There are three versions of the 5-cent Circus Wagon issue, one engraved and two printed by the photogravure process. The stamp illustrates a four-wheeled wagon of the sort used by many circuses as the homes for animals and performers during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Horses usually pulled the wagons, but one Ringling Brothers wagon was pulled by sixteen camels.
The engraved version of the stamp was released on Aug 31, 1990, at the annual convention of the American First Day Cover Society in Syracuse, New York. Designed by Susan Stanford of Washington, D.C., it was printed on the B press by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Gary Chaconas engraved the vignette, and Gary Slaght engraved the lettering and numerals. There were 71,806 first day covers. Plate 1 was issued both with overall tagging in coils of five hundred and 3,000 stamps. Plate 2 without tagging appeared only in coils of 3,000 stamps.
The first photogravure version of the 5-cent Circus Wagon was printed by Guilford Gravure of Guilford, Connecticut, for the American Banknote Corporation. It was released in Cincinnati, Ohio, on December 8, 1992. Printed on the Andreotti press 601 in coils of 10,000, plate numbers are spaced at intervals of twenty-four stamps. Unlike stamps printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the plate number on stamps printed by the American Banknote Corporation is preceded by the letter "A." There are three plate numbers in the format A1, A2, and A3. A3 was printed with luminescent ink. None are particularly scarce.
The second photogravure version of the 5-cent Circus Wagon is readily identifiable by the fact that the denomination appears as "5¢" rather than as "05." It was printed by Stamp Venturers on a Champlain webfed gravure press 1. The stamp was released on March 20, 1995, in Kansas City, Missouri. The year of issue appears in the lower left corner of every stamp. There were 20,835 first day covers.
The plate number appears every fourteen stamps preceded by the letter "S." Plate numbers S1 and S2 are untagged. Plate numbers S2 and S3 are printed with a UV-reactive ink. The last are found with both large and small perforation holes. The small holes are somewhat scarcer.