1898 8¢ Trans-Mississippi Exposition
First Day of Issue: June 17, 1898
Quantity issued: 2,927,200 (unknown quantity later destroyed)
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Method: Flat Plate in sheets of 100 subjects
Watermark: Double-line watermark USPS
Color: Violet brown
U.S. #289 pictures a group of Federal troops escorting a wagon train in the west. Based on a Frederic Remington drawing, “Troops Guarding Train” is one of the most visually appealing of the Trans-Mississippi series.
Remington’s work gave Americans living east of the Mississippi a glimpse into the nation’s Wild West. The artist, sculptor, and author published thirteen books and his images were used in 60 additional works. This image was published one year before the 1898 Trans-Mississippi Exposition.
The 8¢ Trans-Mississippi stamp pictures a long, winding train of covered wagons filled with emigrants and their families crossing the plains. The troops were needed to guard the wagon trains from the ever-present threat of Indian attacks.
The 8¢ stamp features the same border as the rest of the values. Unlike the 1893 Columbian series, the Trans-Mississippi Exposition commemoratives didn’t include the name or dates of the event. Instead, each stamp features a caption with the name of the photograph or painting upon which its design is based.
Printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing
The Trans-Mississippi commemorative stamps were printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Original plans called for the series to be printed in bi-color. However, the Spanish-American War strained the resources of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which was overburdened by the demand for revenue stamps to fund the war. The Trans-Mississippi commemoratives were printed in a single color, with the 8¢ denomination printed in violet brown ink.
The 8¢ denomination was intended to pay the domestic registered mail fee. Some were used in combination with other stamps to meet large weight and destination rates.
About the 1898 Trans-Mississippi Exposition Series
The 1898 Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition was held to further the progress and development of natural resources west of the Mississippi River. Held in Omaha, Nebraska, the exposition opened on June 1, 1898, and ran for four months. More than 4,000 exhibits showcased social, economic, and industrial resources of the American West. The expo wasn’t a financial success overall, but it did revitalize Omaha, a community that had been devastated by drought and depression.
Over 2.6 million people attended the expo, which featured the Indian Congress, the largest Native American gathering of its kind. Over 500 members representing 28 tribes camped on the fairgrounds and introduced Americans from the East to their way of life. Reenactments of the explosion of the battleship Maine also fueled patriotism and support for the Spanish-American War.
The series is also referred to as the “Omahas” because the show was held in the city of Omaha. An unknown number of unsold stamps were recalled and destroyed.