U.S. # 4792
2013 46¢ Portsmouth Harbor, New Hampshire
New England Coastal Lighthouses
A light in Portsmouth Harbor, New Hampshire, was lit even before America was a nation. As part of Fort William and Mary, it was the first lighthouse at a military base in the British colonies and the first one north of Boston. The wooden station with copper oil lamps was completed in 1771.
The lighthouse went dark during the American Revolution, though the tower was used as a lookout post. After the war, President George Washington ordered that the lamps be lit at all times and a keeper live on the site. Having the lighthouse so close to the military installation led to extra duties, because cannon fire broke the windows and soldiers tried to steal the keeper’s supplies.
In 1878, the wooden tower was replaced with a cast-iron lighthouse, a rarity in its day. It was built inside the old one, which was removed when the new building was complete.
During this time, Joshua K. Card became keeper of the light, a position he held for 35 years. Upon his death in 1911, the local paper called Card “a man of rare powers of observation and expression.” Unexplained footsteps, voices, and shadows have led some to believe he never left the lighthouse, but is still keeping watch over Portsmouth Harbor.
Howard E. Paine and Greg Breeding used Howard Koslow’s original painting for the Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse stamp. Koslow’s paintings, based on modern photographs, have been used for all of the lighthouse stamps since the series began in 1990. His art has appeared on a number of other U.S. stamps since 1971.
Value: 46¢ 1-ounce first-class letter rate
Issued: July 13, 2013
First Day City: New Castle, NH
Type of Stamp: Commemorative
Printed by: Banknote Corporation of America for Sennett Security Products
Method: Lithograph printing in sheets of 120 in 6 panes of 20
Perforation: Serpentine Die Cut 11 x 10 ¾
Quantity Printed: 16,200,000 stamps
Portsmouth Harbor, as well as the other four lighthouses honored on the 2013 stamps, is one of the oldest in the U.S. and is included on the National Register of Historic Places.
Other issues in the Lighthouse series include:
1990 Lighthouses (U.S. #2470-74)
1995 Great Lakes Lighthouses (U.S. #2969-73)
2003 Southeastern Lighthouses (U.S. #3787-91)
2007 Pacific Lighthouses (U.S. #4146-50)
2009 Gulf Coast Lighthouses (U.S. #4409-13)