The Postal Service issued the 5.3-cent Elevator stamp on September 16, 1988, in New York City. The dedication ceremony was held at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. The denomination was intended for nonprofit third-class mailers who presort to the carrier route.
Initially, steam-powered elevators lifted coal from underground mines. By 1850, commercial elevators carried freight, followed closely by hydraulic models. Both had two major disadvantages: they were slow and their installation required deep and extensive excavation.
During that period, elevators were used almost exclusively for freight because the pull rope kept breaking. It was not until Elisha Graves Otis designed a safety brake that passengers gained enough confidence to ride to the upper floors of hotels, stores, and workplaces.
Designed by Lou Nolan, the stamps were engraved through intaglio process (B Press) by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and issued in coils of 500 and 3,000 (pre-canceled only).
Postal Bulletin (September 1, 1988).