1 ½¢ Martha Washington
1939 Presidential Series
Issue Date: January 20, 1939
First City: Washington, D.C.
Quantity Issued: 2,133,842,000 (total of both coil types)
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Rotary Press
Perforation: 10 vertically
Color: Bister brown
During the Revolutionary War, Martha Washington joined her husband at the Valley Forge encampment in Pennsylvania. There she organized a women’s sewing circle that mended clothes for the troops. She later moved on with Washington to his wartime camp in Morristown, New Jersey, and continued her services there.
The 1938 Presidential Series was printed on rotary press and perforated 11 x 10.5. In 1939, the 1¢ to 10¢ denominations were issued as coil stamps with 10 gauge perforations vertically. The 1¢ to 3¢ denominations were also issued with horizontal perforations.
Known affectionately as the “Prexies,” the 1938 Presidential series is a favorite among stamp collectors.
The series was issued in response to public clamoring for a new Regular Issue series. The series that was current at the time had been in use for more than a decade. President Franklin D. Roosevelt agreed, and a contest was staged. The public was asked to submit original designs for a new series picturing all deceased U.S. Presidents. Over 1,100 sketches were submitted, many from veteran stamp collectors. Elaine Rawlinson, who had little knowledge of stamps, won the contest and collected the $500 prize. Rawlinson was the first stamp designer since the Bureau of Engraving and Printing began producing U.S. stamps who was not a government employee.