Parading the Colors


The First of the Many

In 1957 the United States Post Office issued the first US postage stamp (Scott #1094) to feature the Stars and Stripes as its central design. (It was also the first US stamp to be printed on the new multicolor Gori press.) Flag stamps had been proposed in the past but there were objections to defacing the national flag with postal cancellations. Public demand for stamps featuring the flag was strong, however, and finally the Post Office relented. Being intended as a definitive rather than a commemorative issue the new stamp was denominated 4 in anticipation of the postal rate change (from 3 to 4 for first-class letters) due to take effect in 1958. The motto "Long May It Wave" was taken from the second stanza of "The Star-Spangled Banner." The 1957 issue was the first of many US flag stamps but it was the only one to feature the 48-star version of Old Glory. In 1959 Alaska was admitted to the union and so the second US flag stamp (Scott #1132) sported the 49-star version.

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