Postal Facts and Tidits

Sarah Bracha
PTF Clerk

I was visiting with a customer the other day about stamps. We were looking at the recent Kennedy stamps, and they asked me if all the U.S. Presidents have been featured on postage stamps. I did not have a ready answer, so I told them I would research that and write an article. Here goes.

I found engraved portrayals of U.S. Presidents were the only designs found on U.S. postage from 1847 to 1869 – 22 years! There was one exception – Benjamin Franklin. His historical stature is definitely comparable to that of a president though. This appearance is acknowledgement of his role as the first U.S. Postmaster General. 

During this 22-year period, the Post Office Department issued various postage stamps bearing the depictions of George Washington foremost, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, and Abraham Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln first appeared in 1866, one year after his death. 

After 22 years of issuing stamps with only presidents and Franklin, the Post Office Department tried issuing a series of 11 postage stamps that were abruptly different from the previous stamps. One stamp featured a horse, another a locomotive, while others depicted non-presidential themes. Washington and Lincoln were only found once in this series of 11 stamps. These designs were low par and with poor image quality. As a result, this pictographic series was met with general disdain and proved so unpopular the issues were only sold for a year and remaining stock was pulled from post offices across the United States.

In 1870 the Post Office resumed printing postage with the portraits of American Presidents and Franklin but also added other famous Americans such as Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and Alexander Hamilton.

George Washington, the first president, appears on U.S. postage more than any other president. The engraved images of Washington found on the earliest issues of postage definitely set the precedent. In virtually every U.S. definitive stamp series offered between 1851 and 1932, 81 years, Washington appeared on the normal letter-rate value. Other presidents, statesmen, and famous Americans were confined to the less commonly used denominations. 

Since the first U.S. postage stamp was issued by the U.S. Post Office Department, there have been more examples of George Washington appearing on postage than all other American presidents combined, including Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, and Abraham Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln is the second most depicted U.S. President on postage. 

Andrew Jackson was featured on two confederate stamps before he was featured on U.S. Post Office Department issued postage. 

As of 2016, every U.S. president who is deceased has appeared on at least one U.S. postage stamp. All but Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford have appeared on at least two. On April 26, 1995, one year and four days after his death, the Postal Service honored Richard Nixon with the issuance of a 32-cent commemorative stamp, first released in Yorba Linda, California, the place of his birth, to date the only U.S. stamp depicting Nixon. 

A 41-cent Gerald Ford memorial commemorative stamp was issued on August 31, 2007, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Palm Springs, California.

Presidents featured on postage stamps is still a popular theme with new yearly releases. I am sure we can look forward to more such stamps as the years go by.  



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