4 ½¢ White House
1939 Presidential Series
Issue Date: January 20, 1939
First City: Washington, D.C.
Quantity Issued: 16,235,000
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Rotary Press
Perforation: 10 vertically
Color: Dark gray
This 132-room mansion is the official residence of the U.S. President. President Monroe originally named it the Executive Mansion, in 1818. Later, it was called the President’s Mansion, the President’s Home, and the President’s Palace. In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt gave the current title: The White House.
Known affectionately as the “Prexies,” the 1938 Presidential series is a favorite among stamp collectors.
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.
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.