Arago: 5-dollar Hamilton

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5-dollar Hamilton

The 5-dollar stamp featuring a portrait of Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804) was issued on March 19, 1956. Hamilton served as the first secretary of the U.S. treasury and was an author of the Federalist Papers. A painting by John Trumbull displayed at the National Gallery of Art inspired the vignette, which Charles A. Brooks engraved. It is often considered one of the most beautiful portrait stamps of the twentieth century.

The first post office release about the new 5-dollar stamp noted the stamp was being produced on the rotary press. A corrected announcement was soon made, noting that the stamp was one of the last United States stamps produced on the flat plate press.

The city of Paterson, New Jersey, held a huge celebration to greet the stamp on its first day of issue. It was Hamilton who founded Paterson, America's first industrial city. He secured a charter from the New Jersey legislature on November 22, 1791, for the Society of Useful Manufacturers that had been established in Paterson. The date of issue was also the birth date of Paterson’s charter, created by the New Jersey legislature on March 19, 1792.

The search for a 5-dollar Alexander Hamilton Liberty Series stamp on a commercially-used cover (envelope) is one of the great challenges of modern postal history collecting. The stamp was used primarily on bank tags or parcel labels to meet the registry rates of the accompanying bank bags and securities packages. Twelve commercially-used covers are known at this time.


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