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U.S. Presidents on U.S. postage stamps
American Presidents have been honored with postage stamps for a long time. It was and remains one of the main themes for philatelic issues especially in the USA. When the U.S. Post Office released its first two postage stamps in 1847, George Washington, along with Benjamin Franklin, were the two subjects depicted on these premier issues. First Presidents stamp issues were definitive stamps but later commemorative items began to appear.
The presidential theme in stamp designs would continue as the decades passed. In each period of the American history many of variations of the presidents` portrait could be seen on the face of US postage stamps. The portrayals of U.S. Presidents on U.S. postage have remained a significant subject and design theme on definitive postage throughout most of U.S. stamp issuance history.
The various stamps bearing the depictions of presidents include such outstanding politicians as George Washington foremost, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln etc. It should be noticed that USA Post Office had a tradition of issuing stamps honoring dead or seriously ill presidents. Later the tradition was changed and the portraits of American presidents made their first appearances on U.S. postage for very different reasons.
Among the first definitive stamps that appeared in the United States were items depicting George Washington, along with that of Benjamin Franklin appeared on July 1 of 1847. Thomas Jefferson first appeared on U.S. postage in March 1856, nine years after the first issues were released. Only 15 years later Andrew Jackson was honored with a special postage stamp. Abraham Lincoln appeared for the first time on a U.S. postage stamp on April 14, 1866, on occasion of the first anniversary of his death. With a run of history newly selected presidents began to be commemorated with different philatelic issues.
1. George Washington
The Washington Franklin Issues were unique in the sense that these subjects were the only ones found on definitive stamps for more than a decade. Later the other variety of items with portrayals of George Washington became the theme of the new philatelic releases.
2. John Adams
John Adams was the second president of the United States and the second long-serving leader who was depicted on a stamp. His portrait firstly appeared on the philatelic item on June 3, 1938 - 2-cent John Adams stamp.
As a model for this postage stamp issue was taken Daniel Chester French's marble bust of Adams displayed in the US Capitol's Senate Gallery.
3. Thomas Jefferson
It should be noticed that Thomas Jefferson wasn't so popular politician that was depicted on a postage stamp.
The first issue honoring Jefferson was issued in 1856 - 5-cent Thomas Jefferson stamp, only nine years after the Post Office issued its first two stamps of Washington and Franklin in 1847. (Before this time hand-stamps were used to mark and confirm payment of postage.)
Unlike other famous presidents Jefferson appeared on just two commemorative issues, one in 1904 - LOUISIANA PURCHASE EXPOSITION - Thomas Jefferson stamp, the other on the AMERIPEX presidential issue of 1986 - Thomas Jefferson 1986 AMERIPEX stamp.
4. James Madison
James Madison was the fourth President of the United States, served from 1809–1817. It is known that Madison was honored with three Definitive issues.
It was issued a 2-dollar Madison stamp based on the engraving of Madison after his portrayal by Gilbert Stuart.
The second one is the dark blue 2-dollar Madison stamp issued June 5, 1903 after the image designed by R. Ostrander Smith.
Only in 2001 James Madison was honored with a commemorative stamp - 34c Madison stamp.
5. James Monroe
James Monroe was the fifth President of the United States who served two terms from 1817 to 1825. It is unusual that Monroe wasn't honored with definitive issues.
His first stamp was commemorative 3c stamp of 1904 - LOUISIANA PURCHASE EXPOSITION - James Monroe stamp.
This item contains Monroe's image that was engraved George F.C. Simille, modeled after a painting by John Vanderlyn which now hangs in City Hall, New York City. The five stamps of this set represent the first presidential images ever to appear on U.S. commemorative issues.
Later other commemorative regular and presidential stamp issues honoring James Monroe appeared.
6. John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams was the sixth President of the United States. The item commemorated this president based on the engraved image of Adams appeared in 1938 and was a part of the special Presidential Series - 6-cent John Quincy Adams stamp.
