National Parks Issue

US #740 was issued on this day in 1934. Click image to order.

On July 15, 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.

US #740-49 – Get all 10 National Parks singles in one convenient order. Click image to 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.

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.”

Item #MRS1672 – A complete set of 10 National Parks FDCs autographed by the Director of the National Park Service. Click image to order.

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.

Item #MRS1673 – A complete set of 10 National Parks FDCs autographed by park superintendents. Click image to order.

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).

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. 

US #740/65 – Get all 10 National Parks singles plus the 10 Farley’s Follies singles in one step.  Click image to order.

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 the rest of the National Parks stamps.

Click here to see what else happened on This Day in History.

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  1. Imagine living at a time when the biggest political scandal of the day involved the issuing of a very limited edition of postage stamps. Horrors!

      1. I am not so sure considering our current situation. The poor old USA is getting quite a beating now.

      2. Oh Mike, this was uncalled for and quite inaccurate to boot. Barack Obama was an outstanding President, and historians generally rank him in the top ten of all who have held the office. Of course, the current President makes all of his predecessors look good.

        1. You are speaking about “historians” who are basically an adjunct of the Democrat Party. Their opinions are meaningless. Douglas Brinkley was actually promoting John Kerry as a war hero LOL. Historians I respect rate Obama incredibly low — already, basically Jimmy Carter except for the American-hating. As for the Trumpster, look at the numbers, Conrad. The numbers tell a truthful tale, unlike most academic historians who are on the “progressive” side of history (read: social engineering).

          1. Mike, you don’t understand the profession of historians. Of course you would list “historians” in quotes and call them part of the Democratic Party. You ought to use Trump’s phrase and call them “fake” historians. The historians I am referring to are respected members of the American Historical Society. In 2017, C-SPAN conducted a survey of 91 professional historians and asked them to rate the Presidents in ten categories. Not surprisingly, the top five were Lincoln, Washington Franklin Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, and Eisenhower. Obama came in at number 12, and Trump wasn’t rated because he was the sitting President. Since you mention Jimmy Carter, he came in at number 26. Look up C-SPAN, historians survey to see the whole list and how it was put together. I wonder if the historians you respect are on the list. Incidentally, Douglas Brinkley was one of the historians, John Kerry was a war hero, and as you surely know, the Republicans tried to smear him in the election of 2004.

  2. All Americans can be proud of our National Parks, Monuments, Seashores, and Historic sites. Unfortunately, many of our National Parks have been underfunded for years. I live near Yosemite, and it has over $500 million in deferred maintenance…roads, restrooms, sewage treatment, trails, signage, etc. Our National Parks are a priceless heritage, and we owe it to future generations, as well as to ourselves, to properly maintain them. I have quoted author Wallace Stegner in this space before and probably will again. “National Parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic.”

    1. You don’t understand the Democrat Party anymore, Conrad. It’s not what it was ten years ago even. Democrats are Pavlovian dogs and Trump is plying them like canine fiddles.

      1. This is a stamp blog. The republican party is full of first time or no time voters that claim the party because of that idiot trump. A bunch of poor, racist uneducated morons that think he’s their champion. He despises poor people, second only to imigrants. I’ve been a republican for 50 years and it’s time for a change of parties. Not the democratic socialist one tho’. Sheffield needs to get off his moms couch and get a life. Every time I hear that ignorant bastard he’s got something stupid and irrelevant to say. This is not the place for his misplaced agenda just because he hates imigrants and Obama. Take it to facebook, they’ll love you over there. IT’S A STAMP COMMENT PAGE!!!!! Not only that, regardless of your party, Obama did OK except towards the end. They don’t like him because he’s black, period. BTW he’s half black. Every time I ck out this stamp history page somebody’s running HIS mouth. It’s never the ladies. Go figure. Thanks Mystic, it’s been fun. Goodbye.

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