On July 4, 1957, the United States Post Office introduced its inaugural postage stamp, featuring the US flag as its central motif. This US flag stamp, also notable for being the first to utilize the Giori press, enabled the printing of the design in its authentic colors in a single step.
How did this stamp come out? Keep reading!
The Preceding Stamp Designs
Prior to this groundbreaking stamp, the US flag had appeared as a component of various stamp designs, including the Eagle and Shield Pictorial, the Francis Scott Key stamp, and the 1952 Lafayette issue. In 1957, the US Post Office announced its intention to release a new stamp dedicated to the flag, prominently showcasing its natural colors.
Public Reception and Controversy
Upon learning of this decision, some collectors and citizens expressed their dismay, perceiving the cancellation of the stamps as disrespectful. They inundated the post office with indignant letters, referencing the American legal code prohibiting the national emblem’s reproduction for disloyal or commercial purposes.
Conversely, many individuals appreciated the stamp, lauding its aesthetically pleasing colors and patriotic design. The US Post Office defended its creation, stating that the stamp aimed to serve as a reminder of America’s rich heritage and hard-fought liberty.
Stamp Release and Technological Advancements
Despite the controversy surrounding its conception, the stamp was issued as planned on July 4, 1957, in Washington, DC. This stamp was the first to replicate the flag’s natural colors in a single operation, made possible by the recently acquired Giori Press in 1955.
The “Giori Press,” a ground-breaking device that Gualtiero Giori created, allowed for the simultaneous production of stamps in various colors. Separate rollers applied distinct hues, allowing for the creation of multicolored stamps throughout the 1960s and 70s.
Evolution of the Flag Stamp
Exactly two years after the initial stamp’s release, the US Post Office introduced another flag stamp labeled #1132. This new stamp featured a flag adorned with 49 stars, symbolizing the inclusion of Alaska as the 49th state.
According to a rule dating back to 1818, stars representing new states joining the Union were added to the flag on the first July 4 following their inclusion. The stamp was issued in Auburn, New York, the hometown of William H. Seward, who played a vital role in the acquisition of Alaska.
Commemorating America’s 50th State
One year later, on Independence Day, the US flag again took center stage with the release of a new stamp, #1153. This stamp displayed the 50-star flag, representing Hawaii, the country’s 50th state.
The stamp marked the beginning of a series featuring the 50-star US flag. Despite objections voiced in 1957, the US flag has become one of the most popular subjects featured on US postage stamps, with new flag-themed stamps issued almost yearly.