Series of 1923-26 5¢ Theodore Roosevelt
Issue Date: December, 1924
First City: Washington, D.C.
Quantity Issued: 431,983,000
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Rotary Press
U.S. #586 made its first appearance during the 1924 Christmas rush in precanceled form only. Precanceled stamps were sent to mass mailers, or to large post offices. It was later issued without precancel on April 4, 1925.
Teddy Roosevelt’s Uphill Battle – Fame and Frustration
Pictured on U.S. #586, Teddy Roosevelt called the charge up San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War “the great day of my life.” The only one of the Rough Riders with a horse, he rode back and forth between the rifle pits and the lead soldiers. Finally, he had to finish the climb on foot, as barbed wire emplacements prevented passage for “Little Texas,” his horse.
Roosevelt was nominated for the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroics, but it was turned down. In the weeks following the battle, malaria ravaged the remaining troopers. Roosevelt complained to the War Department and the press that the troops needed to be returned home. Secretary of War Russell Alger and President William McKinley were furious. Roosevelt believed that cost him the Medal. He was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2001, years after his death.
Rotary Presses Lead to Faster, Cheaper Production
Prior to 1923, the rotary press had been used in the production of coil stamps. It soon became apparent this was the fastest and most economical means of printing stamps. The rotary press could print 1000 stamps at a cost of .053 cents, compared to the conventional flat bed press cost of .08 cents. This difference of .027 cents is significant when one takes into consideration the fact that the Bureau printed millions of stamps each day.
Daily production rates jumped from 1,600,000 stamps on the flat bed press to 6,000,000 per day on the rotary press. Despite the increased production and lower costs, the Post Office Department was still skeptical. They finally decided a few stamps should be printed experimentally. At first, only the 1¢ Franklin was produced and used on a trial basis for six months.
The results were successful, proving that quality was not sacrificed for higher production. Shortly thereafter, the 2¢ Washington was produced on rotary presses as well. Eventually, new equipment was developed to improve the process, which resulted in the 1¢ through 10¢ being printed on the rotary press.