May 2018

This Day in History… May 14, 1918

Discovery of the Inverted Jenny 

U.S. #4806a – A 2013 Inverted Jenny printed with the original dies.

On May 14, 1918, stamp collector William Robey discovered the now sought-after Inverted Jenny, #C3a.

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing was in a rush to produce America’s first airmail stamp. Because the stamps were to be bi-colored, each sheet would be fed through the press twice – once to print the red frame and a second pass to print the blue vignette. In the rush, nine of the 20,000 sheets printed had been hand-fed through the printing press upside down. The mistake created an inverted vignette and positioned the plate number on the bottom selvage. At some point, eight sheets were found in the BEP office and destroyed. However, a single sheet made its way to the New York Avenue post office branch in Washington, DC.

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This Day in History… May 13, 1884

Death of Cyrus McCormick 

US #891 from the Famous Inventors issue.

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 would spend 28 years working on the design but never managed to make it right. So Cyrus would go on to take up the project himself.

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This Day in History… May 12, 1820

Birth of Florence Nightingale 

Australia #284 pictures Nightingale and a young nurse.

Nurse and social reformer Florence Nightingale was born on May 12, 1820, in Florence, Tuscany, Italy.

Nightingale’s family moved back to England the year after she was born. In 1838, the family toured Europe, during which time Nightingale met Parisian hostess Mary Clarke. The two women became close friends and Clarke instilled in Nightingale the idea that women could be equal to men, something her family never proposed.

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This Day in History… May 11, 1935

The Rural Electrification Administration

US #2144 was the ninth stamp in the Anniversaries of Government Agencies series, begun in 1983.

On May 11, 1935, President Franklin Roosevelt signed legislation establishing the Rural Electrification Administration (REA).

After America’s electric industry took off in the 1880s, electricity began to become widespread in cities. Around 1910, city homes and businesses were getting electricity in large numbers. Meanwhile, only one farm in ten had electricity.

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This Day in History… May 10, 1908

The First Mother’s Day

US #737 pictures James A. Whistler, Portrait of My Mother.

On May 10, 1908, the first official Mother’s Day celebration was held in Grafton, West Virginia.

In the 1800s, many women’s groups worked to create holidays to promote peace, including special meetings of mothers whose sons had fought or died on opposing sides of the Civil War. In 1868, Ann Jarvis formed a committee to create a Mother’s Friendship Day “to reunite families that had been divided during the Civil War.”

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This Day in History… May 9, 1936

Opening of TIPEX

US #778 was issued on the opening day of TIPEX.

On May 9, 1936, the Third International Philatelic Exhibition (TIPEX) opened at Grand Central Palace in New York City.

The show opened its doors to the public at 9:30 am that Saturday morning to thousands of excited collectors. The official opening ceremonies went underway at 1 pm when the US Army released a flock of carrier pigeons from Rockefeller Plaza. Those pigeons carried invitations to President Franklin Roosevelt, Vice President John Nance Garner, the governors of all the states, and other US officials.

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