A 20-cent commemorative stamp honoring the 50th anniversary of the National Archives was issued April 16, 1984, in Washington, DC. The First Day of Issue ceremony was held in the National Archives building.
Since 1934, the National Archives has been responsible for examining and sorting billions of items and analyzing, organizing, and describing the 2-3 percent of this material judged each year to have enough significant and lasting value to be preserved in the National Archives. In addition to housing the three Charters of Freedom — the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights — the National Archives also preserves over 70,000 sound recordings, thousands of important official documents, and 80,000 reels of film dating from President McKinley's inauguration in 1897.
The stamp, designed by Michael David Brown of Rockville, Maryland, and modeled by Clarence Holbert, captures the spirit of our nation's heritage as preserved by the National Archives, using silhouettes of Presidents Washington and Lincoln in the design. Also appearing in the design is the motto of the Archives, "What Is Past Is Prologue."
The stamp was printed in the photogravure process, with fifty stamps per pane.
The production approach taken for this issue represented a departure from the normal four positions for plate numbers. Four commemorative issues were printed simultaneously on a single press sheet. The panes of National Archives stamps were printed in the lower left quadrant of the sheets, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation stamps in the upper left quadrant, Soil and Water Conservation stamps in the upper right quadrant, and Federal Credit Union Act of 1934 stamps in the lower right quadrant. After printing, the sheets were quartered into conventional panes for distribution to post offices.
Postal Bulletin (March 15, 1984).