This week we feature the American Philatelic Society Souvenir Sheet issues of 1933. This is the first souvenir sheet ever issued by the United States Postal Service. Both were printed to honor the American Philatelic Society for their convention and exhibition in Chicago Illinois. This event was part of the city’s Century of Progress Exposition.
The stamps were printed by the Bureau of Printing and Engraving on a flat plate press. There were two denominations issued. The one cent commemorating Fort Dear Borne, the original site of Chicago, and the three cent commemorated the Federal Building a symbol of the cities progress at the time. Both issues were un-perferated with no gum on the reverse side. However, they were intended to be used as normal postage.
These are unique to U.S. Postal history; this was the first time the post office had marketed an issue specifically for collectors. I have always wondered if the president at the time, stamp collector Franklin D. Roosevelt, created this strategy or did it came out of the post office administration?
The Post Master General over seeing this issue, James A Farley, was an astute business man and certainly knew the value of stamps as a collectable item. The scandal he was responsible for, Farley’s Follies, proved that. For those who may not know, this was big philatelic news at the time. Farley removed from the printing process a complete printer’s sheets of stamp issues. He did this before they were gummed and perforated in order to give them out as autographed souvenirs. Outraged collectors vehemently criticized the post office when they heard about this. To make peace, the post office printed more of Farley’s ‘souvenir’ sheets and offered them for sale.
Since 1933 the post office has issued over thirty nine souvenir sheets.