1913 5¢ Panama-Pacific Exposition Commemorative
Issue Date: February 6, 1915
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Method: Flat plate
Watermark: Single line
The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the largest suspension bridges in the entire world. It spans a distance of 4,200 feet between the towers, and is wide enough to accommodate a six-lane highway and sidewalks.
The first of the Panama-Pacific commemoratives was issued on December 26, 1912, to publicize the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition, a World’s Fair commemorating the completion of the Panama Canal and the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the Pacific Ocean. The new stamps were popular with the public. However, it wasn’t long before the Post Office Department began hearing complaints that the stamp’s paper was too brittle.
In an effort to make the stamps stronger, perforating machines were altered from 12 perforations per two centimeters to 10 perforations per two centimeters. The Panama-Pacific commemoratives were among the first stamps to be reissued with the higher gauge perforations. Scott #403 was one of those important reissued stamps.
Issued on February 7, 1915, over two years after #399 (the perf. 12 stamp with the same design), #403 was current only until the end of the Exposition, on December 4th. In addition, many collectors back then didn’t have easy access to a standardized stamp reference book to help identify look-alike stamps. Thus, stamps like #403 were often ignored by the collecting community.
Issued When the Engraver’s Art Reigned Supreme
Many collectors consider #403 one of the most attractive stamps ever issued by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Some even consider it superior to the 5¢ stamp from the Pan-American series – in spite of the two-color printing of the latter stamp. The best way to truly appreciate this stamp is through close personal examination, as it’s really a miniature masterpiece. You need to look at it closely under a magnifying glass and examine one delicate line of the engraving – imagining the engraver slowly cutting it into a flat metal plate. Then widen your vision just a small amount and see how the lines begin to blend together forming shadows and shapes. When you examine the entire vignette (the central portion of the design) you’ll marvel at how the engraver captured – by painstakingly carving all those tiny individual lines – the natural beauty of sunrise on San Francisco Bay.