ." Further, "It will set the stage . . . for the introduction of the nation’s first regular stamp bearing a religious significance.” The twenty-minute ceremony was covered on a unique national television hook-up throughout the forty-eight states.

It was considered a particular point of pride by the Post Office Department that this stamp would be used primarily to send letters abroad, eight cents being the one-ounce rate for international letters. “It will be our postal ambassador,” Postmaster General Summerfeld noted.

Issuance of the original 8-cent stamp with the “In God We Trust” motto preceded establishment of those words as a national motto by over two years. Public Law, 851, was approved by Congress July 30, 1956.

Steven J. Rod

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9-cent The Alamo single

The announcement for the issuance of the 9-cent stamp noted that the stamp features a view of the Alamo reproduced from a drawing by an artist at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. “The artist’s concept portrays the Spanish influence in architectural design, as well as the effects of time and erosion.” The stamp was issued on June 14, 1956, at San Antonio, Texas. It was designed by Charles R. Chickering.

Assistant Postmaster General Albert J. Robertson was the primary speaker at the first day ceremony. He remarked that the Alamo is “among the more important of our historical shrines. . . . The defense of the Alamo is high on the list of the truly great American feats of courage,” he stated. Americans laid down their lives in the name of liberty and freedom in defending the Alamo, and ever since this great architectural treasure has been an important symbol of America’s courageous love of freedom.

The 9-cent Alamo was used to meet the three-ounce first-class domestic letter rate.

Steven J. Rod

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10-cent Independence Hall single

The Post Office Department announced that the eighteenth and final stamp of the Liberty Series would be issued on July 4, 1956, in conjunction with the 180th national observance of Independence Day. Although planned as the final stamp in the Liberty Series, eight more issues were eventually added.

The10-cent Independence Hall issue of the Liberty Series was issued at a special ceremony at Independence Square in Philadelphia. The view features the building as seen from Independence Square. It was designed by Charles R. Chickering, who prepared an original drawing. The engravers were Charles L. Brooks and George L. Huber of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

Originally built as the Pennsylvania Capitol, Independence Hall dates to 1732, when construction began. Construction stretched over twenty years, and the Capitol was completed in 1753. The Second Continental Congress met in the building from 1775 through 1783, representatives from the thirteen colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence there on July 4, 1776, and the drafting and signing of the United States Constitution occurred there in 1787. In 1861 President Abraham Lincoln, upon visiting Independence Hall, declared “I am filled with deep emotion at finding myself standing in this place, where were collected together the wisdom, the patriotism, the devotion to principle, from which sprang the institutions under which we live.”

Steven J. Rod

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11-cent Statue of Liberty single

On July 1, 1961, a new international surface mail rate went into effect for which there was no single stamp available. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing decided to use the existing design of the 3-cent and 8-cent Liberty stamps to produce an 11-cent stamp. The Bureau reversed the colors of 8-cent stamp for the 11-cent bi-colored Liberty, producing a blue Statue of Liberty with a red frame.

The 11-cent stamp was issued on June 15, 1961, at the convention of the International Union of Local Authorities, held in Washington D.C., to whose audience the deputy postmaster general proclaimed, “This stamp reaffirms to all the nations of the world, friends and enemies alike, the United States’ determination to preserve the American tradition of political and religious freedom.”

Charles R. Chickering of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing designed the stamp from an original drawing, and Matthew D. Fenton and Howard F. Sharpless engraved the stamp.

Steven J. Rod

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12-cent Benjamin Harrison single

President Benjamin Harrison (1833-1901), the nation's twenty-third president, is featured on the 12-cent Liberty stamp issued on June 6, 1959, at Oxford, Ohio. Oxford is the home of Miami University, of which Harrison was one of the most distinguished alumni.

The likeness of Harrison was reproduced from a photograph taken by Charles Parker. Victor S. McCloskey, Jr., designed the portrait and lettering, and Charles R. Chickering the frame.

The new 12-cent stamp covered the postage for a three-ounce domestic letter. The rates had been in effect since August 1, 1958.

Harrison was the grandson of William Henry Harrison, the nation's ninth President. He became a very capable lawyer and served with distinction in the Civil War, including the battles at Kennesaw Mountain, Peach Tree Creek, and Nashville. After serving in the U.S. Senate, Harrison was selected as the presidential candidate by the Republican Party in 1888. He defeated Grover Cleveland.

