The vignette for the entire series of newspaper and periodical stamps, including this denomination, derived from the Statue of Freedom which stands atop the Capitol building in the District of Columbia. An aspect of architect Thomas Watson's vision for the Capitol's new dome, the Statue of Freedom was commissioned in 1855. Thomas Crawford was selected to create the statue, which he cast in plaster at his studio in Rome. Though Crawford died in 1857, the model was at a stage that it could be shipped to America, where it was ultimately cast in bronze by Clark Mills of Washington, District of Columbia. The statue was lifted to the dome's crest in the winter of 1863. A little over eleven years after the statue was raised to the top of the Capitol building, the Post Office Department released the first stamps bearing its image.
The 6-cent newspaper and periodical stamp was first issued on January 1, 1875. It paid a multiple of the minimum fee of two-cents-per-pound of newspaper and periodical matter. That two-cent fee was for material sent at least once a week through the Post Office Department system. The 6-cent stamp also paid a multiple of the minimum fee of three-cents-per-pound for material sent less frequently than once a week.
The entire stamp series, including the 6-cent denomination, has four variations, which are distinguished by paper type. These are the 1875 thin hard paper and 1875 Special Printing hard white paper issues of Continental Bank Note Company; the 1879 soft porous paper issue of American Bank Note Company; and the 1894 soft wove paper issue of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. More than 4,200,000 6-cent newspaper and periodical stamps were printed and issued. An additional 2,348 six-cent Special Printing issues were printed and sold to the public.