20¢ St. Lawrence Seaway
Issue Date: June 26, 1984
City: Massena, NY
Printed By: American Bank Note Company
Printing Method: Photogravure
This U.S./Canada "simultaneous issue" commemorates the 25th anniversary of the St. Lawrence Seaway. With the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence Seaway permits 9,500 miles of continuous water navigation.
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: