1994 29¢ Charles Goodnight
Legends of the West
· From the corrected version of the famed Legends of the West error sheet
· First sheet in the Classic Collection Series
Stamp Category: Commemorative
Set: Legends of the West
Value: 29¢, rate for first-class mail
First Day of Issue: October 18, 1994
First Day Cities: Tucson, Arizona; Lawton, Oklahoma; Laramie, Wyoming
Quantity Issued: 19,282,800
Printed by: Stamp Venturers
Printing Method: Photogravure
Format: Panes of 20 in sheets of 120
Perforations: 10.2 x 10.1
Why the stamp was issued: The Legends of the West sheet was the first issue in the Classic Collection Series. It was developed from an idea to honor “Western Americana.”
About the stamp design: Stamp artist Mark Hess spent nearly two years working on the Legends of the West stamps. The portrait of Charles Goodnight was based on a 1911 photo of the businessman. He’s pictured with a herd of cattle and a mountain scene taken from a painting that once hung in Goodnight’s own ranch.
Special design details: This stamp comes from the famed Legends of the West sheet, which made headlines due to two mistakes made by the United States Postal Service and led to a string of events without precedent in the history of US stamp collecting.
One of the people to be featured on the sheet was black rodeo star Bill Pickett. After the stamps were announced, but not officially issued, a radio reporter phoned Frank Phillips Jr., great-grandson of Bill Pickett, and asked him about the stamp. Phillips went to his local post office, looked at the design and recognized it as Ben Pickett – Bill’s brother and business associate. The stamp pictured the wrong man! That was the first mistake.
Phillips complained to the Postal Service and Postmaster General Marvin Runyon issued an order to recall and destroy the error stamps. Runyon also ordered new revised stamps be created – these are the corrected Legends of the West stamps – #2869.
But before the recall, 186 error sheets were sold by postal workers – before the official “first day of issue.” This was the second mistake. These error sheets were being resold for sums ranging from $3,000 to $15,000 each!
Several weeks later the US Postal Service announced that 150,000 error sheets would be sold at face value by means of a mail order lottery. This unprecedented move was made with the permission of Frank Phillips Jr. so the Post Office could recover its printing cost and not lose money. Sales were limited to one per household. The remaining stamps were destroyed.
About the printing process: In order to include the text on the back of the Legends of the West stamps, it had to be printed under the gum, so that it would still be visible if a stamp was soaked off an envelope. Because people would need to lick the stamps, the ink had to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration as non-toxic. The printer also used an extra-fine 300-line screen, which resulted in some of the highest-quality gravure stamp printings in recent years.
First Day Cities: The Laramie, Wyoming First Day ceremony was held at the University of Wyoming. The Tucson, Arizona ceremony was held at the Old Tucson Studios, where the High Chaparral TV series and several Western movies had been filmed. The Lawton, Oklahoma ceremony was held at Fort Sill, where Geronimo was buried.
About the Legends of the West: The Legends of the West sheet was ultimately born out of a discussion to issue a stamp to honor the 100th anniversary of Ellis Island in 1992. That plan was abandoned, but was Ellis Island was featured on a postal card in the Historic Preservation Series (#UX165). Talks then pivoted to a stamp honoring “Western Americana.” Stamp artist Mark Hess was tasked with producing four semi-jumbo stamp images capturing the colorful and graphic look of old Wild West show posters. The Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC) discussed Hess’ images and decided to expand on the idea and honor 16 significant men and women that played major roles in the expansion of the West. At one point, they considered outlaws such as Butch Cassidy, Billy the Kid, and Jesse James, but ultimately decided to “come down on the side of right and justice.” The sheet of 20 had a decorative header and descriptive text was included on the back of each stamp.
The Legends of the West stamp designs were also adapted to postal cards, #UX178-97.
History the stamp represents:
Cattle rancher Charles Goodnight was born on March 5, 1836, in Macoupin County, Illinois. One of America’s most famous cattle barons, Goodnight helped blaze a major cattle trail and is sometimes referred to as the “Father of the Texas Panhandle.”
Goodnight spent the first 10 years of his childhood in Illinois before moving to Texas with his mother, stepfather, and siblings. He quickly learned the tricks of frontier survival and started working as a cowboy in 1856. Goodnight also served in the local militia and joined the Texas Rangers in 1857. When the Civil War broke out, he joined the Confederate Army. Goodnight spent most of the war on the frontier fighting against Native American raids.
After the war, Goodnight started herding the wild Texas Longhorn cattle, pushing them northward from West Texas toward the railroad lines. By 1866, Goodnight owned thousands of longhorn cattle, but like many other Texans, had no easy way to get his herds to lucrative eastern markets. Instead, he turned to other potential buyers – the military posts and mining towns of Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico.
In 1866, Goodnight partnered and Oliver Loving, an experienced driver, to move cattle from Texas to New Mexico. Although many cattle were lost along the way, the survivors sold readily. This established the Goodnight-Loving Trail as one of the main highways of the cattle drives and launched Goodnight as one of the first great cattle barons. During this time, Goodnight rebuilt an army surplus wagon to become the first chuck wagon.
After his banking ventures failed in 1876, Goodnight moved to the lush valley of the Palo Duro Canyon. There he partnered with John Adair to establish the JA Ranch, the first Texas panhandle ranch. Together they built an immense empire that eventually grew to almost one million acres and 100,000 head of cattle, as well as a herd of bison. To improve his stock, Goodnight imported Durhams and Herefords, transforming the Texas longhorn into today’s cattle. He also bred buffalo with Polled Angus cattle to create a new breed, the cattalo.
In 1880, Goodnight helped found the Panhandle Stockman’s association. The group promoted better cattle-breeding methods and also worked to decrease attacks from rustlers and outlaws. Goodnight also blazed a second trail to the railheads in Dodge City, Kansas, which eventually extended to Montana. Plus, he established Goodnight College in Armstrong County and worked for a newspaper and bank.
In his later years, Goodnight invested in silver mines in Mexico, but the government took them over and he lost his fortune. Goodnight died on December 12, 1929 at the age of 93. Today he is considered the Father of the Texas Panhandle for expanding ranching into the state and showing how to move the cattle to market. Several streets in Texas, Colorado, and New Mexico are named after him, as well as a small town – Goodnight, Texas.