1940 3¢ Cyrus McCormick
Famous Americans Series – Inventors
Issue Date: October 14, 1940
First City: Lexington, Virginia
Quantity Issued: 54,193,580
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Rotary Press
Perforation: 10 ½ x 11
Color: Bright red violet
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.
Death Of Cyrus McCormick
Inventor and businessman Cyrus McCormick died on May 13, 1884, in Chicago, Illinois.
Cyrus Hall McCormick was born on February 15, 1809, in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. He was the oldest of eight children born to inventor Robert McCormick, Jr. Around the same time Cyrus was born, his father began working on a design for a mechanical reaper. He spent 28 years working on the design but never managed to make it right. So Cyrus went on to take up the project himself.
McCormick worked with Jo Anderson on the design. While some machines were designed to be pushed by horses, McCormick worked on a machine that would be pulled by horses and cut the grain on one side of the team. In 1831, McCormick held one of the first demonstrations of his new machine. He said he had developed the finalized version in 18 months. McCormick was then granted the patent for his reaper on June 21, 1834.
During this time, McCormick and his family also had a blacksmith and metal smelting business, which nearly went bankrupt during the Panic of 1837. McCormick began holding more demonstrations of his machine, but most local farmers thought it was unreliable. McCormick continued to improve on his original design and eventually began to sell more – seven in 1842, then 29 in 1843, and 50 in 1844. The following year, he got another patent for the improvements made to the reaper.
Up until this point, the machines were all built in the family farm shop. But McCormick soon realized that he was receiving orders for reapers from out west, where the farms were larger and flatter. McCormick then contracted to have his machines mass-produced at a factory in New York. In 1847, he and his brother opened their own factory in Chicago. The business prospered after that, aided by railroads that could help deliver the machines and replacement parts much quicker than ever before.
In 1851, McCormick took his reaper to the Crystal Palace Exhibition in London. His reaper successfully harvested a field while the Hussey machine (Obed Hussey who had a competing patent claim) failed. McCormick then won a gold medal and was admitted to the Legion of Honor, but also found out he had lost a court challenge of Hussey’s patent. By 1856, McCormick’s factory was producing over 4,000 reapers per year. Then in 1871, the factory burned down during the Great Chicago Fire, but he rebuilt it and reopened in 1873.
McCormick was a devout Presbyterian all his life and committed much of his time and money to helping others. He helped create the Theological Seminary of the Northwest (later named the McCormick Theological Seminary) and donated $10,000 to help start the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA). McCormick and his wife also donated money to Tusculum College and helped create churches and Sunday Schools in the South after the Civil War. During the last 20 years of his life, McCormick was a benefactor and served on the board of trustees for Washington and Lee University.
After suffering a stroke in 1880, McCormick died on May 13, 1884, in his home in Chicago. He received many honors during and after his life – the French named him an Officer of the Legion of Honor and he was elected to the French Academy of Sciences for “having done more for the cause of agriculture than any other living man.” Many credit McCormick’s reaper with reducing human labor on farms, increasing productivity, and being a driving force in the industrialization of agriculture in dozens of nations.