1987 $5 Great Americans: Bret Harte

# 2196 - 1987 $5 Great Americans: Bret Harte

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U.S. #2196
1987 $5 Bret Harte
Great Americans

  • Issued on Harte’s 151st birthday in a town named in his honor
  • Issued in sheetlets of 20

Stamp Category:  Definitive
Series: 
Great Americans
Value: 
$5, used on heavier parcels
First Day of Issue: 
August 25, 1987
First Day City: 
Twain Harte, California
Quantity Issued: 
9,908,000
Printed by: 
Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: 
Engraving
Format: 
Miniature sheetlets of 20 in sheets of 320
Perforations:  11
Color:
  Copper red

Why the stamp was issued:  This stamp’s $5 denomination didn’t cover a specific rate, but was most likely used for heavier parcels. It replaced the 1979 $5 Railroad lantern stamp.  This stamp broke with a long-standing tradition of issuing definitives in sheets of 100.  Instead, it was printed in smaller sheetlets of 20.  Part of the reason for this was to cut down on waste and destruction costs at Philatelic Centers and the Philatelic Sales Division.  They often offered plate blocks of four, leaving the rest of the stamps to go to waste.  With this new format, the plate numbers were printed in each of the four corners.  So they could get four plate blocks out of each pane and only have four singles left over to be sold or destroyed. 

 

About the stamp design:  This was artist Arthur Lidov’s second US stamp design.  He based his portrait on a photo taken of Harte when he was middle-aged.

 

First Day City:  The First Day ceremony for this stamp was held at the Twain Harte Elementary School in the California town of the same name.  The town was named after Harte and his friend and fellow author Mark Twain.  The stamp was unveiled exactly one year earlier in the same place on Harte’s 150th birthday.

 

Unusual fact about this stamp:  Varieties of this stamp have been found with a double entry.  These stamps appear darker as a result of the printing plate and transfer roll impressing the stamp twice in different positions.

 

About the Great Americans Series:  The Great Americans Series was created to replace the Americana Series.  The new series would be characterized by a standard definitive size, simple design, and monochromatic colors. 

 

This simple design included a portrait, “USA,” the denomination, the person’s name, and in some cases, their occupation or reason for recognition.  The first stamp in the new series was issued on December 27, 1980.  It honored Sequoyah and fulfilled the new international postcard rate that would go into effect in January 1981.

 

The Great Americans Series would honor a wider range of people than the previous Prominent Americans and Liberty Series.  While those series mainly honored presidents and politicians, the Great Americans Series featured people from many fields and ethnicities.  They were individuals who were leaders in education, the military, literature, the arts, and human and civil rights.  Plus, while the previous series only honored a few women, the Great Americans featured 15 women.  This was also the first definitive series to honor Native Americans, with five stamps.

 

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) produced most of the stamps, but private firms printed some.  Several stamps saw multiple printings.  The result was many different varieties, with tagging being the key to understanding them.  Though there were also differences in perforations, gum, paper, and ink color.

 

The final stamp in the series was issued on July 17, 1999, honoring Justin S. Morrill.  Spanning 20 years, the Great Americans was the longest-running US definitive series.  It was also the largest series of face-different stamps, with a total of 63.

 

Click here for all the individual stamps and click here for the complete series.

 

History the stamp represents:  Writer Francis Bret Harte was born on August 25, 1836, in Albany, New York.  The author was born Francis Brett Hart after his grandfather, Francis Brett. His father later added the “e” to the family name. His father was also one of the founders of the New York Stock Exchange.

 

Harte loved to read as a child and published his first work at age 11, a satirical poem called “Autumn Musings.” Harte only attended school until he was 13. Then in 1853 he went to California where he worked a number of different jobs including miner, teacher, messenger, and journalist. At one point he served as a messenger for Wells Fargo, guarding treasure boxes on stagecoaches. In 1860 he wrote a controversial editorial in response to the Wiyot massacre that led to threats on his life, forcing him to leave town.

 

Harte then moved to San Francisco. There he began to focus more on writing, having his poems and stories published in several different newspapers and periodicals.   Harte also helped to establish a new literary journal, The Californian, and served as editor of The Overland Monthly. Harte’s story “The Luck of Roaring Camp,” which appeared in The Overland Monthly, helped him gain national attention. His poem “The Heathen Chinee” earned him even more attention after it was published in several national newspapers.

 

Harte then moved to Boston to promote his literary career. He began working for The Atlantic Monthly, but his popularity eventually declined. In 1880 he was made U.S. Consul to Glasgow, Scotland. He then settled in London, spending the last 24 years of his life in Europe. He continued to write extensively into his final years. Harte died on May 5, 1902 in Camberley, England.