The other stamp depicting Adams was part of the Ameripex '86 issue, which commemorated all past deceased American Presidents.
7. Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States. He was not only an outstanding politician but also the commander of the American forces at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815.
The peculiarity of the first stamp that was issued to honor Andrew Jackson is that it was designed and put into circulation 18 years after his death (in 1863) - 2c Andrew Jackson 1863 stamp. The stamp depicts a bust of the president sculpted Hiram Powers.
The 3c issue of 1894 features an image of Jackson similar to those on the issues of 1873 and 1883, taken from a bust by Hiram Powers - 3c Andrew Jackson 1894 stamp.
Later the US Post released a great variety of commemorative and regular issues honoring Andrew Jackson.
8. Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren was the eighth President of the United States (from 1837 to 1841). He was the first US President to be born an American citizen.
The first stamp issued in honor of Van Burren was part of the Presidential Series of 1938. The the 8-cent olive green denomination stamp depicts the sculpted bust of Van Buren that is on display in the US Capitol's Senate Gallery - 8c Martin Van Buren 1938 stamp.
9. William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison was the ninth President of the United States and simultaneously served in the U.S. Army as an officer. Moreover William Harrison got the title of a hero in the War of 1812, he was the first president to die in office.
The first issue commemorating the president was honored in 1938. It was the 9-cent pink 1938 William Henry Harrison stamp, Presidential Series issue that depicte Harrison's bust.
The other commemorative stamp honoring William Harrison was released on occasion of the 150th anniversary of Indiana statehood - INDIANA TERRITORY SESQUICENTENNIAL 3c William Henry Harrison stamp.
The president also appeared on the AMERIPEX presidential commemorative issues of 1986.
10. John Tyler
John Tyler was the tenth President of the United States (1841–1845) and the first who assumed the office immediately after the death of his predecessor.
A stamp dedicated to Tyler appeared in 1938 and had the orange-brown 10-cent denomination - 10c John Tyler stamp. The image of Tyler taken for the stamp was modeled after a bust by John Keck.
The second item commemorating the president was issued in 1986, a 22-cent stamp in the AMERIPEX presidential issue - John Tyler 1986 AMERIPEX stamp.
11. James K. Polk
James Knox Polk was the 11th President of the United States (1845–1849). He was the Speaker of the House and Governor of Tennessee before being elected as a president. Polk was a devoted supporter and follower of Andrew Jackson and is considered to be the last strong pre-Civil war leader.
The item depicting James Polk appeared on a stamp in 1938. The item had the 11-cent denomination and was the part of Presidential Series - 11c James K. Polk stamp. Polk's profile on the stamp was designed after a medal struck by the US Mint.
The other items commemorating Polk were put into circulation in 1986 and in 1995 - 32c James Polk 1995 stamp.
12. Zachary Taylor
Zachary Taylor was the 12th President of the United States and an American military leader. Taylor was the first president elected as a president without having held any previous elected office. He also got the title of the national hero of the Mexican-American War. This fame led him to the Presidency.
Zachary Taylor was honored with three regular issues, a special stamp that was a part of the Presidential Series and two commemorative items that have a particular value for philatelists.
The first Taylor stamp was issued in 1875 and re-issued in 1879 and special-printed in 1880 - 5c Zachary Taylor stamp.
The second Taylor appears on the 12-cent stamp of the 1938 Presidential Series - 12c Zachary Taylor stamp.
13. Millard Fillmore
Millard Fillmore was the 13th President of the United States (1850 until 1853). Firstly he was the Vice President and after the death of his predecessor he immediately assumed the Office. As such Fillmore was never actually elected president, and was the last member of the Whig Party to hold that office.
The first stamp honoring appeared in 1938 and had the 13c denomination in that series - 13c Millard Fillmore stamp. On a stamp the engraved image of Fillmore can be seen that was modeled after a bust by Robert Cushing.
The other stamp was released in 1986 in AMERIPEX.
