Monday, July 20, 2020

First US Multicolored Stamp

The Overrun Countries Series were issued by the Postal Service during 1943 and 1944 to support the war effort during World War II. Thirteen stamps showed the flag of the country overrun or occupied by the Axis forces. This was to remind the American people of the nations whose freedoms they were trying to get. The design was suggested by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The first stamp honored Poland and showed its flag in red and white.

The Postal Service hoped that by making stamps in more than one color, it would be more attractive to people. The Postal Service had issued stamps with more than one color but never more than two colors before. Since the Bureau of Engraving and Printing was so busy during this time, the American Bank Note Company was invited to produce the stamp. This printing facility let flags of different nations be printed in their original colors in one operation. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing lacked the equipment necessary for cost-effective multicolor production of stamps.

This stamp was issued on June 22, 1943, in Washington DC and Chicago. The stamp shows the Phoenix (a mythological bird) on the left symbolizing the renewal of life and a figure kneeling and breaking the bond of oppression on the right. This stamp was the first in the Overrun Countries Series and the first multicolor issue.

Classroom Activities:

· Research what happened to Poland while it was occupied by the Axis forces.
· Draw a map of Poland.
· Find out what other countries were in this series of stamps.
· Research the story about the Phoenix.

Original photo by Pat Hensley


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