1992 29¢ Minerals
Issue Date: September 17, 1992
City: Washington, DC
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Lithographed, engraved
Four minerals - azurite, copper, variscite, and wulfenite - were unearthed by the Postal Service to be featured on this set of stamps.
Azurite, named so because of its beautiful azure-blue color, and variscite, a semi-precious gemstone, are chiefly used in jewelry and other ornamental pieces.
Copper has been one of man’s most useful metals for almost 5,000 years. In ancient times, the chief source of copper was found on the island of Cyprus, and it came to be known as Cyprian metal. Today, our name and symbol (Cu) for copper come from the word “cuprum” – the Roman name for Cyprian metal.
Wulfenite is found in great quantities near Eastern Europe and South America. This yellow-orange mineral forms a crystallized structure, giving it a jagged appearance.
First U.S. Diamond Stamps
On June 13, 1974, the US issued its first stamps in a diamond shape, honoring our Mineral Heritage.
The idea for the Mineral Heritage stamps came from rock enthusiast Lillian Scheffers Turner. She first discovered her love of minerals at a 1961 gem and mineral show where she saw “nature in the rough” and became “a rock hound.”
Three years later, Turner was in charge of special events at a national gem and mineral show in Washington. While there, someone asked, “Why don’t we have a mineral stamp?” That simple question inspired her to launch a 10-year campaign to get America’s first mineral stamps created.
Over the next 10 years, Turner became well known around Capitol Hill, where she received support for her idea. She also typed up countless letters to postal officials, which ultimately paid off. Eventually, the postal service agreed to produce the stamps and worked with the Smithsonian’s Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals to find bright and colorful minerals that would really stand out on stamps. Turner also informed them that one of their initial choices had to be removed because it wasn’t a mineral that could be found in the United States.
These exciting new diamond-shaped stamps, the first in US history, were then issued on June 13, 1974, at the National Gem and Mineral Show in Lincoln, Nebraska. The stamps pictured petrified wood from the Petrified Forest in Arizona, tourmaline from San Diego County, California, rhodochrosite from the Sweet Home Mine in Colorado, and amethyst from Due West, South Carolina. The Mineral Heritage stamps were voted the most popular of all the stamps issued that year.
Not long after these stamps were issued, Turner insisted that the US needed to issue more mineral stamps and launched a new campaign. Eighteen years later she succeeded and the USPS issued its second set of mineral stamps in 1992.