Steven J. Rod

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15-cent John Jay single

The 15-cent issue features a portrait of John Jay, the Supreme Court's first chief justice. The stamp was first available on Jay's birth anniversary, December 12, 1958. It was issued in the Supreme Court building with Chief Justice Earl Warren presiding. The stamp features a likeness of Jay based on a painting by Gilbert Stuart which hangs at the national Gallery of Art. Charles R. Chickering and Victor S. McCloskey, Jr., of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing collaborated to design the stamp.

John Jay was born in New York City on December 12, 1745, and went on to serve as that state's chief justice. He was a member of the Continental Congress and then its president (1778-1779). George Washington appointed Jay chief justice of the Supreme Court in 1789, a position he held until 1795. He retired from public life at 57, but before doing so he served two terms as governor of New York.

The 15-cent stamp met the international airmail rate to Europe, and starting on January 7, 1963, it also met the three-ounce domestic first-class rate.

Steven J. Rod

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20-cent Monticello single

The 20-cent stamp features the third shrine to be featured in the series—Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826). It was issued at Monticello, located in Charlottesville, Virginia, on April 13, 1956, the 212th anniversary of his birth.

The stamp shows the west front or “Garden Front” of Jefferson’s home, considered the most distinctive and characteristic view of this beloved national shrine. The stamp was designed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing’s William K. Shrage.

Postmaster General Arthur E. Summerfeld was the main speaker at the first day ceremony, where he noted that "Monticello reflects the living evidence of the inner life of Jefferson. The residence has strength and dignity. It possesses deep artistic and cultural values. It has noble simplicity. It is highly practical and warmly livable.” Mr. Summerfeld closed his talk with the comment that “Monticello has long been a symbol of our leadership for freedom. And now this new stamp will herald to all the world our continued dedication to human freedom.”

Steven J. Rod

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25-cent Paul Revere single

The likeness of Paul Revere is featured on the 25-cent stamp. The image was reproduced from a photoprint of the Gilbert Stuart portrait of 1813 provided by the National Collection of Fine Arts. The stamp was issued at Boston, Massachusetts, on April 18, 1958, on the anniversary of his famous ride.

Paul Revere is best known for his ride from Charlestown to Lexington on April 18, 1775, to warn the people that the British were on the march. This ride was immortalized by Longfellow in his poem “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.”

Seven years after its initial issuance, the final issue of the Liberty series was the 25-cent Paul Revere in coiled rolls, available on February 25, 1965, at Boston. While most of Liberties went off sale by the mid-1970s, this popular vending machine stamp was removed from sale on April 30, 1987. It was then reissued when the first-class domestic rate went to twenty-five cents in 1988. It has the distinction of being the only U.S. definitive to be reissued two decades after its debut in order to fulfill the need of a newly-established domestic first-class letter rate.

Steven J. Rod

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30-cent Robert E. Lee single

The 30-cent stamp portrays Robert E. Lee (1807-1870). The image was inspired by two prints obtained at the Library of Congress—a Brady print that features Lee in uniform was used for his facial features, and a negative owned by L.C. Handy of Washington, D.C., was used for Lee's civilian attire.

The stamp was first available on September 21, 1955, at Norfolk, Virginia. There were many Lee enthusiasts who went to great lengths to fly stamps to Alexandria, Virginia, to have them postmarked on the date so that they could have first day covers from Lee’s birthplace.

Lee was born on January 19, 1807, and many people in the South celebrate “Robert E. Lee Day” on January 19. Lee was a career army officer and a leader of the Confederate forces during the American Civil War. He eventually commanded all Confederate armies as general-in-chief. His victories against superior forces in an ultimately losing cause won him enduring fame and respect. After the war, he urged sectional reconciliation. He spent his final years as president of the college that would come to bear his name.

Steven J. Rod

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40-cent John Marshall single

The likeness of John Marshall (1755-1835) that appears on this issue was reproduced from a photograph taken in 1955 by Harris and Ewing of a painting by Rembrandt Peale. Peale's painting is displayed in a hearing room of the Supreme Court building. The stamp was placed on sale on September 24, 1955, on the 200th anniversary of John Marshall's birth.