14. Franklin Pierce
Before Franklin Pierce having been elected as a president he was a successful American politician and lawyer. Then he became the 14th President of the United States, serving from 1853 to 1857.
The first the 14c issue honoring Pierce appeared in 1938 modelled after medal struck by the US Mint - 14c Franklin Pierce stamp.
The only commemorative stamp honoring Pierce was released in AMERIPEX presidential issue on May 22, 1986.
15. James Buchanan
James Buchanan was the 15th President of the United States (1857-1861) and the last President to be born in the 18th century. Some historians considered Buchanan’s presidency successful as there are evident that he kept a divided nation together for so long while others fault him for failing to avert a civil war.
The image of James Buchanan appeared on the 15-cent issue in 1938 - 15c James Buchanan stamp. The president's portrait was designed after a sculpted bust by Henry Dexter.
The other stamp was issued in 1986 on the AMERIPEX presidential issue.
16. Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from 1861 to 1865. Lincoln's main merit is that he successfully led the United States through its Civil War, bringing an end to slavery.
The president's personality was extremely popular that is why he was honored with the stamp issues quiet often, second only to the number of times George Washington has been featured on the face U.S. Postage.
His first appearance on U.S. Postage came on or near the one-year anniversary of his death. This stamp was released in 1866 and remains to be one for the book for each philately lover - Abraham Lincoln 15c stamp.
The designs of each Lincoln's stamp were made by prominent artists that is why each philatelic issue is special and has high value.
17. Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson was the 17th President of the United States serving from 1865–1869. Johnson is thought to be the most prominent War Democrat. After Lincoln's death Johnson presided over the Reconstruction era of the United States in the four years following the American Civil War. The first item released in honor of Andrew Jackson marked its appearance on October 27, 1938 - 17c Andrew Johnson stamp. It was unusual rose stamp with the engraving of Johnson's profile that was modeled after by a bust.
The only commemorative stamp depicting Johnson was a part of AMERIPEX presidential series and was issued in 1986.
18. Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States and remains the youngest man theretofore elected president. He is also considered to be a national hero of the American Civil War.
Grant appered on a postage stamp until some five years later after his death in 1890. The first Grant postage stamps Engravings were modeled after a photograph by William Kurtz - 5c Ulysses Grant stamp.
Later on he was honored with a number of stamps that have considerable philatelic value.
19. Rutherford B. Hayes
Rutherford Birchard Hayes was the 19th President of the United States. Before being elected as a president, he served in the army and was the Governor of Ohio for two separate terms. During his military service he was wounded on five separate incidents.
The first stamp honoring the 100th anniversary of Hayes' birth was released in 1922 and was the first stamp issued in the Regular Issues of 1922–1931 - 11c Rutherford B. Hayes stamp. The engraving of Hayes is designed after a photograph taken by prominent Civil War photographer Mathew Brady.
20. James Garfield
James Abram Garfield was the 20th President of the United States who is also very famous due to his military merits. He was a president only for 200 days and then was assassinated by by Charles J. Guiteau. An assassin's bullet ended his life and presidency and cut his time in office after serving only 200 days. Garfield was the only sitting member of the House of Representatives to have been elected President.
Garfield is one of the few presidents to appear on a postage stamp more than the usual one or two times. The first issue to honor him was released in 1882. The 5-cent Garfield was the second US postage stamp to honor an assassinated president within the year following his death and is also considered a 'mourning stamp' by many.
21. Chester A. Arthur
Chester Alan Arthur became the 21st President of the United States. Before becoming a president Chester Arthur worked as a lawyer. The engraving of Chester A. Arthur appears on the 21-cent value of the 1938 Presidential Series. The likeness was modeled after a marble bust of Arthur by Augustus Saint-Gaudens in 1891. There is only one commemorative stamp issued in Arthur's honor, one stamp in a series in the AMERIPEX Presidential issue of 1986.
