Arago: Fifth International Philatelic Exhibition Issues

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Fifth International Philatelic Exhibition Issues
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The Fifth International Philatelic Exhibition (FIPEX), one in a series of events that occurs once per decade, took place in New York City from April 28 through May 6, 1956. The Post Office honored the huge stamp show by issuing a souvenir sheet, a commemorative stamp, and two items of postal stationery.

The POD issued the souvenir sheet at the show on its opening day, April 28. It features oversized reproductions of two stamps (3-cent and 8-cent) in the Liberty Series, which were current at the time. Also featured is the facsimile signature of the postmaster general, Arthur E. Summerfield. The souvenir sheets were printed on pre-gummed paper on a flatbed press from a plate with twenty-four subjects. Victor S. McCloskey, Jr., of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing modeled the sheet. The engravers were Matthew D. Fenton, John S. Edmondson, Richard M. Bower, and Alexander Peneau.

The souvenir sheet, with a face value of eleven cents, was (and still is) valid for postage. The 3-cent stamp could be cut out and used on a first-class letter. A patron could cut the 8-cent stamp and use it to pay the surface-rate postage on an international letter. All plate numbers were intended to be cut off before sale of sheets to the public, so any plate numbers reaching the public are freaks, resulting from faulty cutting and poor quality control.

The intaglio-printed commemorate stamp issued in honor of FIPEX was released at the New York City show on its second day, April 30. The stamp features the New York Coliseum, the show's venue. The stamp, perforated 11x10 1/2, was printed on the Stickeny Rotary press from 200-subject plates. Plates were used in pairs on the press, so each rotation of the press produced two sheets of two hundred stamps, each of which was divided into four fifty-subject panes for distribution to post offices. Four plates were used to print the single-color stamp: 25374, 25375, 25386, and 25387. The 3-cent stamp paid the postage on a one-ounce domestic first-class letter.

The stamp was designed by William K. Schrage of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, using as source material a drawing of the Coliseum provided by the architectural firm of Leon and Lionel Levy, New York City. Arthur W. Dintaman engraved the vignette. George A. Payne engraved the lettering and numerals.