2007 41¢ Pacific Lighthouses
Issue Date: June 21, 2007
City: Westport, WA
Printed By: Avery Dennison
Printing Method: Photogravure
Perforations: Serpentine die cut 11
Please note: Due to the layout of the pane, the se-tenant may or may not be provided in Scott Catalogue order.
Often built in isolated locations, miles from cities and towns, lighthouses have developed a certain mysterious charm and romantic aura over the years. Although the lighthouse keepers of old are gone, lighthouses with automated lights continue their important work of helping ships to reach their destination safely.
Located off California’s northern coast, St. George Reef Lighthouse marks a hazardous reef six miles from California’s shore, near Crescent City. It was first lit in 1892 and deactivated in 1975 because it was considered dangerous for light keepers to get to. It was re-lit in 2002.
Winchester Bay, Oregon, is the site of the Umpqua River Lighthouse. It was originally lit in 1857 to mark dangerous shifting sandbars that had caused many shipwrecks. Six years after its construction, the lighthouse collapsed from heavy rains and flooding. A new lighthouse was rebuilt in 1894, using alternating red and white lights. It remains standing today.
Washington’s Gray’s Harbor lighthouse was first lit in 1898 to mark the channel into one of America’s most important lumber ports. Located in fog-prone northern Washington state, the light was also equipped with a windmill that powered two trumpet foghorns.
Discovery of gold in the Yukon created a need for the Five Finger Islands Lighthouse in Frederick Sound, Alaska. First lit in 1902, the lighthouse burned down in 1933, but was rebuilt through President Franklin Roosevelt’s public works program in 1935.
The island of Oahu, Hawaii, is the site of the Diamond Head Lighthouse, built on the side of an extinct volcano. The lighthouse, which stands 147 feet above sea level, was first lit in 1918. The light can be seen for 18 miles, and has a red sector to warn ships of the reefs off Waikiki 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.