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U.S. #2196
1987 $5 Bret Harte
Great Americans

  • Issued on Harte’s 151st birthday in a town named in his honor
  • Issued in sheetlets of 20

Stamp Category:  Definitive
Series: 
Great Americans
Value: 
$5, used on heavier parcels
First Day of Issue: 
August 25, 1987
First Day City: 
Twain Harte, California
Quantity Issued: 
9,908,000
Printed by: 
Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: 
Engraving
Format: 
Miniature sheetlets of 20 in sheets of 320
Perforations:  11
Color:
  Copper red

Why the stamp was issued:  This stamp’s $5 denomination didn’t cover a specific rate, but was most likely used for heavier parcels. It replaced the 1979 $5 Railroad lantern stamp.  This stamp broke with a long-standing tradition of issuing definitives in sheets of 100.  Instead, it was printed in smaller sheetlets of 20.  Part of the reason for this was to cut down on waste and destruction costs at Philatelic Centers and the Philatelic Sales Division.  They often offered plate blocks of four, leaving the rest of the stamps to go to waste.  With this new format, the plate numbers were printed in each of the four corners.  So they could get four plate blocks out of each pane and only have four singles left over to be sold or destroyed. 

 

About the stamp design:  This was artist Arthur Lidov’s second US stamp design.  He based his portrait on a photo taken of Harte when he was middle-aged.

 

First Day City:  The First Day ceremony for this stamp was held at the Twain Harte Elementary School in the California town of the same name.  The town was named after Harte and his friend and fellow author Mark Twain.  The stamp was unveiled exactly one year earlier in the same place on Harte’s 150th birthday.

 

Unusual fact about this stamp:  Varieties of this stamp have been found with a double entry.  These stamps appear darker as a result of the printing plate and transfer roll impressing the stamp twice in different positions.

 

About the Great Americans Series:  The Great Americans Series was created to replace the Americana Series.  The new series would be characterized by a standard definitive size, simple design, and monochromatic colors. 

 

This simple design included a portrait, “USA,” the denomination, the person’s name, and in some cases, their occupation or reason for recognition.  The first stamp in the new series was issued on December 27, 1980.  It honored Sequoyah and fulfilled the new international postcard rate that would go into effect in January 1981.

 

The Great Americans Series would honor a wider range of people than the previous Prominent Americans and Liberty Series.  While those series mainly honored presidents and politicians, the Great Americans Series featured people from many fields and ethnicities.  They were individuals who were leaders in education, the military, literature, the arts, and human and civil rights.  Plus, while the previous series only honored a few women, the Great Americans featured 15 women.  This was also the first definitive series to honor Native Americans, with five stamps.

 

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) produced most of the stamps, but private firms printed some.  Several stamps saw multiple printings.  The result was many different varieties, with tagging being the key to understanding them.  Though there were also differences in perforations, gum, paper, and ink color.

 

The final stamp in the series was issued on July 17, 1999, honoring Justin S. Morrill.  Spanning 20 years, the Great Americans was the longest-running US definitive series.  It was also the largest series of face-different stamps, with a total of 63.

 

Click here for all the individual stamps and click here for the complete series.

 

History the stamp represents:  Writer Francis Bret Harte was born on August 25, 1836, in Albany, New York.  The author was born Francis Brett Hart after his grandfather, Francis Brett. His father later added the “e” to the family name. His father was also one of the founders of the New York Stock Exchange.

 

Harte loved to read as a child and published his first work at age 11, a satirical poem called “Autumn Musings.” Harte only attended school until he was 13. Then in 1853 he went to California where he worked a number of different jobs including miner, teacher, messenger, and journalist. At one point he served as a messenger for Wells Fargo, guarding treasure boxes on stagecoaches. In 1860 he wrote a controversial editorial in response to the Wiyot massacre that led to threats on his life, forcing him to leave town.

 

Harte then moved to San Francisco. There he began to focus more on writing, having his poems and stories published in several different newspapers and periodicals.   Harte also helped to establish a new literary journal, The Californian, and served as editor of The Overland Monthly. Harte’s story “The Luck of Roaring Camp,” which appeared in The Overland Monthly, helped him gain national attention. His poem “The Heathen Chinee” earned him even more attention after it was published in several national newspapers.

 

Harte then moved to Boston to promote his literary career. He began working for The Atlantic Monthly, but his popularity eventually declined. In 1880 he was made U.S. Consul to Glasgow, Scotland. He then settled in London, spending the last 24 years of his life in Europe. He continued to write extensively into his final years. Harte died on May 5, 1902 in Camberley, England.