1929 Kansas-Nebraska Overprints
Issued: May 1, 1929
First City: Tecumseh, NE
Quantity Issued: 1,890,000
Printing Method: Rotary Press
Perforation: 11 x 10.5
Color: Orange yellow
Ohio And Nebraska Join The Union
Ohio became a state on March 1, 1803, and Nebraska joined the union 64 years later on the same day.
Early American Indians known as the Mound Builders lived in Ohio thousands of years ago. When Europeans first reached this area, they found Indians from the Delaware, Miami, Shawnee, and Wyandot (also known as the Huron).
History credits France’s Rene-Robert Cavelier, titled Sieur de La Salle, as the first European to visit Ohio in 1669. In fact, France claimed the entire American Northwest, based on La Salle’s explorations. However, the British claimed all of the land west of their Atlantic colonies, which included this area. Land ownership disputes resulted in the French and Indian War, which lasted from 1754-63. The British were victorious, and France relinquished most of its land claims west of the Mississippi.
Some of the fighting of the American Revolutionary War took place in Ohio. In 1780, troops under George Rogers Clark defeated the Shawnee Indians, who were allies of the British, at the Battle of Piqua. Clark’s victories in the Northwest were instrumental in securing the territory for the U.S. during the Revolution.
Ohio became part of the Northwest Territory in 1787. That year, the Northwest Ordinance passed, which provided the foundation for granting Ohio and other territories statehood. On April 7, 1788, the Ohio Company of Associates established Marietta, the first permanent European settlement in Ohio. That July, Marietta became the first capital in the Northwest Territory. Veterans of the American Revolution were rewarded for their service with land grants. Many of these veterans began settling along the Ohio River. For several years, Indian attacks disturbed the growth and prosperity of the settlements. Then, in 1794, General Anthony Wayne defeated the Indians at the Battle of Fallen Timbers. With peace restored, even more settlers moved to the region.
In 1800, the Division Act created the Indiana Territory out of the western part of the Northwest Territory, which was given the new capital of Chillicothe. In 1802, a convention met in Chillicothe to create a constitution in preparation for statehood. On March 1, 1803, Ohio became the 17th state to join the Union. The capital city changed several times during a relatively short period. First it was Chillicothe, then Zanesville, then Chillicothe again, and then Columbus – the present-day capital.
Now let’s take a trip west and follow Nebraska’s path to statehood…
Scientists believe humans may have lived in Nebraska as long as 25,000 years ago. When the first Europeans arrived in the area during the early 1700s, they found several American Indian tribes including the Missouri, Omaha, Otoe, Ponca, Pawnee, Sioux, Arapaho, and Cheyenne.
Though both France and Spain claimed the territory that included Nebraska as early as 1541, the first Europeans to set foot there didn’t arrive until nearly 200 years later. That likely occurred in 1739, when French explorers, brothers Pierre and Paul Mallet, traveled from Illinois to Santa Fe.
In 1803, the United States bought the vast Louisiana Territory, which included Nebraska, from France. President Thomas Jefferson sent an expedition led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to explore the Louisiana Territory in 1804. During their journey, Lewis and Clark explored the eastern portion of Nebraska. Explorer Zebulon M. Pike reached south-central Nebraska in 1806. From 1807 to 1820, the Spanish-American trader Manuel Lisa established several fur trading posts along the Missouri River. These included Fort Lisa, located about 10 miles from the site of today’s Omaha, Nebraska.
In 1819, the U.S. Army built Fort Atkinson on the Missouri River. This fort included Nebraska’s first school, library, sawmill, gristmill, and brickyard. Army Major Stephen H. Long led an expedition along the Northern Platte and Platte River valleys. Long declared the areas “unfit for farming,” calling it the “Great American Desert.”
Despite the establishment of fur trading posts, Nebraska was considered Indian land and was not available for settlement. Then, Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, creating these two territories and making them available for settlement. These territories would have been established earlier, but disagreements over slavery prevented Congress from doing so. Northerners wanted to ban slavery from new territories, while Southerners wanted to permit it. The Kansas-Nebraska Act allowed the people of the new territories to decide for themselves. The vast majority of Nebraskans were opposed to slavery.
In 1854, the Nebraska Territory included the land of the state of Nebraska and parts of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming and Colorado. Then in 1862, Congress passed the first Homestead Act, which granted 160 acres of free land to western settlers. Thousands of people came to settle in Nebraska. Congress created several new territories out of this larger territory, and by 1863, Nebraska was about its current size. The Union Pacific and Burlington railroads built lines through Nebraska, and advertised its farmland to people in the East and in Europe. By 1870, Nebraska had a population of 122,993 people.
On March 1, 1867, Congress admitted Nebraska to the Union, overriding President Andrew Johnson’s veto. Republican David Butler was elected the state’s first governor. President Johnson, a democrat, had opposed Nebraska’s statehood, as he believed the republican state’s two senators would allow impeachment proceedings, which were already in progress, to convict him.
