Arago: 5-dollar Marshall

5-dollar Marshall

An image of John Marshall (1755-1835) appears on the 5-dollar denomination of the Third Bureau Issues. Marshall, an American statesman and jurist, served as the fourth US chief justice. He had previously served in a variety of political offices, including in the US House of Representatives and secretary of state in the Jefferson cabinet.

The longest serving chief justice in Supreme Court history, Marshall dominated the Court for over three decades. He played a significant role in the development of the American political system by establishing the Supreme Court's right to judicial review - that is, the right to strike down laws that violate the US Constitution. Marshall is credited with both raising the judiciary to its full potential as an independent and powerful branch of government and with shaping the balance of power between the federal government and the states.

The 5-dollar Marshall stamp was primarily used to pay intra-Post Office Department funds transfers and also franked large foreign letter-rate parcels.

The stamp was originally issued June 5, 1903, as a sheet stamp on unwatermarked paper with gauge 12 perforations, printed from plates of 200, and sold in panes of 100 stamps.

On March 22, 1917, the 5-dollar Marshall stamp was reprinted in light green, with gauge 10 perforations.

These stamps met a sudden demand for high value postage during World War I. They were used to mail machine parts to Russia by Parcel Post as well as valuable shipments of Liberty Bonds. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing produced 217,167 Marshall 5-dollar stamps.

R. Ostrander Smith designed the 5-dollar Marshall stamp, using a painting by William James Hubard as his model. George F. C. Smillie engraved the portrait. Marcus W. Baldwin, Robert F. Ponickau, and Marcus W. Baldwin engraved the frame, and Lyman F. Ellis engraved the lettering and numerals.


King, Beverly and Max G. Johl. The United States Postage Stamps of the Twentieth Century. (New York: H.L. Lindquist, 1937), 1:303-5.

Kloetzel, James E., ed. 2008 Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps & Covers. 86th ed. (Sidney, Ohio: Scott Publishing Co., 2007), 72.

United States Stamp Society, ed. Encyclopedia of United States Stamps and Stamp Collecting. (Minneapolis: Kirk House Publishers, 2006), 77.

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