After thirty-three days at sea, Christopher Columbus spotted land in what is now known as the Bahamas. The date—October 12, 1492. On his return to Spain, Columbus presented his discoveries to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. The 15-cent Columbian Exposition Issue highlighted the royal court appearance in which Columbus stands in front of kneeling natives—trophies from his first voyage. A painting by the Spaniard Ricardo Baloca y Cancico may have inspired the final stamp design. Unfortunately, it is lost and presumed to be a casualty of the Spanish Civil War.
The 15-cent Columbian Exposition stamp could have paid the Universal Postal Union rate and the registered fee. At the time of its issuance, however, the registered rate was reduced to eight cents. The stamp could still pay the triple-weight U.P.U. rate or, in combination with other denominations, more expensive domestic weight or international rates. American Bank Note Company printed 1,576,950 stamps of this issue.