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1908
Postage Stamps of the United States First Issued in 1908
President: Theodore Roosevelt Postmaster General: George von L. Meyer
Domestic Letter Rate: 2¢ per oz. Postcard Rate: 1¢ Registry Fee: 8¢ Foreign Rate: 5¢

The New Designs of the Regular Issues First Issued in 1908 - The Third Bureau Issues
Flat Plate - Perf 12 - Double-line Watermark - 400 Subject Plates · The 10¢ through $1 stamps

Issue Date: Nov. 16, 1908
several billion issued
Issue Date: Dec. 2, 1908
several billion issued
Issue Date: Dec. 12, 1908
est. 50 million issued
Issue Date: Dec. 19, 1908
est. 250 million issued

Issue Date: Dec. 24, 1908
est. over 100 million issued
Issue Date: Dec. 24, 1908
est. 200 million issued
Issue Date: Dec. 31, 1908
over 50 million issued

The Washington Franklin Issues - Series of 1908

It is interesting to note that all of the rarer varieties of the Series of 1902 stamps were first issued in 1908 (not illustrated here, but listed at the bottom of this page). In fact, three of these are so rare that census information is kept and is available at: Robert A. Siegel - census information (scroll down to Scott 314A on that page) .

The earliest known use for any of the Washington Franklin stamps is the two cent booklet stamp, Scott 332, on November 16, 1908. In fact, the early plates of both the one and two cent stamps were 180 subject plates, providing three rows of ten panes of 6 stamps from which to make thirty booklet panes. Later the plates were expanded to 360 subject plates, providing six rows of ten panes of 6 stamps from which to make sixty booklet panes. The earliest known use of the ordinary stamps, the two cent Scott 332, wasn't until several weeks later, December 4, 1908.

Although Scott lists the six cent stamp with an issue date of Jan. 1909 official post office records show an issue date of December 31, 1908 and we are including it here for that reason. However earliest known covers are dated January 6, 1909.

Not all of the denominations of this Series were issued in 1908, in fact none of the denominations above eight cents were issued before 1909. There are no concrete numbers available for the quantities issued, the post office did not make a distinction between the many and various types, but the estimates provided should provide a ballpark feel for the relative amounts of the perf 12 stamps issued.

The Washington Franklin stamps provide some of the greater challenges in all of philately and we have detailed this in other sections of the site. See: Washington Franklin Identifier.


The Special Delivery Stamp of 1908
Flat Plate - Perforated 12 - Double-line Watermark - 280 Subject Plates

Issue Date: Dec. 12, 1908

The 10¢ Special Delivery Stamp of 1908 - The "Merry Widow"

Dubbed the "Merry Widow", most likely inspired by the hat worn by the widow in the operetta of the same name, this stamp had the shortest life of any of the special delivery issues. Its size and color matched that of the one cent Franklin regular issue and did not distinguish itself as had the larger, rectangular dark blue special delivery stamps that had preceded it. The point of the stamp was to insure special handling and this lack of distinction created problems among postal employees. One of the first acts of the new Postmaster General, Frank H. Hitchcock, who took office on March 6, 1909, was to order a return to the special delivery stamp of the 1902 Series. This was finalized on June 9, 1909, and a return to the earlier stamp was made. Thus this stamp had a life of less than six months.

The Merry Widow is not as scarce as its short life might dictate. The unusual color and size, for a special delivery stamp, most likely inspired many to set aside covers bearing the stamp. Additionally, many collectors mistakenly set aside plate blocks of four, of which a substantial number have subsequently been broken to sell as singles, since the "correct" plate block is of six stamps and the block of four brings little premium. Even the six stamp plate block was popular enough at the time that today it brings a premium less than any of its contemporaries.

The earliest known cover, addressed to a stamp dealer in Washington, D.C., is December 14, 1908.


The following postage stamp varieties were first issued by the U.S. in 1908:
No new varieties of commemorative stamps were issued in 1908
No new varieties of the Postage Due stamps were issued in 1908

Ordinary issue:
Designer: Claire Aubrey Huston, based on the profile from Houdon's busts of Washington and Franklin
Engravers: Marcus W. Baldwin, Edward M. Hall and Robert Ponickau
Scott 314A - 4¢ Grant Series of 1902 imperforate with Schermack Type III - EDU: 5/27/1908
Scott 314H Horizontal Coil - 1¢ Franklin Series of 1902 imperforate from a horizontal strip - EDU: 3/19/1908
Scott 314V Vertical Coil - 1¢ Franklin Series of 1902 imperforate from a vertical strip
Scott 315 - 5¢ Lincoln Series of 1902 imperforate- EDU: 9/15/1908
Scott 316 - 1¢ Franklin Series of 1902 perf 12 horizontally- EDU: not known on cover
Scott 317 - 5¢ Lincoln Series of 1902 perf 12 horizontally- EDU: 9/18/1908
Scott 318 - 1¢ Franklin Series of 1902 perf 12 vertically - EDU: not known on cover
Scott 320H Horizontal Coil - 2¢ Washington Design of 1903 imperforate from a horizontal strip
Scott 320V Vertical Coil - 2¢ Washington Design of 1903 imperforate from a vertical strip
Scott 321 - 2¢ Washington Design of 1903 perf 12 horizontally- EDU: 10/02/1908
Scott 322 - 2¢ Washington Design of 1903 perf 12 vertically - EDU: 7/7/1908
Scott 331 - 1¢ Franklin perf 12 double-line watermarked - EDU: 12/01/08
Scott 331a - 1¢ Franklin perf 12 D/L Wmk Booklet (pane) - EDU: 12/02/08
Scott 332 - 2¢ Washington perf 12 double-line watermarked - EDU: 12/03/08
Scott 332a - 2¢ Washington perf 12 D/L Wmk Booklet (pane) - EDU: 11/16/08
Scott 333 - 3¢ Washington perf 12 double-line watermarked - EDU: 1/12/09
Scott 334 - 4¢ Washington perf 12 double-line watermarked - EDU: 1/12/09
Scott 335 - 5¢ Washington perf 12 double-line watermarked - EDU: 1/12/09
Scott 336 - 6¢ Washington perf 12 double-line watermarked - EDU: 1/6/09
Scott 337 - 8¢ Washington perf 12 double-line watermarked - EDU: 1/8/09
Scott 343 - 1¢ Franklin imperforate double-line watermarked - EDU: 1/4/09
Scott 344 - 2¢ Washington imperforate double-line watermarked - EDU: 12/7/08
Scott 348 - 1¢ Franklin perf 12 horizontally D/L Wmk - EDU: 1/25/09

Special Delivery:
Scott E7 - 10¢ Helmut of Mercury perf 12 double-line watermarked - EDU: 12/14/08


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