President’s Day

Every country in the world grapples with the issue of what images should go on its stamps. And this was never as important as when the first stamps of each country were issued. The essays for the first stamps of Great Britain (which were the first stamps issued) show a variety of choices from elaborate numerals to scroll work to portraits of young Queen Victoria, the design that ultimately won out. Countries like Austria and Germany used Coats of Arms, though they had strong monarchs that they could have portrayed. France used an allegory of the French nation, the goddess Ceres, as their national symbol and Brazil took for its first stamps fancy numerals which philatelists today call Bulls Eyes because they vaguely resembled them (though this was not the Brazilian Post Offices intention). So when it came time for the United States to isuue stamps it is surprising that there was so little discussion of who or what was to be on the stamps. There was no serious discussion of the bald eagle or our flag. We chose the first postmaster and the first President and presidents dominated definitive issues for over a hundred years. We have an odd relationship with Presidents. They are roundly criticized when in office and then deified when dead.

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