Ordinary Postage Stamps — Issue 1902-3

This series of postage stamps, known as the 1902 series, was issued to replace the series of 1894. After the new 2-cent stamp was issued it was decided that a more artistic design could be made, and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing was requested to prepare one. This improved design was first issued to postmasters on November 12, 1903.

Ordinary Postage Stamps 1902 - Photo 1

To add historical and educational interest to the series, the name of the person whose portrait is presented appears on each stamp and the years of birth and death. The words “Series 1902” appear in small type upon each of the stamps, with the legend “United States of America”, “Postage”, and the denomination in words in bold-faced white letters as well as in Arabic numerals.

Ordinary Postage Stamps 1902 - Photo 2

Briefly, the series is made up as follows:

Ordinary Postage Stamps 1902 - Table wit description

Further Description of the 1902-3 Series

One-cent. — Portrait of Franklin, on each side of which is a child’s figure, nude, except for flowing drapery about the loins, holding aloft in the upper corners of the stamp an electric-light bulb.

Two-cent. — The portrait of Washington, by Stuart, is in an elliptical opening 9/16 of an inch axis, on each side of which a U.S. flag is draped; the Arabic numeral “2”‘ appears in the lower corners in the scroll and leafy surroundings.

Two-cent (revised design). — The Stuart portrait of Washington is employed as the subject, but the head is larger than in the first 2-cent stamp of the 1902 series. The opening is an oblong on end, the top line curving upward; the background is a U.S. shield; the numeral “2” on the lower left side of the portrait is surrounded by a laurel wreath; that on the right side by an oak wreath.

Three-cent. — The portrait of Jackson, whose shoulders are cloaked, has on each side the upper half a bearded man with the naked front. The waist is encircled by a belt with a shield-shaped buckle. One arm is bent above the head and the other forearm flexed upward from the elbow, the hands supporting a robe over the head, back, and sides. The portrait opening is formed by the sides of these figures, and the numerals of value cover the lower limbs of the figure; an arched line above and a straight horizontal line below.

Four-cent. — Portrait of Grant. The distinctive features of the border are eagles’ heads looking outward in the upper corners, with a well-defined arch, including perpendicular haunches extending slightly below the half circle, as the enclosing line of the portrait. Wreaths of oak leaves surround the numerals near the lower corners, and above each of these numerals are two small flags whose staffs lean outward.

Five-cent. — Portrait of Lincoln. Female figures full robed, except the arms, are resting against the portrait line, and crossing wands of palm over the vignette, with flags floating behind their heads. The numerals are in the lower corners.

Six-cent. — Portrait of Garfield. The border of this stamp is architectural, consisting, as the main feature, of a fluted pilaster on each side, midway of which is a fancy tablet bearing the numeral “6.”

Eight-cent. — Martha Washington. The vignette-inclosing line, bearing the words “United States of America” on the upper half, is bordered by a laurel wreath on the sides, leaving an unconnected space above, which is filled with the words “Series 1902.” The face is after the painting by Stuart.

Ten-cent.— Portrait of Webster. The ornamental frame consists principally of lateral faces with battle-axes projecting from their tops, edges outward.

Ten-cent {special delivery). — At each side is a fluted pillar supporting a tablet upon which are the words “United States of America.” A messenger boy riding a bicycle toward the right appears on the left end, and the words “Special delivery,” “Secures immediate delivery at any U.S. post office,” are across the face of the stamp. The numerals “10” are in the lower corners in foliated spaces.

Thirteen-cent. — Portrait of Harrison. Resting on each side of the upper half of the elliptical opening for the portrait is a seminude female figure, the lower limbs being draped. That on the right holds a mallet in her right hand, while the left rests on a carved head. That on the left supports with her right hand a book resting on her knee, and the left pushes back the mantle covering her head. The bases supporting these figures and partly hidden columns carry the numerals “13.”

Fifteen-cent. — Portrait of Clay. The border consists essentially of portions of an oak wreath showing on the sides, and outside of that appears a short bead line on each side curved with the wreath.

Fifty-cent. — Portrait of Jefferson. The upper corners between the frame of the stamp and the ellipse (which is broken at the bottom by a straight horizontal line I surrounding the vignette are filled by foliate ornaments. Perched eagles with their beaks outward fill the lower corners; upon these are placed the denomination numerals “50.” The original painting of Jefferson is by Gilbert Stuart.

One-dollar. — Portrait of Farragut. The superior borderline of the portrait is a half circle. The denomination numerals and the dollar sign appear in the upper corners. A marine holding a musket sits in the lower left-hand corner and a sailor supporting a boat hook in the right.

Two-dollar. — Portrait of Madison, after the painting by Gilbert Stuart, looking from a circular opening. The border is noticeable from the sprays of palm on the sides, the stems extending behind and below a sharp-pointed shield on each lower corner, upon which the denomination in an Arabic numeral is placed.

Five-dollar. — Portrait of Marshall. The vignette is enclosed above by a line describing a half ellipse cut through its lower minor axis. Architectural design predominates in the border: fluted columns form the sides, and on either end of the entablature, immediately above the pillars upon which it rests, are the mythological heads of Liberty and Justice facing each other on the left and right, respectively. The numerals are on scrolled backgrounds near the lower corners.

Published by John Jr. Paperly
Source: Postage Stamps of the United States 1847-1959