1984 20¢ Los Angeles Summer Olympics
· Issued to promote the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California
· The final block of stamps issued between 1983 and 1984 to promote the Summer and Winter Olympics – the most Olympic stamps issued up to that point
Stamp Category: Commemorative
Set: 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics
Value: 20¢, rate for first-class mail
First Day of Issue: May 4, 1984
First Day City: Los Angeles, California
Quantity Issued: 313,350,000
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Photogravure
Format: Panes of 50 in sheets of 200
Why the stamps were issued: These stamps promoted the Los Angeles Summer Olympics, being held July 28 – August 12, 1984.
About the stamp designs: These stamps, along with all the others issued for the 1984 Winter and Summer Olympics, featured the artwork of Robert Peak. Peak designed these stamps in a similar style to his previous Olympic stamps. Each stamp has “flowing strikes” – colorful stripes adding movement to the background and definition to the uniforms and costumes.
The Diving stamp pictures a male diver in a “tuck” position, with his knees pulled close to his chest by his hands. The Long Jump stamp shows a female athlete soaring through the air just after jumping. The Wrestling stamp pictures two male competitors in the midst of a match. The Kayaking stamp shows a female athlete paddling a modern Olympic-style kayak through the water.
First Day City: These stamps were issued at the University of California at Los Angeles during the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Men’s Volleyball Championship.
Unusual facts about these stamps: Between 1983 and 1984, the USPS issued 24 Olympics stamps to commemorate the 1984 Winter and Summer Games. This was more Olympic stamps than had been issued in the 50 years since Olympic stamps were first issued!
There were more than 400 special Olympic cancels available around Los Angeles during the games. There were 33 different pictorial markings, but with the number of locations and dates, the total number of different cancels was over 400. These included the Olympic flame, different sporting events, the Olympic villages, and press and broadcast centers.
About Olympics Stamps: In 1932, the US Post Office Department issued its first stamp honoring the Olympics Games. 1932 marked the third time the Winter Olympic Games were held, and the first time the event was held in the US. The games were held in Lake Placid, a small town in upstate New York that was home to less than 3,000 year-round residents.
Less than five months later, the Post Office issued its second and third Olympics stamps, honoring the summer games. Both stamps were issued on June 15, 1932, in Los Angeles, California, the site of the games.
It would be nearly 30 years before the US issued another stamp honoring the Olympics. That issue commemorated the 1960 Winter Olympics held in Squaw Valley, California. Since 1972, the USPS has issued stamps for most Summer and Winter Olympic Games.
Click here for lots more US and worldwide Olympics stamps.
History the stamps represent: On July 28, 1984, the Summer Olympic Games opened in Los Angeles, California.
By the late 1970s, few countries were interested in hosting Summer Olympics following the deaths of Israeli athletes at the 1972 games and the large financial debts of Montreal in 1976. By 1978, only Los Angeles and Tehran were interested, and Tehran withdrew their bid following policy changes in the country.
The games of the XXIII Olympiad officially opened on July 28, 1984, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Some 92,516 fans attended the ceremonies, which were formally opened by President Ronald Reagan. This was the first time a sitting US president opened an Olympic Games in person. Following the ringing of church bells and cannon fire, the games officially opened with a welcome demonstration. An 800-member marching band played and then a ballet performance honoring the American Old West followed. The next presentation, called the Dixieland Jamboree, honored the American South and included a performance of “When the Saints Go Marching In” by Etta James.
This was followed by a performance featuring George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” with accompaniment by 85 grand pianos. Then a big band orchestra played a number of popular songs including “Sing, Sing, Sing,” “Steppin’ Out with My Baby,” the theme from Fame, and Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.” The performance ended with “America the Beautiful.”
Next occurred the parade of nations and a performance of John Williams’s “Olympic Fanfare and Theme,” which later earned him a Grammy. After a series of speeches, the cauldron (the same one used in LA in 1932) was lit by a torch runner. Beginning its trip in Greece, the Olympic torch traveled from New York City through 33 states, across 9,320 miles, and was carried by 3,636 runners.
In all 6,829 athletes (5,263 men and 1,566 women) from 140 nations participated in 221 events in 21 sports. A total of 14 Eastern Bloc countries boycotted the games in response to America’s boycott of the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. Even still, the number of participating nations was a record at the time. China participated in the Olympics for the first time since 1952.
Among the highlights was Carl Lewis, who made his first of four Olympic appearances, matching Jesse Owens’s 1936 performance, winning four gold medals. Joaquim Cruz of Brazil set a record in the 800-meter run and Nawal El Moutawakel of Morocco became the first female Olympic champion from a Muslim nation in the 400-meter hurdles. Portugal’s Carloes Lopes set a record for the marathon that stood for 24 years.
For most Americans, the highlight of the 1984 Olympics came from women’s gymnastics, when Mary Lou Retton received perfect scores in her final two events and won the individual gold medal.
During games, the US set the record for most gold medals won in a single Summer Olympics with 83. That beat the previous record set by the Soviet Union in 1980.
The 1984 Olympics were the first to have corporate sponsors. This action was taken after the 1976 Montreal Olympics ran into serious financial problems. The 1984 games made a healthy profit of $200 million – the highest up to that time. They were the first games to make a profit since the 1932 Olympics.
The games officially ended on August 12. Over the course of the games, the US had the most gold medals (83) and the most overall medals (174), followed by Romania and West Germany.