$5 Bret Harte
Great Americans Series
Issue Date: August 25, 1987
City: Twain Harte, CA
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Engraved
Color: Bright violet
A writer of fiction about the American West, Bret Harte's stories centered around his life in California. Capturing the characteristics and speech of the gold miners, gamblers, and prostitutes like no other writer, his style of "local color writing" brought him instant success. Today, his tales are considered American classics. Harte is pictured on the $5 Great Americans stamp.
Issued between 1980 and 1999, the Great Americans definitive series features 63 designs, making it the larges set of face different Regular Issue stamps issued in the 20th century. One stamp honors a couple (Lila and Dewitt Wallace) while the remaining 62 commemorate individuals.
The series is characterized by a standard definitive size, simple design and monochromatic colors. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing produced most of the stamps, but some were printed by private firms. Several stamps saw multiple printings. The result is many different varieties, with tagging being the key to understanding them.