1959 4¢ José de San Martín
Champions of Liberty
Issue Date: February 25, 1959
City: Washington, D.C.
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Rotary Press
Perforations: 10 ½ x 11
This stamp pictures José de San Martín, one of the key figures in the Spanish-American Revolutions in the early 1800s. San Martín is considered the greatest of the Libertadores of South America, along with Símon Bolívar.
San Martín was born in Argentina and educated in Madrid, Spain. He became a Colonel in the Spanish Army. After the fall of that country’s Bourbon dynasty, he took part in the independence movement sweeping South America. San Martín led the campaigns that liberated Argentine, Chile, and Peru.
San Martín met with Bolívar in Peru, after Bolívar’s great success in the North. Realizing that one or the other would have to take a lesser role, the two men met in Guayaquil. San Martín gave up all claims in Peru and moved back to Argentina. He soon retired and moved to France.
San Martín is pictured on U.S. #1117, produced by rotary press in blue ink with a 10 ½ x 11-gauge perforation. He is also honored on U.S. #1118, produced by Giori press in carmine, ultramarine, and ocher with 11-gauge perforation.
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.