Series of 1902-03 5¢ Lincoln
Issue Date: January 20, 1903
Quantity issued: 550,000,000 (estimate)
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Method: Flat plate
Watermark: Double line
Designed with the idea of conveying a message of patriotism, Lincoln’s careworn and despondent portrait was modeled after a wartime photograph. A united country is represented by the two figures – the Confederate and Union armies – clasping an olive branch of peace.
The 5¢ denomination paid the foreign letter rate. Traditionally, Lincoln had appeared on the 4¢ denominations and Ulysses S. Grant on the 5¢. That practice was changed with this issue.
President Abraham Lincoln
Two hundred years after his birth, Abraham Lincoln is still honored as one of the greatest U.S. Presidents.
Lincoln was a complex man whose legacy is often overshadowed by the Civil War. Indeed, he ably led the Union throughout the War Between the States, but he did much more. Lincoln made millions of acres in the West available to the public inexpensively, allowed grants for agricultural universities, and signed bills that funded the first transcontinental railroad. Lincoln introduced the first U.S. paper currency and income tax, and reformed the national banking system.
President Lincoln controlled the border slave states as the Civil War loomed. He rallied public opinion for the war effort within the Union states. A gentle man who neither hunted nor fished because he couldn’t bear to kill, Lincoln believed the nation could be peacefully reunited at the end of the bitter war. Then, just days after the war ended, Lincoln became the first U.S. President to be assassinated.
Today, the rail-splitter from Kentucky is one of America’s greatest heroes. Self-educated, honest, and hardworking, Lincoln embodies the notion that a common person can work their way to the nation’s highest office and become one of America’s most admired Presidents.
Series of 1902-03
In 1902, the Postmaster General commissioned an entirely new series of general issues. Until this time, the current regular issues had been in use since 1890 with relatively few changes.
The ornate new designs, however, were not the only addition to the 1902 series. The 13-cent denomination was added, and two new faces were introduced – Benjamin Harrison and Admiral David Farragut. For the first time in postal history, an American woman was honored.
A slight change was also made in the format. Each stamp in this series bears the inscription, “Series 1902.” This caused some concern abroad, as many European philatelists wondered whether the U.S. was planning on issuing new stamps each year. Many of the stamps, however, did not even reach post offices until 1903, and the next general issues were not produced until 1908.