Block of Four
- Issued to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the first circus in America
Stamp Category: Commemorative
Value: Each stamp is valued at 29¢
First Day of Issue: April 6, 1993
First Day City(s): Washington, DC
Quantity Issued: 65,625,000
Printed by: Ashton-Potter (USA)
Printing Method: Offset
Format: Plates of 240 separated into panes of 40
Why the stamp was issued: This block of four stamps was issued in honor of the 200th anniversary of the first circus in the US. It took place on April 3, 1793 in Philadelphia.
About the stamp design: The stamps are semi-jumbo size. The designs show the work of painter Steve McCracken. He created images that reflect art found on posters. The portion of a yellow oval found on each stamp represents a spotlight.
Special design details: To prevent counterfeiting, “1992” was microprinted on each stamp. With a magnifying glass, it can be found on the heel of the clown’s right shoe, the bottom of the trapeze bar, below the elephant’s chin, and inside the ringmaster’s hat.
First Day City: Washington, DC was the First Day city. The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus opened there that evening. King Tusk, one of the circus’s elephants, participated in the ceremony by cancelling a giant replica of the stamp with a specially-made rubber stamp.
History the stamp represents: During the 18th century, circuses in Europe often focused on horseback riding stunts. Soon clowns and acrobats were added. On April 3, 1793, a Scottish horseman, John Bill Ricketts brought the circus to America. He set up a ring in a building in Philadelphia, the nation’s capital at the time. In addition to showing his horsemanship, Ricketts also had a clown, an acrobat, and a ropewalker. One of the residents who came to see the circus was President George Washington. Ricketts’ circus was successful, and he went on tour the following year.