This was the first 40-cent stamp ever issued by the United States. The Post Office Department considered it a key denomination in its plan to assure that every letter could be correctly franked with no more than two stamps. The 40-cent stamp could also be used as a single stamp on a letter to pay the minimum indemnity registry fee until July 1, 1957.

Marshall was the fourth chief justice of the United States, serving from February 4, 1801, until his death in 1835. An ardent federalist, he had previously served in a variety of political offices. He served in the United States House of Representatives from March 4, 1799, until June 7, 1800, and as secretary of state from June 6, 1800, until March 4, 1801. President John Adams, who appointed Marshall, recognized the fact that he could extend his influence far beyond his tenure as president by appointing a chief justice who shared his political views.

Steven J. Rod

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50-cent Susan B. Anthony single

An image of Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) appears on the 50-cent stamp. Charles. R. Checkering engraved Anthony's portrait, inspired by an original photograph furnished by the Library of Congress. The Post Office Department issued the stamp exactly fifty years after Anthony met with President Theodore Roosevelt in Washington, D.C., about submitting a suffrage amendment to Congress. The stamp was released at Louisville, Kentucky, on August 25, 1955.

Susan B. Anthony was born to Quaker parents on February 15 1820, at Adams, Massachusetts. She learned to read and write by the time she was three. She devoted most of her adult life to campaigning for woman's suffrage.

The 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees all American women the right to vote. Congress passed the amendment on June 4, 1919, and ratified it on August 18, 1920. Very few of its early supporters, including Susan B. Anthony, lived to see final victory in 1920. Although Anthony had died thirteen years earlier, the 19th amendment is known as “The Susan B. Anthony Amendment”.

Roger S. Brody

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$1 Patrick Henry single

The 1-dollar stamp features Patrick Henry (1736-1799) with a “simple picture frame effect,” which is common to many of the Liberty Series portrait stamps. A portrait by American artist Alonzo Chappel (1828-1887) inspired the image of Henry.

The stamp was released on October 7, 1955, at Joplin, Missouri. Though Patrick Henry was born, reared, and died in Virginia and served as governor of that state for three terms, the Post Office Department issued the stamp at a major stamp convention in Joplin. In explaining the choice, the speaker said, "What he did was done for all America, and therefore belongs to all America.”

A prominent figure during era of the American Revolution, Patrick Henry is remembered, in part, for his stirring oratory. He has inspired Americans for over 250 hundred years with his historic challenge, “Give me Liberty, or give me Death!” In addition to this most famous quote, he wrote profusely on the notion of freedom throughout his life. For instance, he wrote, “Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined.”

The stamp was designed by Charles R. Chickering and Victor McCloskey, Jr., of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. It was engraved Arthur W. Dintaman, Charles A. Brooks, and John S. Edmondson of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

Steven J. Rod

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$5 Alexander Hamilton single

The 5-dollar stamp featuring a portrait of Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804) was issued on March 19, 1956. Hamilton served as the first secretary of the U.S. treasury and was an author of the Federalist Papers. A painting by John Trumbull displayed at the National Gallery of Art inspired the vignette, which Charles A. Brooks engraved. It is often considered one of the most beautiful portrait stamps of the twentieth century.

The first post office release about the new 5-dollar stamp noted the stamp was being produced on the rotary press. A corrected announcement was soon made, noting that the stamp was one of the last United States stamps produced on the flat plate press.

The city of Paterson, New Jersey, held a huge celebration to greet the stamp on its first day of issue. It was Hamilton who founded Paterson, America's first industrial city. He secured a charter from the New Jersey legislature on November 22, 1791, for the Society of Useful Manufacturers that had been established in Paterson. The date of issue was also the birth date of Paterson’s charter, created by the New Jersey legislature on March 19, 1792.

The search for a 5-dollar Alexander Hamilton Liberty Series stamp on a commercially-used cover (envelope) is one of the great challenges of modern postal history collecting. The stamp was used primarily on bank tags or parcel labels to meet the registry rates of the accompanying bank bags and securities packages. Twelve commercially-used covers are known at this time.

Steven J. Rod

About U.S. Stamps

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