1926-28 Rotary Stamps
4¢ Martha Washington
First Day of Issue: May 17, 1927
First City: Washington, D.C.
Printing Method: Rotary Press
Perforation: 11 x 10 ½
Color: Yellow brown
The portrait of America’s first First Lady on U.S. #636 is often incorrectly attributed solely to Gilbert Stuart. It actually comes from a crayon drawing by French artist Charles Francois Jalabert, who based his work on the Stuart portrait.
This stamp was in use for the shortest amount of time of all the low values of the series. Its replacement with a stamp honoring former President William H. Taft caused some controversy in 1930.
Perfecting Perforations on Rotary Stamps
When the Bureau began printing sheets on the rotary press, they found 11 gauge perforations were too fine, causing the stamps to separate prematurely. This resulted in the perforations being changed back to 10 gauge perforations, which had first been used in 1915. Once again, objections were raised, and the Bureau began looking for a way to perforate the stamps so they were strong enough to resist premature separation, yet fine enough to be separated without difficulty. The solution was found in a compromise that resulted in a new perforation – the 10 1/2 gauge.
This perforation seemed to please everyone and was adopted as the new standard for rotary press sheets. In the words of Linn’s author Gary Griffith, the 1926-28 Compound Perforation rotary stamps represent “if not perfection, then at least a high degree of achievement...”