The Postal Service paid tribute to the centennial of Montana statehood by issuing a commemorative stamp on January 15, 1989, in Helena, Montana. The date marked the 100th anniversary of a speech presented by territorial delegate Joseph K. Toole to the US House of Representatives urging statehood for Montana. On November 8, 1889, Montana became the forty-first state, and Toole was elected its first governor.
Renowned Western artist Charles M. Russell based the Montana Statehood stamp on the oil painting, "C.M. Russell and Friends." The Montana artist and former cowboy painted his favorite Montana landscape and elements of the old West, including himself, to capture the spirit of Big Sky Country. The stamp shows Russell in the foreground aboard a black horse, standing on a grassy knoll. Russell's left arm extends toward Square Butte and the spacious plains of central Montana. Five cowhands ride past Russell in the lower right.
Today, Montana is still as rugged and rewarding as ever. Instead of prospectors, the beautiful mountains, lakes, and rivers now draw throngs of visitors to the state. The respect for land and family they find in Montana causes a good many to remain.
Designed by Bradbury Thompson, the stamps were issued in panes of fifty. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing printed the stamps in the offset/intaglio process.
Postal Bulletin (December 15, 1988)