Connecticut-born artist John Trumbull (1756-1843) completed a sketch for his painting “Declaration of Independence” while in Paris in 1785. He hoped to paint from life all the portraits that would appear in the work. For six years (1789-1794) he lived and worked in New York City, then the federal government's seat, to paint the portraits for this master work and otherwise to meet his financial obligations. During the rebuilding of the Capitol following the British destruction of Washington, D.C., during the War of 1812, Congress solicited major works of art for the new rotunda. It commissioned several large works from Trumbull, among them “Declaration of Independence.” The final painting was 12 feet tall by 18 feet wide and included portraits of forty-seven men—forty-two of whom had signed the Constitution plus five other patriots.
The stamp has a distinct green frame and a violet-colored engraved vignette (1/300th the size of the original work) of Trumbull’s painting. This stamp, with its bi-color characteristics, has inverted frames. The stamp typically paid the postage for large-weight letters sent domestically or for expensive, foreign-destination rates. The National Bank Note Company printed 235,350 stamps of this 24-cent issue.