Designers selected an artist's pallet with brushes, long an icon of the great oil painters, as the icon for the five American artists honored in the Famous Americans Issue. Artists commemorated are Gilbert Charles Stuart, James A. M. Whistler, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Daniel Chester French, and Frederic Remington. The denomination of each stamp is superimposed on the pallet. The Post Office Department issued the stamps between September 5 and September 30, 1940.
The official United States Post Office Department release announcing these five stamps recorded their colors as green, red, purple, blue, and brown. The Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers, however, more accurately lists the five colors as bright blue green, rose carmine, bright red violet, ultramarine, and dark brown. The USPOD used its color designations for all seven sets of five in this Issue, whereas the Specialized uses these five throughout as well.