Issued as part of the ongoing Bicentennial celebration, the 13¢ State Flags pane was a first in U.S. history. This was the first time a pane with 50 face-different stamps was issued. Each state is represented by its official flag, with the stamps arranged on the sheet in the same order each state was admitted into the Union.
Ohio State Flag
Ohio's state flag was adopted in 1902. A large blue triangle represents Ohio's hills and valleys, while the stripes represent roads and waterways. A circle of 13 stars represents the original states of the union. Four stars added to the peak of the triangle symbolize that Ohio was the 17th state admitted to the union. The white circle with its red center represents the "O" in Ohio and refers to the state’s nickname, "The Buckeye State."
The Bicentennial Series
The U.S. Bicentennial was a series of celebrations during the mid-1970s that commemorated the historic events leading to America’s independence from Great Britain. The official events began on April 1, 1975, when the American Freedom Train departed Delaware to begin a 21-month, 25,338-mile tour of the 48 contiguous states. For more than a year, a wave of patriotism swept the nation as elaborate firework displays lit up skies across the U.S., an international fleet of tall-mast sailing ships gathered in New York City and Boston, and Queen Elizabeth made a state visit. The celebration culminated on July 4, 1976, with the 200th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.
The U.S.P.S. issued 113 commemorative stamps over a six-year period in honor of the U.S. bicentennial, beginning with the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission Emblem stamp (U.S. #1432). As a group, the Bicentennial Series chronicles one of our nation’s most important chapters, and remembers the events and patriots who made the U.S. a world model for liberty.
The 10¢ Nebraska stamp was overprinted on U.S. #562, picturing James Monroe.
Gunslingers, Homesteaders, and Gangsters!
Nebraska played a key role in America’s westward expansion. Spurred by the Kansas-Nebraska Homestead Act, thousands of acres in Nebraska were claimed by settlers. Out of this rough and tumble pilgrimage came some of our nation’s most colorful characters – among them Wild Bill Hickok, Bat Masterson, and Wyatt Earp.
Although frontier towns in Nebraska would turn out a number of distinguished Americans – including President Gerald Ford, Fred Astaire and Henry Fonda – the lure of the West was tempting for some criminals. By the 1920s, machine gun-toting gangsters had replaced gunslingers, and small post offices in isolated communities were among their targets. Losses in one year alone totaled more than $200,000.00 (equal to nearly $7 million today). To make it more difficult for thieves to sell stolen postage stamps, Postal Inspector Louis Johnson proposed that stamps be overprinted with the name of the specific state where they would be distributed.
The idea of overprinting U.S. stamps to prevent theft wasn’t a new one – it had been suggested nearly 30 years earlier – but the newly invented rotary press now made the idea feasible and affordable. As one of the states victimized by postage stamp theft, Nebraska was selected for the experiment. If successful, authorities planned to distribute overprinted regular stamps to each U.S. state within one year.
Issued in Very Low Quantities – Some are Hard to Find
Although it had seen rapid growth, the population of Nebraska was relatively small in 1929. Based on projected needs, postal officials distributed relatively low numbers of Nebraska overprints. In fact, less than one 9¢ stamp was issued for every two people living in the state – a total of just 530,000 stamps for a population of 1,377,963!
The Nebraska Overprints were released on April 15, 1929 – and were met with immediate criticism and confusion. Some postmasters refused to honor them, believing that the “Nebr.” overprint meant that the stamps had been precancelled. In an era when postage stamps were often used to pay for merchandise, mail order giant Montgomery Ward protested that post offices outside Nebraska refused to accept overprinted stamps.
Others argued that the program was a farce intended to save money. They pointed out that small post offices were required to purchase an entire year’s supply of stamps at once under the plan, which cut government distribution costs by more than half. Those critics claimed that the overprints were a method to discourage would-be thieves from stealing the huge stockpiles of stamps that would be stored in poorly defended small towns as a result of the cost-cutting program. In the wake of such widespread criticism, officials halted the experiment in less than a year and let the existing supply of Nebraska overprint stamps exhaust itself.
“This series...represents, if not perfection, then at least a high degree of achievement...”
To create the Nebraska Overprints, postal officials overprinted the Series of 1926-28 rotary stamps. Described above by noted philatelic author Gary Griffith, the series features a superb blend of art and technology. Officials began with the finely engraved designs of the Series of 1922, which had been printed on flat plate presses and perforated 11. The introduction of the rotary press made it possible to print the Series of 1926-28 in high volumes at low cost. A slight change in perforation – 11 x 10 1/2 – also made them easier to separate. In fact, the 1926-28 stamp series was such a success that the Bureau of Engraving and Printing used the format for another 10 years.
Classic Stamps Document American History and Invention
As you can see, a number of compelling events are represented by the Nebraska Overprints – the marriage of traditionally engraved stamps with modern technology, the settlement of America’s West and the history of the great state of Nebraska. In fact, these Nebraska overprints may have carried news of the birth of actor Marlon Brando, the exploits of gangster Al Capone or boxer Max Baer’s record of 16 wins with 12 knock outs.