1976 13¢ Benjamin Franklin
Issue Date: June 1, 1976
City: Philadelphia, PA
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Lithographed, engraved
Color: Ultramarine and multicolored
This issue is part of the American Revolution Bicentennial Series. The stamp honors Benjamin Franklin, first U.S. Postmaster General, signer of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, American diplomat to France, publisher, writer, scientist, and inventor.
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.
First U.S. Joint Issue
On June 26, 1959, the U.S. issued its first of many joint issue stamps with another nation.
America’s first joint issue stamp was created to honor the completion of the St. Lawrence Seaway. The U.S. and Canada worked together to create the seaway to connect the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean.
Producing a joint issue was unheard of in both the U.S. and Canada at the time, and it posed a number of logistical issues. For starters, postal officials from both nations had to agree on a design, as the final stamps would be similar in appearance aside from their country designations and denominations. They also had to consider each nation’s postal laws and the procedures for producing First Day Covers.
But in the end, the postal officials worked well together and created a stamp that honored the seaway (with a map) and represented both nations with a maple leaf and bald eagle. Each nation then printed its own stamps, which is another interesting part of the story.
The U.S. stamps were printed on the Giori press, which could print up to three colors at the same time. But the Canada stamps were printed from two engraved plates that had to be run through the press separately. Between printings, some of the sheets were rotated, resulting in an inverted center error. The errors were discovered two months after the stamps were issued and eventually became Canada’s most famous stamp error.
Both St. Lawrence Seaway stamps were issued on June 26, 1959, the day the seaway was officially dedicated by President Dwight Eisenhower and Queen Elizabeth II.
In the years since, the U.S. has issued more than 40 joint issues with other countries.
See more U.S.-Canada joint issues below: