Series of 1922-25 1 ½¢ Harding
Flat Plate Printing
Issue Date: March 19, 1925
First City: Washington, DC
Quantity Issued: 1,208,187,883
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Flat plate
Perforation: 11 gauge
Color: Yellow brown
U.S. #553 was the first 1 1/2-cent stamp issued in the U.S. – as well as being the first fractional postage stamp.
The Series of 1922-25
and the Wheels of Progress
In 1847, when the printing presses first began to move, they didn’t roll – they “stamped” in a process known as flat plate printing. The Regular Series of 1922 was the last to be printed by flat plate press, after which stamps were produced by rotary press printing.
By 1926, all denominations up to 10¢ – except the new ½¢ – were printed by rotary press. For a while, $1 to $5 issues were done on flat plate press due to smaller demand.
In 1922, the Post Office Department announced its decision to issue a new series of stamps to replace the Washington-Franklin series, which had been in use since 1908. Many criticized the change, believing it was being made to satisfy collectors rather than to fill an actual need. However, the similar designs and colors of the current stamps caused confusion, resulting in a substantial loss in revenue each year. In busy situations, postal clerks could not tell at a glance if the correct postage was being used.
Postal employees requested a variety of designs which could easily be distinguished from one another. Great care was taken to make sure the new designs could not be confused. Although the frames are similar, the vignettes (central designs) are distinctive. Prominent Americans, as well as scenes of national interest, were chosen as subjects for the new series.
In addition to issuing new designs, the Department developed a plan to first distribute a small number of each stamp on a particular date in a selected town which was of historical and geographical significance to the subject. The plan greatly increased interest and began a new trend of collecting stamps on covers or envelopes postmarked on the first day of issue.
Warren Harding Gets Fond Farewell
Warren Harding was a frequent subject on stamps such as U.S. #605 in the few years after his death. Harding was beloved across the country when he died in August 1923 while still in office. An estimated three million mourners gathered to watch his funeral train pass by. The New York Times called it “the most remarkable demonstration in American history of affection, respect, and reverence for the dead.”