1931 12¢ Grover Cleveland
Issue Date: August 25, 1931
First City: Washington, DC
The Most Perfect U.S. Stamps?
Issued as the U.S. spiraled into the Great Depression, the beautifully engraved Series of 1926-31 captures the spirit of America – the wisdom of our greatest leaders, the power of the majestic Niagara Falls, and the romance of the Wild West. This achievement is even more impressive when one considers the limitations the Bureau of Engraving and Printing worked with during the worldwide Depression.
“This series of definitive stamps represents, if not perfection, then at least a high degree of achievement by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.” – Noted philatelic author Gary Griffith
The Series of 1926-31 features the historic designs and patriotic symbolism of the Series of 1922. However, the new series was printed on a rotary intaglio press, saving time and money as it was printed in continuous rolls. The rolls were then threaded into a perforator, pulled through the machine under high tension, and perforated horizontally and vertically in a single step. A 10-gauge perforation had been the standard used to prevent the paper from tearing during production. To overcome complaints that stamps perforated 10 gauge were hard to separate, a quantity of the 2¢ stamps (U.S. #634, the first Series of 1926-31 denomination to be issued) were given experimental perforations of 11 x 101/2.
The experiment was a success – the stamps were sturdy enough to withstand the production process yet easy to separate for postal use. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing applied the compound perforations to the entire Series of 1926-31. In fact, the compound perforation stamps were so successful the format was used for the next 10 years, including the 1938 Presidential and 1954 Liberty Series.
Grover Cleveland (1837-1908)
22nd and 24th President
Grover Cleveland was the first Democrat elected to the White House after the Civil War. He was the only U.S. President to serve two terms that were not consecutive. Extremely honest and hardworking, Cleveland earned a reputation for saying “no” to special interests. In fact, he used his veto power more times than all previous Presidents combined. He remains the only President to have been married in the White House. His final words were, “I have tried so hard to do right.”
Cleveland was born in Caldwell, New Jersey, on March 18, 1837. Later, he moved to upstate New York, where he attended school until the age of 14. Cleveland was only 16 when his father died. At the age of 17, he began traveling west to find his fortune, intending to go to Cleveland, Ohio. However, he settled in Buffalo, New York, where he found work with his mother’s uncle, and eventually decided to become a lawyer. Cleveland was admitted to the bar in 1859.
He began his involvement with politics as a ward worker for the Democratic Party in Buffalo. In 1870 he was elected sheriff, and in 1881 he became mayor. Cleveland quickly became known for his honesty, and in 1882 he was chosen to run for governor of New York. Cleveland won the election by a large margin. When the Republican Party split over the nomination of a candidate involved in a financial scandal, the dissenting members, known as “Mugwumps,” said they would vote for a Democrat... as long as he was honest. The Democrats nominated Cleveland for President of the United States in 1884. Cleveland’s reputation played a large role in his victory.
Cleveland’s dedication to reform upset many groups who looked for the government to aid them. These groups included farmers, laborers, veterans, and industrialists. By the election of 1888, the tide of popularity had turned against him. Neither Cleveland nor the Democratic party waged a strong campaign, and the Republican candidate, Benjamin Harrison, won the election. However, by the end of Harrison’s term, the country was frustrated by high government expenditures and rising prices. Again, the nation turned to the sensible moderation of Cleveland. In 1892, Cleveland was re-elected President.