Arago: 3-cent Jefferson

3-cent Jefferson

The purple 3-cent value of the 1938 Presidential Series features an image of Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), one of the most influential founders of the United States and the nation's third president (1801-09). A bust on display in the Congressional Library inspired the stamp's vignette. A genius and an enigma, it was Jefferson who wrote the Declaration of Independence but also owned slaves.

With over 130 billion stamps printed, more than any other value in the Presidential Series, this 3-cent stamp was the 'workhorse' of the mail during the 1940s and early 1950s. The stamp can be found in four formats—a sheet stamp (issued June 16, 1938), a sidewise (horizontal) coil (issued January 20, 1939), a vertical (endwise) coil (issued January 27, 1939), and in pane format (issued January 27, 1939).

The most common way to find a single stamp usage is on a first-class domestic envelope. This rate was in effect July 1, 1932-July 31, 1958. The 3-cent stamp could also pay the international postcard fee, in effect July -9, 1934, through July 31, 1958, and the three-cents-per-ounce Pan American Union and Spain Treaty rate on letters addressed to South America and Spain, in effect October 4, 1932, through October 31, 1953.


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