1995 32¢ Spectacle Reef, Lake Huron
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.
The Spectacle Reef Lighthouse on Lake Huron is shown from above. Koslow used a photo provided by the US Coast Guard, likely taken from a helicopter. A group of seagulls gives the image added depth and motion.
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: During the early 1800s the Great Lakes Region experienced a rapid increase in population, industrialization, and commerce, especially after the completion of the Erie Canal in 1825. By 1852 there were 76 lighthouses operating on the Great Lakes.
The Spectacle Reef is actually a pair of shoals, seven to eleven feet deep at the Straits of Mackinac on Lake Huron. After two ships ran aground there in 1867, the US Congress was easily convinced to appropriate the huge sums needed to build a lighthouse in this difficult environment. The lighthouse at Spectacle Reef cost $406,000 – which translates into over 4 million dollars in today’s money. Before work could begin, the wreckage of the last ship to fall victim to the reef had to be removed. It took four years to complete the lighthouse, which was built of limestone on top of a massive submerged foundation.