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1903
Postage Stamps of the United States First Issued in 1903
President: Theodore Roosevelt · Postmaster General: Henry C. Payne
Domestic Letter Rate: 2¢ per oz. · Postcard Rate: 1¢ · Registry Fee: 8¢ · Foreign Rate: 5¢

The Designs of the Regular Issues First Issued in 1903 - Series of 1902
400 Subject Plates - Flat Plate - Perf 12 - Double-line Watermark
Designer: R. Ostrander Smith (all except 2¢ Shield) - C.A. Huston (2¢ Shield only) - See also: Engravers

2¢ "Flag" Design 5¢ Lincoln 1¢ Franklin 4¢ Grant

10¢ Webster 3¢ Jackson 6¢ Garfield 2¢ Washington - "Shield"

200 Subject Plates - Flat Plate - Perf 12 - Double-line Watermark
 the 15¢ was also printed on 400 Subject Plates

50¢ Jefferson 15¢ Clay $1 Farragut

$2 Madison $5 Marshall

Engravers of the 1902 Series Stamps First Issued in 1903
M.W. Baldwin: Portrait on the 5¢ and 10¢ · G.F.C. Smillie: Portrait on the 1¢, 2¢ (both), 3¢, 4¢, 6¢, 50¢, $2, and $5
Lyman F. Ellis: Letters & Numerals on the 1¢, 4¢, 5¢, 6¢(?), 10¢(?) and $2 · M. Weeks: Letters & Numerals on the 3¢
George U. Rose: Letters & Numerals on the 2¢ (flag & Shield), 3¢, 4¢, 5¢, 6¢(?), 10¢(?), 50¢, $2, $5
Robert Ponickau: Frame on the 1¢, 2¢ (flag & Shield), 3¢, 4¢, 5¢, 6¢(?), 10¢(?), 50¢, $2, $5

Notes: The complexity of this Series is made evident by the large number of engravers involved in the production of the dies for these stamps. Our information on the 6¢ and 10¢ stamps is incomplete and we could find no information at all on the 15¢ and the $1 stamps in either Johl or Brazer's work.

The Designs of the Series of 1902 - Issued in 1903

Flush with the success of the Pan-American stamps of 1901, the Post Office Department decided to issue a set of new designs for the ordinary postage stamps in 1902. Although all of the stamps in this series are inscribed "Series 1902", only two of the stamps were actually issued in 1902, with the balance being issued in 1903. The Series has some of the most intricate, if not ornate, designs ever placed on U.S. postage stamps. Many collectors found the stamps of this Series to be the most beautiful ever made by the U.S., but not all were pleased and there were many complaints concerning the designs of the various frames. In fact, on the two cent stamp the frame was redesigned completely from the flag design to the shield design; compare the two 2¢ stamps above.

Lincoln and Grant were reversed from their positions on the four and five cent stamps of the First Bureau Issues of 1890, giving Lincoln a slightly higher status in that five cents was the rate for foreign letters. The same prominent Americans appeared in their usual denominations and colors, with the exception that General Sherman was replaced on the eight cent stamp by Martha Washington and Commodore Perry was replaced on the $1 stamp by Admiral Farragut. In addition, a new thirteen cent stamp was added to pay the registry and letter fee for foreign letters.

The one, two, four and five cent stamps were the first U.S. stamps to be issued in coil format, and are considered by many to be experimental in nature. Nonetheless, these coils represent some of the great rarities of 20th century philately. All four of these stamps were issued imperforate to private companies, with the understanding that the stamps were to be privately perforated for use in their respective stamp vending machines. The extremely scarce four cent, Scott 314A is only known with Schermack Type III perforations. See: Private Perforations - Vending and Affixing Machine Perforations on U.S. Stamps, for more on this subject.

Identification of the stamps in this series is fairly straightforward, with the exception of the $2 and $5 stamps, which are sometimes confused with the perf 10 stamps. The supply of these issues, even with the incredibly low quantities issued, was sufficient to meet needs until 1917, well into the production of the Washington Franklins. America was involved in World War I and rather than redesign new stamps for the two and five dollar stamps, the existing plates were used to make more stamps. The plates were still sound since they had seen such little production, but by 1917 the perforation had changed from perf 12 to perf 10. The Post Office Department did not regard the change in perforation as a new issue, but to collectors the two are entirely different animals. Most collectors include the perf 12 stamps with the Second Bureau issues of 1902 and the perf 10 stamps, Scott 479 and 480, with the Third Bureau Washington Franklins, although it could very well be argued that the perf 10 stamps are merely varieties of the perf 12 stamps and should be included with the Series of 1902 (as indeed the Post Office does). There are other differences between the stamps, primarily in the color of ink used and the watermark or lack thereof; the $5 perf 12 stamp is decidedly darker green than its perf 10 counterpart, never the light yellow green of the perf 10. The color may provide a quick clue as to authenticity of the perf 12 five dollar stamp. Since the perf 12 stamps were printed before the change to unwatermarked paper and the two and five dollar perf 10 stamps were printed after the change, authentication is a simple matter, the perf 12 stamp must be printed on watermarked paper to be authentic.

The following postage stamp varieties were first issued by the U.S. in 1903:
Scott 300 - 1¢ Franklin - Issue Date: Feb. 3(?), 1903 - over 10 billion issued - EDU: 2/3/03
Scott 301 - 2¢ Washington - "Flag" Design· Issued: 1/22/03 - over 3 billion issued- EDU: 2/2/03
Scott 301 - 2¢ Washington - "Flag" Design of 1902 Booklet (pane) - EDU: 3/28/03 (single); 4/4/03 (pane)
Scott 302 - 3¢ Jackson - Issued: 2/11(?)/03 - 276,212,074 issued - EDU: 3/19/03
Scott 303 - 4¢ Grant - Issued: 2/10(?)/03 - over 340 million issued - EDU: 3/13/03  
Scott 304 - 5¢ Lincoln - Issued: 1/20(?)/03 - about 550 million issued - EDU: 2/9/03  
Scott 305 - 6¢ Garfield - Issued: 2/20(?)/03 - 117,567,474 issued - EDU: 5/8/03 
Scott 307 - 10¢ Webster - Issued: 2/5(?)/03 - 260,010,574 issued - EDU: 3/12/03 
Scott 309 - 15¢ Clay - Issued: 5/27/03 - 41,205,754 issued - EDU: 9/11/03 (on cover)  
Scott 310 - 50¢ Jefferson - Issued: 3/23/03 - 2,651,774 issued - EDU: 10/6/03  
Scott 311 - $1 Farragut - Issued: 6/5/03 - 504,374 issued - EDU: 9/30/03
Scott 312 - $2 Madison - Issued: 6/5/03 - 37,872 issued - EDU: 2/17/04 
Scott 313 - $5 Marshall - Issued: 6/5/03 - 49,211 issued - EDU: 2/17/04 
Scott 319 - 2¢ Washington "Shield" Design - Issued: 11/12/03 - over 20 billion issued - EDU: 11/19/03
Scott 319 - 2¢ Washington Design of 1903 Booklet (pane) - EDU: 1/22/04 (single)

No new varieties of U.S. commemorative stamps were issued in 1903
No new varieties of U.S. Special Delivery stamps were issued in 1903
No new varieties of U.S. Postage Due stamps were issued in 1903



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