Series of 1902-03 15¢ Clay
Issue Date: May 27, 1903
Quantity issued: 41,205,754 (estimate)
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Method: Flat plate
Watermark: Double line
Color: Olive green
This 15¢ stamp most often paid the rate for letters over 2 ounces to Europe, and on fourth class and Parcel Post packages. Due to the rates used at the time, blocks of four that saw genuine postal use are much more rare than mint blocks of the same number.
The 15¢ denomination pictures Henry Clay. To encourage prosperity and unite the different sections of our nation, Clay proposed “the American System.” This program of national planning included a protective tariff, a national bank, and government support of improvements for better transportation.
Henry Clay (1777-1852)
Born in Hanover County, Virginia, Clay established his home in Lexington, Kentucky. He was known by two nicknames that endure to this day: “The Great Compromiser,” and “the silver-tongued Kentuckian.” Clay was an American statesman for nearly 50 years. He served in Kentucky’s state legislature, as a U.S. congressman and senator, and as the U.S. secretary of state. He was well known for his eloquent speeches. Clay was the Whig Party candidate for President in 1844.
Clay’s compromises did a great deal to hold the nation together during the first half of the 1800s, as the North and South waged a political battle concerning slavery. He is best known as the author of the “Missouri Compromise.” This agreement permitted slavery in the new state of Missouri, but prohibited it in most of the Louisiana Territory, a huge area west of the Mississippi River.
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.