37¢ Southeastern Lighthouses
Issue Date: June 13, 2003
City: Tybee Island, GA
Printed By: American Packaging Corporation for Sennett Security Products
Printing Method: Photogravure
Perforations: Serpentine Die Cut 10.75 x 10.25
Please note: Due to the layout of the pane, the se-tenant may or may not be provided in Scott Catalogue order.
The romance of lighthouses is reflected in this strip of five commemorative stamps picturing historic beacons from America’s southeast.
The original Cape Henry Light was abandoned as an active lighthouse in 1881. Despite several cracks in walls six-feet thick at the base, the tower still stands today.
Confederate troops tried to destroy the Cape Lookout Lighthouse in 1862. The lens was damaged, but later repaired. The Cape Lookout Lighthouse was painted in 1873 with the black-and-white, diagonally checkered pattern that still identifies it today.
Threatened by erosion, the Morris Island Lighthouse was abandoned in 1962. Today, it stands surrounded by water, about 1,600 feet from the shore.
The Tybee Island Lighthouse is still an important aid to ships navigating the mouth of the Savannah River. The 70,000-candlepower light can be seen for 18 miles.
The Hillsboro Inlet Lighthouse is a cast-iron skeleton with a central stair cylinder. It was displayed at the 1904 St. Louis Exposition before being erected at Hillsboro Inlet to guard the Florida Reef at Pompano Beach.
On April 26, 1990, the USPS issued the first booklet in its Lighthouse stamp series.
Beginning in 1986, the USPS began issuing topical booklets of five stamps each. Past topics had included fish, locomotives, classic cars, and steamboats. In April 1990, the set of lighthouse stamps would be the first of two such topical booklets issued that year.
Lighthouses had been featured on stamps in the past, but some lighthouse enthusiasts were calling for more. In 1987, James W. Hyland III, chairman of the Lighthouse Preservation Society, submitted a list of 10 lighthouses he thought should be honored on stamps to the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee. Initially, the committee supported his idea and proposed issuing 10 stamps in two panes honoring all of the lighthouses. However, the USPS felt that would make for too many stamps, so they opted to just issue five, though a sixth would be pictured on the booklet cover. Two of the six lighthouses had been on stamps before, Cape Hatteras and Sandy Hook.
The stamp designs were first unveiled on August 4, 1989, at the Customs House Maritime Museum in Newburyport, Massachusetts. August 4th was the anniversary of the creation of the Revenue Marine (later the Revenue Cutter Service). The stamps would be issued in 1990 to mark the 200th anniversary.
The stamps were issued on April 26, 1990, in Washington, D.C. Less than two weeks after they were issued, some booklets were discovered without the white intaglio ink for “USA” and the denomination. Some of these error books sold for over $500 each.
Five years later, the USPS issued a second booklet featuring lighthouses. They included two lighthouses from the list submitted in 1990, but all of the lighthouses in this set were ones found along the Great Lakes. Both of these sets proved quite popular, so the USPS continued issuing stamps honoring lighthouses from different areas of the country every few years, with the final issue coming in 2013.