1934 1¢ National Parks: Yosemite, California
US #740 was issued on this day in 1934.

On July 16, 1934, the first stamp in the National Parks Series was issued, honoring Yosemite National Park. Decades before it had been suggested that more US stamps feature natural scenery, but most stamps stuck to the tradition of picturing deceased military and political leaders. When Stephen Mather became the first director of the National Park Service, he specifically recommended that national parks be pictured on US stamps, but no action was taken during his tenure.

Complete Set - 1934 National Parks Collection
US #740-49 – Get all 10 National Parks singles in one convenient order.

Over the years local postmasters created special cancels for their nearby national parks. Notably, in Colorado, one postmaster created a cancellation that announced the Rocky Mountain National Park’s opening day.

1934 1¢ green, Vert. pair, imperf. horiz
US #740a – Scarce Yosemite horizontal imperforate error pair.

Then in 1933, a newspaper editor shared his opinion in the Greely (Colorado) Tribune Republican, “While the (Eastern) seaboard flocks to Europe on vacations, Uncle Sam misses a great opportunity by not issuing series of pictorials on the national parks. It would be Federal advertising paid for many times over by philatelists.” That same year, President Franklin Roosevelt appointed Harold Ickes secretary of the Interior. Ickes also supported stamps honoring the national parks and declared 1934 to be National Parks Year to help further his cause. Ickes felt many Americans were unaware the federal government had set aside vast amounts of land for their enjoyment and for future generations.

1934 3¢ National Parks: Mt. Rainier, Washington, souvenir sheet
US #750 – Mount Rainier souvenir sheet issued for the American Philatelic Exhibition

In January 1934, Ickes met with President Roosevelt and Postmaster General James Farley and convinced them to issue a set of 10 stamps featuring America’s national parks. Roosevelt was a stamp collector himself as well as a major supporter of national parks (he would greatly expand the park system during his term in office).

1934 1¢ National Parks: Yosemite, California, souvenir sheet
US #751 – Yosemite souvenir sheet issued for the Trans-Mississippi Philatelic Exposition

The first stamp honoring Yosemite was issued on July 16, 1934. The stamp, printed in bright green, pictured the park’s famed El Capitan. Between July and October, a total of 10 stamps were issued in the series. In addition to the 10 single stamps, there were also two imperforate national parks souvenir sheets issued. One was for the American Philatelic Society Exhibition and the other for the Trans-Mississippi Philatelic Exhibition. The national parks issue was popular with collectors and postal patrons alike, and was also part of one of the most infamous stamp stories in our nation’s history…

Farley’s Follies

As the stamp sheets were coming off the printing press, Postmaster Farley removed a few sheets before they were gummed or perforated and autographed them for friends and family. He was creating precious philatelic rarities. Farley had been doing this since 1933, and once stamp collectors learned of what he was doing, they were outraged.

1934-35 National Parks, collection of 20 stamps
US #740/65 – Get all 10 National Parks singles plus the 10 Farley’s Follies singles in one step!

In 1935, the post office came up with a solution – the reissue in sheet form of all the stamps issued since March 4, 1933, in imperforate, ungummed condition, and in sufficient numbers to satisfy public demand. Among those stamps re-issued ungummed and imperforate were the national parks stamps.

Click here for more Farley’s Follies stamps, click here for Farley’s Follies album pages, and click here for Farley’s Follies Heirloom album.

Click here for the rest of the National Parks stamps.

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2 Comments

  1. Americans can be proud of all of the national parks, monuments, seashores historic sites, wilderness areas, battlefield sites, recreation areas, etc. Since America’s first national parks, Yellowstone, Yosemite and Sequoia, over 100 countries around the world have established national parks of one kind or another. As author Wallace Stegner 0nce wrote, “National Parks are the best idea America ever had.”

  2. My parents lived through the Great Depression and always talked about how even in those dire financial days FDR looked to the beauty and need to preserve natural lands

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