22, 24. Grover Cleveland
Stephen Grover Cleveland was the 22nd and 24th President of the United States. Cleveland is the only president ever to have served two non-consecutive terms. The first stamp issued honoring Cleveland was unveiled in 1923. This precious philatelic item was modeled after the engraving that is listed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing as “unknown.” The 12-cent Cleveland stamp was reprinted and issued again in 1931. The other stamps appeared in 1938 and in 1986.
23. Benjamin Harrison
Benjamin Harrison was the 23rd President of the United States. During American Civil War Benjamin Harrison served as an officer and got a lot of medals. The first stamp honoring Harrison was a commemorative item released in the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois, in 1893. He was also honored with two more definitive issues and two commemorative stamps.
25. William McKinley
William McKinley Jr. was the 25th President of the United States, and the last veteran of the American Civil War to be elected to the office of the President. He was the last American president to serve in the 19th century and was the first President to serve in the 20th century.
William McKinley was honored with a number of issues, among them are three Regular Issues of, 1923, 1926 and 1927, the design, color and denomination of which are the same, and on the 1938 Presidential issue, but first appeared on U.S. Postage in a commemorative issue, the Louisiana Purchase series of 1904. The only commemorative stamp with the image of McKinley appeared in 1986 as part of a series of stamps honoring U.S. Presidents.
26. Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States. After the assassination of William McKinley, Roosevelt was elected as a president at the age of 42, taking office at the youngest age of any US President in history at that time. Roosevelt was a hero of the Spanish–American War. His other merit is that he negotiated an end to the Russo-Japanese War which later won him the Nobel Peace Prize.
Roosevelt was extremely popular figure for postage stamps images. The first issues appeared in 1922 and 1925. Among a great number of other stamps, special philatelic interest has a US Canal Zone stamp honoring Roosevelt was issued in November 1958, the 100th anniversary of his birth. Theodore Roosevelt is the only American president to be honored on a Canal Zone postage stamp.
27. William Howard Taft
William Howard Taft was the 27th President of the United States and later the 10th Chief Justice of the United States. Taft is the only person to have served in both offices.
The first stamp honoring Taft appeared in 1930 and had the denomination of the 4c - 4c William Taft stamp.
One more the 50c Taft stamp was part of the Presidential issue of 1938. The engraved profile of Taft was modeled after a bust sculpted especially for the stamp.
Taft was also depicted on the AMERIPEX presidential issue of 1986.
28. Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States. First known by the slogan "he kept us out of the war", Wilson was the president who declared war on Germany who was attacking all US vessels at high sea.
The first stamp honoring Wilson was released in 1925, immediately after the president died. The image on the stamp is based on the photograph by Wilson`s widow. Woodrow Wilson was honored with three more commemorative issues that remain extremely popular in the world of philately.
29. Warren G. Harding
Warren Gamaliel Harding was the 29th President of the United States. Except of being successful president, he also worked as a journalist and influential publisher.
Harding's unexpected death prompted the issue of 1923, 2c black, unofficially referred to as the Harding memorial Issue, which Clair Aubrey Houston managed to design in one day. Two years later the Post Office issued a similar Harding stamp, using the same die used for the 1923 Harding Memorial issue and whose color this time was brown and whose denomination was now at 1-1/2 cents. Harding appeared on three more commemorative issues released in 1930, 1938 and 1986.
30. Calvin Coolidge
John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. was the 30th President of the United States. He is known to be become the first President of the United States to deliver a political speech on radio, and his 1925 inauguration was the first to be broadcast on radio. Known as "silent Cal" for being a man of few words in private while known for being an excellent orator at the pulpit.
The first issue depicting Coolidge was released in 1938. It was a part of the Presidential series when the Post Office releases a series of stamps, one honoring each deceased president at that time. Coolidge was also honored with 1986 AMERIPEX commemorative issue.
Up through Coolidge, every president (with the two exceptions of Monroe and McKinley) had made his first appearance on U.S. Postage in a definitive series, only later being honored by a commemorative stamp. With subsequent presidents, the reverse is true: all have made their first appearances on commemoratives.
