Series of 1923-26 3¢ William McKinley
Issue Date: March 29, 1926
First City: Washington, D.C. and Niles, OH
Quantity Issued: 80,012,000
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Rotary Press
U.S. #588 is the least common of the 10-perf Series of 1923-26 stamps, having been current for only 10 months after being issued. It was the second stamp to feature William McKinley, who has been assassinated in 1901 by anarchist Leon Czolgosz.
McKinley was shot at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. The doctors were unable to find a second bullet, and failed to use one of the Exposition’s scientific displays – an X-ray machine. Also, McKinley was carried to the Exposition’s emergency hospital, which didn’t have any of the electric lighting so prominently displayed through the event. The medical staff was hindered by the poorly lit conditions. The President appeared to improve, and the doctors feared that search might do more harm than good. However, the wound became infected, and McKinley died eight days later, on September 14, 1901.
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.