A 20-cent commemorative stamp honoring the centennial year of Irish-American tenor John McCormack's birth was issued June 6, 1984, in Boston, Massachusetts. The Irish Postal Administration also issued a stamp honoring McCormack on the same day in Ireland.
The stamps, designed in cooperation between the two postal administrations, are nearly identical in appearance except for the color of the lettering, country designation, and denomination. The stamp's designers were Jim Sharpe of Westport, Connecticut, and Ron Mercer of Dublin, Ireland; it was modeled by Frank J. Waslick. The US stamp was printed in the photogravure process and issued in panes of fifty.
By agreement between the two postal administrations, the Irish stamp was sold by the US Postal Service at a price of twenty-five cents, and the US stamp was sold in Ireland by the Irish Post Office (An Post). In addition, the US Postal Service sold both the single McCormack stamp first day cover bearing the Irish stamp and cancellation and the combination cover prepared by An Post for forty-one cents and sixty-one cents, respectively. The cover featured a picture of the city of Athlone (left), McCormack's birthplace, and the combination cover had affixed both the Irish stamp and the US stamp, each bearing the cancellation of the respective country. In each cover was a card with information about the life and career of John McCormack.
The Irish stamp and first day covers were sold in Boston on June 6 only. Following that, they were sold by mail order from the Philatelic Sales Division and over the counter at the L'Enfant Plaza Philatelic Center in Washington, DC. The Irish stamps were available until December 31, and the first day covers were available until July 6.
The US Postal Service was authorized to apply the Irish first day of issue cancellation to the Irish stamp on a hand back basis in Boston on June 6 only and by mail order from Boston until July 6. However, customers placing mail orders for the Irish stamp and cancellation on their covers also had to have the US stamp placed in the upper right corner of the envelope to allow for the return of the cover by mail. Mail orders for covers bearing only the Irish stamp were not accepted. Ireland also was authorized to apply the US first day of issue cancellation to US stamps in Ireland.
Neither the US nor Irish stamp had the first day of issue cancellation of the other country applied to it. The US cancellation was applied to the US stamp only, and the Irish cancellation was applied only to that country's stamp.
Postal Bulletin (May 17, 1984).