1940 10¢ Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain)
Famous Americans Series – Authors
Issue Date: February 13, 1940
First City: Hannibal, Missouri
Quantity Issued: 13,201,270
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Rotary Press
Perforation: 11x10 ½
Color: Dark Brown
“The Celebrated Jumping Frog Of Calaveras County”
On November 18, 1865, Mark Twain published an early version of “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” in The New York Saturday Press, bringing him his first significant fame.
During the Civil War, Mark Twain (born Samuel Clemens) lost his job as a steamboat pilot. He then made his way west to California and Nevada, making ends meet prospecting for silver and gold and writing for various newspapers and magazines. It was here that his first popular story was born.
During 1865, Twain spent about three months in the California mining camps at Jackass Hill and Angel’s Camp. There he met Jim and William Gillis and Dick Stroker. During their time together the men would share interesting stories, most notably, of a famed “jumping frog.”
Later that year, Twain returned to San Francisco and was invited by Artemus Ward to write a story for his travel book about the Nevada Territory. Twain was inspired by his time in that camp and wrote a story about the jumping frog. However, he sent it too late to be printed in the book. Ward’s publisher thought it was a good story though, so he sent it on to The New York Saturday Press.
Twain’s story first appeared with the title “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog” on November 18, 1865. The story was an instant success with readers and was soon printed in other newspapers and magazines around the country. Twain then reworked the story, retitled it “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” and published it in The Californian on December 16.
“The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” brought Twain his first major success as a writer. From this popularity, he put together a book of stories in 1867. Capitalizing on the success of the story, the book was titled The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, and Other Sketches.
Click here to read the full text of Twain’s story.
In 1938, the Post Office Department announced plans for a series of stamps recognizing 10 famous Americans and invited the public to submit recommendations. The response was so great that it was decided to increase the number from 10 to 35. This required an unexpected level of organization by the Post Office Department for this series.
Seven categories were decided upon – authors, poets, educators, scientists, composers, artists, and inventors. Each category of five has the same set of denominations – 1¢, 2¢, 3¢, 5¢, and 10¢. Each rate had a valid use. The 1¢ stamp paid for a letter that was dropped off at a post office to someone who had a box at the same office. The 2¢ was for local delivery. The 3¢ paid the normal non-local mail rate, and the 5¢ and 10¢ were used in combination for heavier letters and special rates. The denominations also shared a consistent coloring scheme: 1¢ is bright blue green; 2¢ is rose carmine; 3¢ is bright red violet; 5¢ is ultramarine; and 10¢ is dark brown.
Each category has its subjects arranged with the oldest birth date going on the 1¢ stamp, down to the most recent birth date on the 10¢ stamp. Each category has its own dedicated symbol in the engraving – a scroll, quill pen and inkwell for authors; a winged horse (Pegasus) for poets; the “Lamp of Knowledge” for educators; laurel leaves and the pipes of the Roman god Pan for composers; and inventors had a cogwheel with uplifted wings and a lightning flash to symbolize power, flight, and electricity.
The artists and the scientists have multiple symbols. Artists have either a paint palette and brush (for painters), and the sculptors have a stonecutting hammer and chisel. Scientists had the classical symbol of their particular profession.
The artists and the scientists had multiple symbols. Artists had either a paint palette and brush (for painters), and the sculptors had a stonecutting hammer and chisel. Scientists had the classical symbol of their particular profession.