Series of 1922-25 25¢ Niagara Falls
Flat Plate Printing
Issue Date: November 11, 1922
First City: Washington, DC
Quantity Issued: 107,616,077
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Flat plate
Perforation: 11 gauge
Niagara Falls State Park
On July 15, 1885, The Niagara Reservation State Park (later renamed Niagara Falls State Park) became America’s first state park.
Native Americans of the Neutral Nation lived in the area around the falls before the arrival of Europeans in the 1600s. Robert de La Salle built Fort Conti at the mouth of the Niagara River and a Belgian priest was the first known European to see the falls.
The falls quickly became a popular tourist spot and by the early 1800s, America’s “honeymoon capital.” Authors, poets, and artists would journey to the falls as well, to capture their natural beauty for all those who couldn’t make the trip themselves.
By the early 19th century, mills and factories were built along the Niagara River to harness its power. As a result, the beautiful Niagara Falls was beginning to suffer from the effects of reduced water flow. Additionally, private concessions companies found ways to capitalize on the spot, building tall fences so people had to pay to see the falls.
The situation at the falls was so dire, it was used as one of the arguments for establishing Yellowstone as the first national park in 1872. Yellowstone supporters argued that if the area wasn’t protected, it could suffer the same misuse as Niagara Falls.
Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted began calling for the preservation of the falls in the 1860s. He and artist Frederic Church founded the Free Niagara movement in the 1870s to reclaim the falls and surrounding area for the enjoyment of the public. Their work gained the attention of the New York State Legislature, which tasked Olmsted and state surveyor James T. Gardner with producing a report on the condition of the falls. Their report called for more public access to the falls and recommended that the state purchase the lands for their protection. The Free Niagara movement then launched a campaign to bring the issue to national attention.
Olmsted then formed the Niagara Falls Association in 1883, which pushed further for the state to purchase the property. On April 30 of that year, then-governor Grover Cleveland signed a bill permitting the “selection, location, and appropriation of certain lands in the village of Niagara Falls for a state reservation.” Two years later, the Niagara Reservation was officially created on July 15, 1885. The park is considered the oldest continuously operating state park in the nation.
Concurrent with the efforts to save the falls on the US side, a similar campaign was launched in Canada. The Queen Victoria Niagara Falls Park was established in 1888. At one point there were plans to establish an international park, but that never gained traction.
America’s Niagara Reservation was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1963. In 2007, the park was named the 10th most beautiful spot in America by The Today Show. Today the park contains 221 acres and hosts nearly 10 million visitors per year.
Click here for more about the park from its official website.
The Series of 1922-25
and the Wheels of Progress
In 1847, when the printing presses first began to move, they didn’t roll – they “stamped” in a process known as flat plate printing. The Regular Series of 1922 was the last to be printed by flat plate press, after which stamps were produced by rotary press printing.
By 1926, all denominations up to 10¢ – except the new ½¢ – were printed by rotary press. For a while, $1 to $5 issues were done on flat plate press due to smaller demand.
In 1922, the Post Office Department announced its decision to issue a new series of stamps to replace the Washington-Franklin series, which had been in use since 1908. Many criticized the change, believing it was being made to satisfy collectors rather than to fill an actual need. However, the similar designs and colors of the current stamps caused confusion, resulting in a substantial loss in revenue each year. In busy situations, postal clerks could not tell at a glance if the correct postage was being used.
Postal employees requested a variety of designs which could easily be distinguished from one another. Great care was taken to make sure the new designs could not be confused. Although the frames are similar, the vignettes (central designs) are distinctive. Prominent Americans, as well as scenes of national interest, were chosen as subjects for the new series.
In addition to issuing new designs, the Department developed a plan to first distribute a small number of each stamp on a particular date in a selected town which was of historical and geographical significance to the subject. The plan greatly increased interest and began a new trend of collecting stamps on covers or envelopes postmarked on the first day of issue.