Arago: Columbian Exposition Souvenir Sheets

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Columbian Exposition Souvenir Sheets

On May 22, 1992, the US Postal Service reissued the entire Columbian Exposition series of 1893 on souvenir sheets at the WORLD COLUMBIAN STAMP EXPO '92 in Rosemont, Illinois. For the first time, the United States issued stamps jointly with three other countries — Italy, Portugal, and Spain.

The US sheets were limited to a press run of only two million sets. All four countries' sheets were sold from May 22 to September 27, 1992, after which the remaining sheets were destroyed.

The Columbian souvenir sheets reproduced, as exactly as possible, the designs and colors of the original 1893 stamps, considered by most philatelists to be the first US commemorative stamps. The only design change is the date in the upper right corner of each stamp, altered from 1892 to 1992. The sixteen US stamps, ranging in value from one cent to $5, were produced in line-engraved intaglio from the original dies by the same company that produced the stamps in 1892, the American Bank Note Company.

The six sheets sold for the combined face value of $16.34 and were available only in complete sets. Five of the sheets include three different stamps from the original series next to background images based on old engravings and illustrations, while the sixth includes only the $5 stamp, text, and the background illustration. The background images were produced by single-color offset lithography. All of the US stamps were perforated and were valid for postage.

The designs for all four countries' sheets are the same, with language differences in text and country names and different denominations. On the Portuguese and Spanish sheets, each stamp has the same denomination (Portugal —260 escudos, Spain — 60 pesetas), with only one stamp design per sheet perforated and carrying a denomination. Italy's sheets, like the United States, contain sixteen perforated and denominated stamps, ranging in value from 50 to 5,000 lire. Richard Sheaff designed the stamps.

Reference:

Postal Bulletin (May 14, 1992).


Additional Records
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  • $4 Columbian single
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  • 5c Columbian single
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