1919 3¢ Victory Issue Commemorative
Issue Date: March 3, 1919
City of Issue: Washington, D.C.
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Method: Flat plate
Issued at the close of World War I, the symbolic 3¢ Victory stamp is fascinating to both historians and collectors. Rich symbolism captures many element of the conflict, which saw nations around the globe drawn into war, largely because of a series of treaties.
Tensions were brewing before World War I actually began. When Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary was assassinated on June 28, 1914, a complex web of international treaties drew several nations into the turmoil.
Having agreed by treaty to defend one another, nations were forced to go to war in support of the Allied Powers (France, Italy, Russia, the British Empire, and the U.S.) or the Central Powers (Austria-Hungary, the German and Ottoman empires, and Bulgaria).
President Woodrow Wilson ignored intense pressure and rejected U.S. involvement for over three years, until increased German submarine attacks (U-boats) on American merchant ships prompted a U.S. declaration of war.
American troops poured into Europe at the rate of 10,000 per day. The war raged for about 18 more months, until the Allies were victorious and the conflict officially ended on November 11, 1918.
Issued four months later, U.S. #537 pictures Liberty Victorious against a background comprised of the flags of the Allied Powers. The Russian flag is absent, perhaps because it withdrew from the war in the wake of the Russian Revolution.
Before the U.S. joined the war, the first-class domestic postage rate was 2¢. That rate was raised to 3¢ on November 3, 1917, to offset the cost of the war. The rate was decreased on June 30, 1919. The Victory stamp was the only 3¢ U.S. commemorative issued to pay the first-class letter rate during that period.