1976 13¢ Montana
State Flags Issue
Issue Date: February 23, 1976
City: Washington, DC
Quantity: 8,720,100 panes of 50
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Photogravure
Issued as part of the ongoing Bicentennial celebration, the 13¢ State Flags pane was a first in U.S. history. This was the first time a pane with 50 face-different stamps was issued. Each state is represented by its official flag, with the stamps arranged on the sheet in the same order each state was admitted into the Union.
Montana State Flag
The trains pulled out from Dillon, Montana, in 1898, the first step of a voyage carrying the First Montana Regiment to battle. The United States and Spain were at war, and the First Montana was headed to the Philippines, a journey of 7,000 miles. The regiment’s commander, Colonel Harry Kessler, felt the troops needed something special to distinguish them from other units. He privately commissioned a flag for the unit that showed the state seal, with “1st Montana Inft’y U.S.V.” above the seal.
The First Montana finally arrived in Manila – 10 days after the city surrendered. During their tour they served in the Philippine Insurrection that directly followed the war. Upon their return to Montana in 1899, Kessler’s flag captured the attention of the public. Six years later, the Montana state legislature adopted that flag as the official state flag, with the regiment’s name removed.
The seal features a pick, shovel, and plow against a background of forests, fields, and mountains. The Great Falls and Missouri River are also shown. The scene represents Montana’s mineral and agricultural wealth, which is reinforced by a banner that says Oro y Plata, or “Gold and Silver.” In 1981, the state legislature added “Montana” above the seal.
The Bicentennial Series
The U.S. Bicentennial was a series of celebrations during the mid-1970s that commemorated the historic events leading to America’s independence from Great Britain. The official events began on April 1, 1975, when the American Freedom Train departed Delaware to begin a 21-month, 25,338-mile tour of the 48 contiguous states. For more than a year, a wave of patriotism swept the nation as elaborate firework displays lit up skies across the U.S., an international fleet of tall-mast sailing ships gathered in New York City and Boston, and Queen Elizabeth made a state visit. The celebration culminated on July 4, 1976, with the 200th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.
The U.S.P.S. issued 113 commemorative stamps over a six-year period in honor of the U.S. bicentennial, beginning with the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission Emblem stamp (U.S. #1432). As a group, the Bicentennial Series chronicles one of our nation’s most important chapters, and remembers the events and patriots who made the U.S. a world model for liberty.