1926 Ericsson Memorial Issue
5¢ Statue of John Ericsson
First Day of Issue: May 29, 1926
First City: Washington, D.C., New York, NY, Chicago, IL, Minneapolis, MN
Quantity Issued: 20,280,000
Printing Method: Flat Plate
Color: Gray Lilac
The idea for the 1926 Ericsson Memorial Issue came from the John Ericsson Memorial Commission, which had raised funds to create a memorial to the inventor. Postmaster General Harry New approved the stamp with less resistance than almost any other issued during his tenure.
To accommodate the height of the statue, the stamp had to be vertical, and was the tallest U.S. stamp issued up to that time. The statue itself pictures Ericsson seated in a chair with figures representing Vision, Labor, and Adventure standing around the memorial. The view on the stamp shows Vision directly above Ericsson.
John Ericsson was born in Vermland, Sweden, in 1803. By the age of 14, he helped plan a canal. He joined the army three years later, where he received training in surveying. Ericsson moved to London in 1826 and spent 12 years patenting several inventions. The most significant was the screw propeller, which remains to this day the primary type of boat propulsion. He later moved to the U.S. and designed the Princeton, the first warship with the propeller and engines below the water line. After becoming a U.S. citizen in 1848, he designed a ship with a revolving gun turret. The first and most famous of these ships was the Monitor, which drastically changed the design of ships into the 20th century. The battle between the Monitor and the Merrimac during the Civil War was the first between two ironclad ships.
The Ericsson Memorial
In 1925, the John Ericsson Memorial Commission raised $60,000 through Congress and private donations to create a memorial in the inventor’s honor in Washington, D.C.’s Potomac Park. They also arranged for the prince and princess of Sweden, Ericsson’s homeland, to attend the ceremony, as well as President Calvin Coolidge.