Series of 1902-03 $1 Farragut
Issue Date: June 5, 1903
Quantity issued: 504,374
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Method: Flat plate
Watermark: Double line
U.S. #311 is the highest value of the Series of 1902-03 that actually had a postal need. It was used for foreign bound packages. The $1 Farragut stamp was issued in very low quantities, prompting philatelic author Max Johl to note in 1937, “collectors who have not obtained copies of this stamp are advised to do so as the available supply in entirely inadequate in mint condition to fill the needs of U.S. collectors.”
Since 1870, Commodore Perry had adorned the 90¢ and later the $1 stamp, but with the appearance of Admiral David Farragut, Perry disappeared from the face of stamps. A Union naval commander during the Civil War, Admiral Farragut’s brilliant military career is represented by a sailor supporting a boat hook on the right and a soldier holding a musket on the left.
Farragut and the Battle of Mobile Bay
The Union victory in the Battle of Mobile Bay was a turning point in the American Civil War. A key component of the Union strategy was a naval blockade to limit the delivery of supplies to the South. Three years after the war began, all but two major ports had been effectively closed. Of the two, Mobile Bay in Alabama was protected by two forts, shallow channels, and submerged mines. At dawn on August 5, 1864, Union Admiral David Farragut sailed a fleet of four ironclad monitors and 14 wooden warships through the channel past the 47 cannons of Fort Morgan. At the end of an intense battle, Mobile Bay was closed to blockade runners, and the Confederate supply chain was broken.
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.