U.S. # 300
Series of 1902 - Second Bureau Series
- Ornate new design introduced to promote mail awareness
- First time stamp subject’s name and birth and death dates appear
- Used as an educational tool for new arrivals to the US
Stamp Category: Definitive
Set: Part of 15-stamp Second Bureau Series of 1902-03
Value: One-cent denomination paid the postcard and circular rate
First Day of Issue: February 3rd, 1903
First Day City: None
Quantity Issued: 11 billion+
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Flat-plate printing
Format: Printed in sheets of 400 stamps 20 by 20, cut into panes of 100, 10 by 10.
Issued in sheet, coil, and booklet formats.
Color: Blue-green. Shades exist.
Watermark: Double-line USPS
Why the stamp was issued: The stamp was issued as part of the new set to promote mail awareness. The Post Office Department wanted new definitive stamps as attractive as the 1901 Pan-American commemoratives to replace the stamps in use since 1890.
About the stamp design: The central vignette shows Benjamin Franklin facing one quarter right. Inspired by a painting by J.B. Longacre, now in the State Capital at Harrisburg, PA. Each side shows a seated child, covered at the waist with flowing drapery. Each holds an electric lightbulb. The top of the stamp has the stamp series title Series 1902 United States of America. Under the portrait, 1906 FRANKLIN 1790, birth year, name, and year of death. Large numeral 1 left and right, at bottom POSTAGE ONE CENT.
Special design details: Each child has a U.S. shield above their head.
About the printing process: Printed in sheets of 400. The full sheet of engraved stamps has eight plate numbers, two at the top of the sheet, two at left, two at bottom and two at right. Four arrows in the center of the selvage, top, left, bottom, right. The arrows created a ‘center-line’ block in the center of the sheet. The sheet was cut into pane of 100 stamps, 10 by 10, and has 19 stamps with straight edges.
About the set: The set marked a lot of firsts, including the first time an American woman was featured on a US postage stamp. That honor went to the nation’s first First Lady – Martha Washington. The set also was the first time 23rd US President Benjamin Harrison appeared on a stamp as well as Admiral David Farragut. Another innovation was the inclusion of the names and birth/death dates of each stamp subject. This was done in part to help educate the huge number of immigrants arriving in America during this period. Only three of the stamps were actually issued in 1902, and #300 wasn’t one of them – appearing in early 1903.
History the stamp represents: In addition to establishing the American colonies’ postal system, and later becoming our first postmaster general, Benjamin Franklin was one of our country’s greatest patriots and founding fathers. His diplomacy and negotiating skills were pivotal in persuading France to become our ally in the fight against the British. This profoundly affected the outcome of the American Revolution. Franklin also contributed significantly to the creation of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. He signed both, as well as the Treaty of Alliance with France, and the Treaty of Paris, which ended the American Revolution. No other statesman had the honor of signing of all of these four pivotal documents. And few played as important a role as Benjamin Franklin in the events which led to their signing.