Series of 1902-03 13¢ Harrison
Issue Date: November 18, 1902
Quantity issued: 31,290,174 (estimate)
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Method: Flat plate
Watermark: Double line
Color: Purple black
This was the first stamp of the series to go on sale and the first 13¢ U.S. stamp to be issued. Used on international mail, it prepaid the rate for a 1/2 ounce letter to any country in the Postal Union, 10¢ for registered fee and 3¢ for postage.
Officials expected heavy demand for the 13¢ stamp, anticipating its use in place of an 8¢ stamp for the Registry fee and a 5¢ stamp for postage on letters to foreign destinations. However, the public rejected the stamps and sales were the lowest of any of the denominations under 50¢.
Benjamin Harrison (1833-1901)
23rd U.S. President
Benjamin Harrison was born August 20, 1833, in North Bend, Ohio. Harrison was named after his great-grandfather, who was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. His grandfather was America’s 9th President, William Henry Harrison. His father, John Scott Harrison, served two terms in Congress. With his family’s political background, Harrison’s name was familiar to voters.
Harrison was elected city attorney of Indianapolis in 1857, secretary of the Republican state central committee in 1858, and began the first of three terms as the reporter of the state supreme court in 1860. He recruited and commanded a regiment of Indiana volunteers for service in the Civil War, and achieved the rank of brigadier general. After the war, Harrison won a national reputation as a lawyer. In 1876, he made an unsuccessful run for governor of Indiana. In 1879, President Rutherford B. Hayes appointed him to the Mississippi River Commission. Harrison had just been elected to the U.S. Senate when President James A. Garfield offered him a cabinet post, but he refused this office.
Harrison was selected as the Republican candidate for President in 1888, largely based on his popularity as a soldier. He lost the popular vote by more than 90,000 votes. However, he won the electoral vote. Four key pieces of legislation were passed during Harrison’s Presidency: The Sherman Antitrust Act, which outlawed trusts and monopolies; the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, which put more money in circulation, causing inflation and helping farmers pay their debts; the McKinley Tariff Act, which set tariffs on foreign goods and farm products at record highs; and the Dependent Pension Bill, which gave pensions to all Civil War veterans unable to perform manual labor.
Harrison was defeated in his attempt for re-election. After leaving office, he returned to practicing law. He published a book about the federal government, “This Country of Ours,” in 1897. In 1899, he represented Venezuela in a border dispute with Great Britain over British Guiana. Harrison died at home on March 13, 1901.
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.