3130-31 - 1997 32c Stagecoach and Ship
US #3130-31 were issued for the Pacific ’97 stamp show.

On March 13, 1997, the USPS issued its first triangle-shaped stamps to promote the upcoming Pacific ’97 Stamp Show.

1997 32c Stagecoach and Ship First Day Cover
US #3130-31 – Classic First Day Cover

The world’s first triangle-shaped stamps came 144 years earlier. Issued in 1853, the British colony Cape of Good Hope’s very first stamps were triangle-shaped. They were reportedly created in that shape to help illiterate postal clerks easily identify the difference in letters that were mailed from within the colony from those that were mailed from other places.

Over the course of a decade, Cape of Good Hope would produce several more triangle stamps, totaling 12 by 1863. You can view some of these triangle stamps here. The next triangle stamps from another postal administration came from Newfoundland, then a British colony in 1857. These and many other early triangle stamps were imperforate. The first independent country to issue perforated triangle stamps was Ecuador in 1908. Over the next several decades, more countries would join in the fun and issue over 1,600 triangle stamps.

1997 32c Stagecoach and Ship Mystic First Day Covers
US #3130-31 – Set of 2 Mystic First Day Covers

In 1997, the US joined as well with a special pair of stamps promoting the upcoming Pacific ’97 Stamp Show. The two stamps were issued on March 13, 1997, at the New York Coliseum as part of the March MEGA Stamp Event. According to the postmaster general, “These innovative stamps represent our commitment to provide the philatelic community and the American public with exciting new designs and formats… Since 1847, when the first US postage stamps were issued, stamps have been rectangular in shape. We want the American public to know stamps aren’t square.”

3131a - 1997 32c Stagecoach/Ship Uncut Sheet (6)
US #3131a – Uncut Mint Press Sheet – only 10,000 issued

The two stamps honored the settlers who opened the American West by land and sea. They picture a mid-19th-century clipper ship and a US mail stagecoach – both of which are historically associated with mail delivery in California. The ship design is based on an advertising card for the clipper ship Richard S. Ely. These small cards were handed out in eastern cities to encourage people to travel to California by ship. The stagecoach design is based on a drawing by Harrison Eastman (1823-1886), who worked as a postal clerk in San Francisco until his art career took off.

2007 41¢ Settlement of Jamestown
US #4136 – Issued for the 400th anniversary of the settlement of Jamestown.

A decade later, the USPS produced its second triangle issue, honoring the settlement of Jamestown. That stamp pictured the three ships, Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery, that brought English colonists to America in 1607. Calling their settlement Jamestown, after England’s King James I, the colonists founded the first permanent settlement in the new world. The stamp commemorated Jamestown’s 400th anniversary and honors the colony’s first triangular-shaped fort.

321146 - Mint Stamp(s)
US #3130-31 – mint sheet of 16 Pacific ’97 stamps
MP1943 - Triangle shaped stamps, 200v
Item #MP1943 – Get 200 triangle stamps for less than $30!
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  1. First and Only U.S. Triangle Stamps Issued 25 Years Ago Today!
    This may be the first U.S. Triangle Stamp but not the only.
    What about the Settlement of Jamestown 400th Anniversary stamp, Scott #4136?

    1. Not First and Only, where did you see that? The Jamestown Stamp is mentioned in the article. Did you even read it?

  2. Great article! I remember when these stamps were issued. I purchased several sheets and made up some of my own home-grown FDCs for franking. I was also able to purchase an Uncut Mint Press Sheet that is till in my collection today.

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