1985 22¢ Flag Over Capitol
· First commemorative sized definitive booklet stamp
· Stamp pictures the US flag waving over the US Capitol
· Considered one of the most handsome definitives in years by some collectors
Stamp Category: Definitive
Value: 22¢, rate for first-class mail
First Day of Issue: March 29, 1985
First Day City: Waubeka, Wisconsin
Quantity Issued: 345,091,500
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Engraved
Format: Booklet panes of 5
Perforations: 10 Horizontally
Why the stamp was issued: As a “workhorse” first-class definitive stamp, which carries the majority of America’s first-class mail. The stamp was also issued in the centennial year of the first flag day, in the town where the first Flag Day was held.
About the stamp design: This stamp was designed by Frank J. Waslick and pictures a US flag waving of the US Capitol building. Includes a quote from Lincoln’s Gettysburg address: “Of the people, by the people, for the people.”
This was the first booklet the US ever issued that carried commemorative-sized stamps. The larger size allowed designer Frank Waslick to add to the original artwork that appeared on the smaller definitive-sized stamps (#2114 and #2115). The size of the flag and the capitol remained the same, but the wings of the capitol were extended, and a flagpole and some Washington scenery were added.
This booklet pane was also the first to carry five stamps with no labels. The booklet panes were sold in two ways – as a pane of five stamps and as two panes of five stamps each. The reason for this was that older vending machines could only accept payments up to $1.25, while newer machines could accept more. The BEP also began printing plate numbers on each pane, which allowed them to make one or two pane booklets from the same stock.
First Day City: The First Day ceremony for this stamp was held in Waubeka, Wisconsin. The town was selected because it was the site of the first Flag Day on June 14, 1885.
History the stamp represents: The US flag had appeared as a part of the design of several stamps, such as the Eagle and Shield Pictorial, the Francis Scott Key stamp, and 1952 Lafayette issue. In 1957, the US Post Office announced that it would issue a brand-new stamp with the flag as the central design and appearing in its natural colors.
Upon hearing the news, some collectors and citizens were outraged. Because the stamps would be canceled, they saw it as disrespectful. They flooded the post office with angry letters citing American legal code that prohibited the reproduction of “the national emblem for disloyal or commercial purposes.” Conversely, many people were also happy about the stamp, praising its beautiful colors and patriotic design. The Post Office stated the stamp was meant to be a reminder of America’s heritage and hard-won liberty.
In spite of the controversy, the stamp was issued as planned on July 4, 1957, in Washington, DC. The stamp was first to reproduce the flag in its natural colors in one operation. This was thanks to the new Giori Press the Post Office acquired in 1955. Designed by Gualtiero Giori, it was dubbed the “Giori Press,” and the new machine could produce stamps in two or three different colors, all in one pass. Different rollers each applied a different color. It would be used to print many multicolored stamps throughout the 1960s and 70s.
Exactly two years after this stamp was issued, the Post Office issued another flag stamp, #1132. The new stamp featured a flag with 49 stars, to mark the day the 49-star flag went into use. A rule dating back to 1818 declared stars representing new states that joined the Union would be added to the flag on the first July 4 following. This stamp was issued in Auburn, New York, home of William H. Seward, who had arranged the purchase of Alaska (the 49th state whose star was added in 1959).
Yet another year later, the US flag was again the central focus of a new stamp issued on Independence Day. This stamp, #1153, pictured the new 50-star flag and was issued in Honolulu, Hawaii, America’s 50th state. This stamp would be the first of many to picture the 50-star US flag. In fact, despite the objections of some in 1957, the US flag has become one of the most popular US stamp subjects, with new stamps being issued nearly every year.