1932 3¢ Discus Thrower
Summer Olympic Games
Issue Date: June 15, 1932
City: Los Angeles, CA
Quantity Issued: 52,376,100
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Rotary Press
Perforations: 11 X 10½
This stamp was issued in honor of the 1932 Summer Olympic Games. It covered the international letter rate and was used by athletes from other countries. The design is based on a classic Greek sculpture called Discobolus.
1932 Summer Olympic Games
The 1932 Summer Olympic Games were held in Los Angeles. Although the worldwide Great Depression prevented many nations from participating, 37 countries fielded Olympic teams.
A total of 1,408 athletes competed in 116 events. The United States dominated the events and won a total of 103 medals. Italy placed second with 36, followed by Finland with 25 medals.
The Games were notable for a number of “firsts.” An Olympic Village was erected for the first time to accommodate athletes participating in the 1932 Summer Olympic Games. U.S. President didn’t attend the Games, becoming the first sitting head of government to not appear at an Olympics hosted in that country. And it was the first time a victory podium was used.
Interestingly, the 1932 Summer Games were the only time Japan won a gold medal in the equestrian show jumping individual event. Takeichi Nishi – now known to history as Baron Nishi – was the gold medalist with his horse Uranus. Nishi died in 1945 as an officer defending the island of Iwo Jima and is the main character in the Clint Eastwood film, Letters from Iwo Jima.
First U.S. Olympic Stamp
On January 25, 1932, the US Post Office Department issued its first stamp honoring the Olympic Games.
1932 marked the third time the Winter Olympic Games were held, and the first time the event was held in the US. The games were held in Lake Placid, a small town in upstate New York that was home to less than 3,000 year-round residents.
The Lake Placid Chamber of Commerce asked the village postmaster to suggest a commemorative stamp for the event. A New York congressman helped persuade reluctant officials, and the stamp was approved.
The 2¢ Winter Olympic Games stamp was issued on January 25, 1932, just days before the opening ceremonies, and was sold only in Lake Placid and Washington, DC. Demand for the stamp was heavy from the moment the Lake Placid Post Office opened at 7 a.m. until mid-morning when its entire supply of 400,000 stamps was exhausted. State police were called in to control the crowd.
Postal officials soon received some criticism as the ski jumper was pictured in an unnatural position. However, the stamp was generally popular with the public.
Less than five months later, the Post Office issued its second and third Olympics stamps, honoring the summer games. Both stamps were issued on June 15, 1932, in Los Angeles, California, the site of the games. The first stamp, #718, pictured a runner at the starting mark. Its release was delayed because the first class rate was scheduled to be changed. The increase to 3¢ was signed into law on June 6, and #718 was released the following week. There was a large demand for this stamp, so they were on sale for just a short time.
The second stamp, #719, covered the international letter rate and was used by athletes from other countries. The design was based on a classic Greek sculpture called Discobolus.
It would be nearly 30 years before the US issued another stamp honoring the Olympics. That issue, #1146, commemorated the 1960 Winter Olympics held in Squaw Valley, California. All covers were postmarked “Olympic Valley, California” – which was a station for the Tahoe City Post Office. The station had been established specifically to handle visitors to the Olympic games.
Since 1972, the USPS has issued stamps for most Summer and Winter Olympic Games. You can see them all here.