This series of postage stamps, issued to commemorate the opening of the Panama Canal and the discovery of the Pacific Ocean, comprises four denominations, 1, 2, 5, and 10 cents, all of which were first placed on sale at San Francisco, Calif., January 1, 1913, except the 2-cent denomination, which was first placed on sale at the same post office on January 18, 1913. Description follows:
The stamps are about 3/4 of an inch high by 1 and 1/16 inches wide ; at the top appear the words “U. S. Postage” and “San Francisco, 1915”; in the left-hand border is a branch of laurel and in the right-hand border a palm branch; a numeral expressing the denomination is shown within a circle in each lower corner, with the word “Cents” between.
The 1-cent stamp is green and in the center appears, within a circle, a bust of Balboa, discoverer of the Pacific Ocean, looking to the left, and wearing a cuirass and a helmet with a plume. On each side of the background are palm trees, with the ocean in the foreground. Below the portrait, in a horizontal panel breaking the circle, are the words “Balboa, 1513.”
The 2-cent stamp is carmine. It represents the Panama Canal, with a merchant steamer emerging from one lock and a warship in the other. The mountains of the Isthmus appear in the distance, and palm trees on the right-hand side of the locks. Beneath the picture are the words “Panama Canal.”
There is no 3 cent stamp in this collection, but you can read about 1870 3 cent stamp from another issue.
The 5-cent stamp is blue, and presents the Golden Gate of San Francisco Harbor, with the setting sun in the background and a steamer and sailing vessel in the bay. The words “Golden Gate” appear below the picture.
The 10-cent stamp is orange. The subject is “Discovery of San Francisco Bay”, from a painting which represents the discovering party looking out upon the distant bay.
A model of the Pedro Miguel Locks was used as the subject of the 2-cent denomination, and the title was first erroneously engraved “Gatun Locks”, but the mistake was discovered before any of the stamps were issued, and all of those which had been printed were destroyed by burning. The title was re-engraved as “Panama Canal”, and the stamps were issued with that title.
The first print of the 10-cent denomination was found to be of too light a shade and in response to a request of the Department, dated April 9, 1913, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing adopted a darker shade of pink. These darker stamps were first issued by the Department on August 25, 1913.
Published by John Jr. Paperly
Source: Postage Stamps of the United States 1847-1959