Series of 1923-26 8¢ Ulysses S. Grant
Issue Date: May 29, 1926
First City: Washington, D.C.
Quantity Issued: 165,921,000
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Rotary Press
Color: Olive green
The 8¢ denomination of U.S. #589 had multiple uses. It paid the cost of a four-ounce letter, or in the mid-1920s could pay the airmail rate for a single transcontinental zone. And from 1932-34, it paid the basic airmail rate.
Ulysses S. Grant’s Autobiography Was Huge Success
Ulysses S. Grant, shown on the Series of 1923-26 8¢ denomination, was beloved as a Civil War hero and former President of the United States. The scandals that rocked his administration did not include him personally. But he never was able to succeed at business, and by the mid-1880s another one failed and left him deeply in debt. By this time, Grant was also dying from throat cancer. He managed to write his memoirs, finishing them a few days before his death. Their publication proved to be tremendously successful, both critically and financially, gaining $450,000 for his family.
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.