31. Herbert Hoover
Herbert Clark Hoover was the 31st President of the United States. Hoover was a professional mining engineer and author. He is also known to be a great humanitarian and was actively involved into charity. After World War I, Hoover had massive shipments of food sent to feed starving millions in central Europe. He also provided much needed aid to Soviet Russia in 1921 which was then plagued with famine.
However, the historians consider Hover less successful in his career than previous ones as he failed to bring the country out of the great depression that beset the country in 1929, the year Hoover assumed office.
Hoover has never appeared on a U.S. definitive stamp. He was only honored with three commemorative stamps; the first one was released in 1965.
32. Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the 32nd President of the United States. Many historians consider Roosevelt to be one of the most influential leaders in the world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war.
FD Roosevelt was the only American president elected President for more than two terms.
The first series of commemorative stamps was released only two months after Roosevelt's death. As this president was extremely popular in the USA and worldwide, the US regularly issued a number of philatelic items honoring his life and political activity. Each stamp dedicated to Franklin Roosevelt is interesting and valuable in philatelic sphere.
33. Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States. Truman began his political career in politics as a county judge in 1922. He was Franklin D. Roosevelt's running mate in 1944.
The first Harry Truman stamp was put into circulation in 1973. It was created by Bradbury Thompson and the denomination on the 8c. The president was honored with four more commemorative stamps that have particular philatelic value.
34. Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight David Eisenhower was an outstanding general in the United States Army and the 34th President of the United States. He also became the first supreme commander of NATO.
The first commemorative stamp depicting Eisenhower was released in 1969. The peculiarity of this issue is that it was larger than other commemorative stamps of that time. The Eisenhower commemorative issue was designed by Robert J. Jones of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and was fashioned after a photograph taken by Bernie Noble of the Cleveland Press. The president was depicted on four more philatelic items.
35. John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the 35th President of the United States. His statement has been quoted by each generation of the Americans: "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." This saying became a moto for the country. Kennedy was the second-youngest President.
The first stamp honoring the president Kennedy was put on sale in 1964 on occasion of his 47th birthday. It was a memorial stamp that today has a high philatelic value. Kennedy was depicted on two more commemorative stamps.
36. Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson became the 36th president immediately after Kennedy`s assassination in 1963. He won re-election in 1964 with 61 percent of the vote and served until January 20, 1969.
The Lyndon Johnson memorial stamp was released in 1973. It was designed by Bradbury Thompson and has the denomination on 8c. Johnson's last appearance (to date) on a US Postage stamp occurred in 1986 where he is honored on one of a series of stamps called the AMERIPEX issues of 1986.
37. Richard M. Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th president of the United States. In 1968, Nixon won the presidency and was overwhelmingly re-elected in 1972. Nixon was the only person to be elected twice to both the Presidency and the Vice Presidency. He was also the only US President to resign the office.
The only stamp that was devoted to the figure of Richard Nixon was released in 1995 immediately after his death. The issue was designed by Daniel Schwarz and is extremely popular among the philatelists.
38. Gerald Ford
Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr. was the 38th President of the United States. Ford was the first person appointed to the vice-presidency under the terms of the 25th Amendment, filling the vacancy left by Spiro Agnew. He became President upon Richard Nixon's resignation on August 9, 1974.
The only issue commemorated Gerald Ford was put on sale in 2007 and has the status of memorial stamp.
40. Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States and served two terms from 1981 to 1989.
Reagan was depicted on the stamps oftener than his predecessor. The first philatelic item honoring the president was released in 2005 - Ronald Reagan stamps. The image of Reagan was modeled after a portrait painted by award-winning artist Michael J. Deas.
He was honored with two more commemorative issues.
There are currently five living former Presidents of the USA (George H. W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, in order from oldest to youngest), as well as the current President Donald Trump.
They have not been honored with commemorative stamp issues yet because of the USA and some other countries postal rule that consists in the following: the living person cannot be depicted on a commemorative stamp!