The Post Office Department issued seven groups of commemorative stamps between January 29 and February 12, 1940. These commemoratives stimulated tremendous interest in stamp collecting across the nation.
The first of the seven groups issued, the Authors group features five stamps, each with a portrait in an oval frame against a background of colonial design. The authors included are James Fennimore Cooper, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, Washington Irving, and Samuel L. Clemens. A scroll, quill pen, inkwell, and book appear at the base of each portrait. These symbols represent the Authors group in the series.
The cities chosen for First Day of Issue ceremonies had played a significant role in each author's life, usually his or her birthplace, and large, enthusiastic groups attended the ceremonies.