8/08/2012 United States
This iconic series was issued in advance of Chicago’s 1893 World Columbian Exposition, an International World Fair celebrating the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ 1492 arrival in the New World. The series was issued by the government to promote the event with illustrated postal stationery and commemorative coinage also issued.
The series comprised 16 stamps with values from 1c to $5 illustrating the life and times of Christopher Columbus with the engraving done by Alfred Jones and Charles Skinner of the American Bank Note Company, most of the designs from paintings and engravings of the era except the $5 portrait which was commissioned by the Treasury and used for both the stamp and $½ coin. Printed in sheets of 100, the issue was eagerly awaited and crowds formed at Post Offices to buy the new stamps.
The series face value was particularly high at $16.34c, the equivalent of around $2000 in today’s money, previous issues from the 1850s onwards had only run to 90c. However such was the popularity of the issue that they become instantly sought after by both collectors and the general public and they remain today a benchmark in determining the “level” of any US stamp collection and are instantly recognizable by philatelists around the world.