Series of 1923-26 1¢ Ben Franklin
Issue Date: July 19, 1924
First City: Washington, D.C.
Quantity Issued: 174,848,250
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Rotary Press
Perforation: 10 horizontally
Color: Yellow green
U.S. # 604 was ready for production in early January 1924, but wasn’t issued until later that year. There were still a large number of 1¢ coil stamps from the Washington-Franklin series available, and there was little demand for #604. It was released in July, without advance notice. Still, collectors were able to obtain First Day Covers.
Ben Franklin – A Compromise Choice for First Stamp
Ben Franklin, shown on U.S. #604, was honored by being made the subject for the very first U.S. postage stamp – but his selection was a compromise to the tense political climate. Cave Johnson, the Postmaster General in 1847, instructed printer Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Edson to make the 5¢ denomination in the likeness of Andrew Jackson, who had died two years earlier. But Jackson was later replaced by Franklin.
Andrew Jackson had been a dominant force in American politics during the first half of the 19th century. He was mentor to a block of politicians called the “Jacksonian Democrats – a number of whom ended up following in his footsteps as President. One such politician was James Polk, who was President in 1847. But Jackson and his followers were primarily Southern politicians, and his choice was a delicate subject as slavery was already splitting the nation apart.
Franklin was considered an excellent replacement. As a Founding Father, he was a symbol of American independence. As the first Postmaster General of the United States, he represented a strong link to the department. On July 1, 1847, Ben Franklin and George Washington appeared on the first U.S. postage stamps. Since that time, over 130 stamps have carried Franklin’s image.