1998 32¢ “The Great Train Robbery”
Celebrate the Century – 1900s
Issue Date: February 3, 1998
City: Washington, DC
Printed By: Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed
Perforations: 11 ½
“The Great Train Robbery,” released in 1903 by the Edison Company, was one of the most successful commercial films of its time. Directed by Edwin S. Porter, this film was among the earliest to tell a story. Produced at the beginning of motion-picture history, it was important for other reasons as well.
In the first decade of the 1900s, public exhibitions of motion pictures became a popular form of entertainment. By 1908, thousands of nickelodeon theaters, charging only 5 cents for admission, had opened in America’s cities. “The Great Train Robbery,” along with other storytelling movies that followed, led the way for this breakthrough in motion-picture viewing.
“The Great Train Robbery” held the screen for at least ten years. The 11-minute film told the story of four bandits who rob a train and are then pursued by a posse. Porter is the first director known to use modern film techniques, cutting back and forth in time to tell this story.
The stamp design for “The Great Train Robbery” is based on a famous scene from the motion picture, where actor Justus Barnes slowly turns toward the audience to fire his pistol. This scene is a classic example of why “The Great Train Robbery” came to be known as America’s first western movie.