The first day ceremony for the Conestoga Wagon stamp was held at the fire hall in Conestoga, Pennsylvania, on Feb 29, 1988. There were 255, 203 first day covers, all with plate number 1. Issued just prior to the increase in the first-class letter rate to twenty-five cents, it was intended to be used with 22-cent stamps to make up the 25-cent rate.
Conestoga wagons were invented during the late eighteenth century. Nicknamed 'prairie schooners', they were the most important vehicles for shipping goods in their day. By the mid-1800s, long trains stretched westward across the Great Plains to the Pacific coast.
The Conestoga Wagon stamp was designed by Richard Schlect of Arlington, Virginia, and engraved by Thomas R. Hipschen and Dennis Brown, both of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
There are numerous paper, gum, and tagging varieties on the issue, none particularly scarce. The first Conestoga Wagons were printed on the B press by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing with plate 1 every fifty-two stamps, issued in coils of one hundred, five hundred, and 3,000, and all were block tagged.
Later Conestoga Wagons were printed on the C press, untagged, with a plate number every forty-eight stamps, using numbers 2, 3, 5, and 6. They were issued in coils of five hundred, 3,000, and 10,000. Plate 2 was first noted in 1992 and plate 3 in 1994. Plate 6 was found in 1995 and 5 in 1997. Toward the end of their period of use, the stamps were printed on bright paper in rolls of 10,000 with plate 5.