1995 32¢ St. Joseph, Lake Michigan
Great Lakes Lighthouses
· From the second set in the Lighthouses Series
Stamp Category: Commemorative
Value: 32¢, rate for first-class mail
First Day of Issue: June 17, 1995
First Day City: Cheboygan, Michigan
Quantity Issued: 120,240,000
Printed by: Stamp Venturers
Printing Method: Photogravure
Format: Booklet panes of five in sheets of 200
Perforations: 11.2 vertically
Why the stamp was issued: To pay tribute to significant lighthouses along the Great Lakes.
About the stamp design: Artist Howard Koslow, who had provided the artwork for the first set of Lighthouse stamps in 1990, painted the Great Lakes Lighthouses as well. Having become a bit of a lighthouse expert while working on the first set, he researched and suggested 15 possible lighthouses for the 1995 stamps. In the end, the lighthouses selected represented each of the Great Lakes. The booklet cover pictures the top of the Spectacle Reef Lighthouse. Beside that is a map of the Great Lakes with the locations of each of the five lighthouses marked by red dots.
For the St. Joseph Lighthouse on Lake Michigan, Koslow hired photographer Frank Sedlar to take photos from a specific angle. The painting is from the view of the shore, beside the catwalk. Just above the crashing waves, four seagulls can be seen.
First Day City: The Great Lakes Lighthouse stamps were released in a special ceremony aboard the US Coast Guard cutter Sundew in Cheboygan, Michigan.
About the Lighthouse Series: Several lighthouses had been featured on stamps prior to 1990, but lighthouse enthusiasts were calling for more. In 1987, James W. Hyland III, chairman of the Lighthouse Preservation Society, submitted a list of 10 lighthouses he thought should be honored on stamps to the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee. Initially, the committee supported his idea and proposed issuing 10 stamps in two panes honoring all of the lighthouses. However, the USPS felt that would make for too many stamps, so they opted to just issue five, though a sixth would be pictured on the booklet cover. Two of the six lighthouses had been on stamps before, Cape Hatteras and Sandy Hook.
The stamps were issued on April 26, 1990, to mark the 200th anniversary of the creation of the Revenue Marine (later the Revenue Cutter Service). Five years later, the USPS issued a second booklet featuring lighthouses from the Great Lakes. Both of these sets proved quite popular, so the USPS continued issuing stamps honoring lighthouses from different areas of the country every few years, with the final issue coming in 2021. You can read more about the series and find the individual sets here.
History the stamp represents: With the American Colonies’ dependence on trade from across the Atlantic, the need for lighthouses was immediate. North America’s first lighthouse was put into use in 1716, but it was not until 1818 that the first lighthouse was built on the Great Lakes.
Lake Michigan’s St. Joseph’s Harbor is so treacherous that countless vessels have been wrecked there – often just yards from safety. The US government built the harbor’s first lighthouse, a circular stone tower, in 1831. In 1846 an additional wooden tower, which shined a white light over the water, was built at the end of a pier. A wooden tower built on top of the keeper’s house replaced the stone tower in 1859. Yet another tower, with a modern steel design, was built in 1898. It included a steam-powered fog horn. The wooden tower on the pier was replaced by a steel one in 1907.