1958 8¢ Lajos Kossuth
Champions of Liberty
Issue Date: September 19, 1958
City: Washington, D.C.
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Giori Press
Color: Carmine, ultramarine, and ocher
Lajos Kossuth, a Hungarian revolutionary, is showcased on U.S. #1118. Kossuth fought tirelessly for independence for Hungary, and served briefly as Governor-President when the country earned its independence in 1849. But in 1851, the government collapsed as the area was taken over by Austria, and Lajos moved to America. U.S. #1118 was printed on the new Giori Press, in three colors.
Kossuth continued to work for Hungary’s freedom while in America. He became the second foreign citizen to address the joint houses of Congress (Lafayette was the first). Kossuth was given a congressional banquet and received at the White House. His popularity was so great that it caused tensions between the United States and Austria, who wanted him given into their custody.
Champions of Liberty
In 1957, the Post Office Department issued a stamp honoring Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay as a “Champion of Liberty.” Magsaysay’s stamp marked the beginning of a 10-stamp series honoring non-Americans who fought for freedom in their homelands.
After Magsaysay’s single commemorative stamp was issued, the rest of the series had two stamps printed for each subject – one in a single color, and one with three colors. The pairs were also of different denominations. The series was issued from 1957 to 1961. It featured Ramon Magsaysay, Simón Bolívar, Lajos Kossuth, José de San Martín, Ernst Reuter, T.G. Masaryk, Ignacy Jan Paderewski, Gustaf Mannerheim, Giuseppe Garibaldi, and Mahatma Gandhi.
Giori Press Added Color
In 1955, the Post Office Department acquired a new stamp press designed by Gualtiero Giori. Called the “Giori Press,” the new machine could produce stamps in two or three different colors, all in one pass. Different rollers each applied a different color.
The new press began producing stamps in 1957, with U.S.# 1094, the American Flag. It soon was used on the Champions of Liberty stamps. In 1962, the press was used for a secret project – some speculated that it was making money. Instead, the result was the “Project Mercury” stamp (U.S. #1193), printed in secret even among Post Office employees.
The stamp was shipped in sealed packages to over 300 postmasters across the country, with strict instructions not to open it until instructed. The secrecy was dependent upon the success of John Glenn’s historic space flight orbiting Earth – if the mission had failed, the stamp would not have been released.