The Postal Service issued four 32-cent Folk Heroes commemorative stamps on July 11, 1996, at the Postage Stamp Mega Event in Anaheim, California. The stamps went on sale nationwide July 12.
Designed by David LaFleur of Derby, Kansas, the stamps feature images of John Henry, Paul Bunyan, Mighty Casey, and Pecos Bill, four characters from American folklore.
According to legend, John Henry, a super strong steel driver who was born with a hammer in his hand, could drive steel for ten hours without stopping. He became the subject of many tales and songs of railroad tunnel laborers.
Paul Bunyan, a giant lumberjack, was abandoned as a toddler by his parents because he had grown so big they were unable to care for him. He was the king of the nineteenth-century loggers who felled acres and acres of trees. The origins of the stories about Bunyan are unknown.
Mighty Casey was a baseball giant who, at his moment of potential triumph, approached the plate with arrogance and confidence and then struck out at bat. Ernest Lawrence Thayer's poem, "Casey at the Bat," became an American classic due to the oratory skills of a performer named William DeWolf Hopper, who claimed to have recited it over 10,000 times.
Pecos Bill was a super cowboy who embodied the wildness of America's frontier. According to legend, he was raised by coyotes and was so tough he could ride a mountain lion and use a rattlesnake as a whip. The original saga was written by Edward O'Reilly, but many others expanded upon the yarns in other books, articles, poems, recordings, and plays.
The four stamps were issued in a pane of twenty and printed by Ashton-Potter (USA), Ltd., in the offset process.
Postal Bulletin (June 6, 1996).