At the Revolutionary War's conclusion, George Washington returned to his civilian life at Mount Vernon. Without question, he reined as the nation's most prominent citizen. In 1784 Virginia's state legislature commissioned a life-size sculpture, which would be placed in the Capitol. Thomas Jefferson, then residing in Paris, assumed the task of identifying a skilled sculptor. He chose Jean-Antoine Houdon. Houdon was already known to Benjamin Franklin, whom Houdon had sculpted in 1778. A year later, in 1785, Houdon visited Mount Vernon to discuss the sculpture with Washington. The sculpture was installed in Capitol rotunda on May 14th, 1796.
Houdon's famous sculpture inspired the 3-cent Washington stamp’s engraved image. The 3-cent Washington has two variations, one with a grill, the other without. This is true of all the stamps of this issue. The stamp could have been used to pay the two-cent local mail rate; it could also have been used in combination with other denominations to fulfill larger rates. The National Bank Note Company printed approximately 252,000,000 3-cent stamps of both variations.