Top five Americana stamps - thematics stamp collecting

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11 October 2016
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1-59542.jpg George Washington, 1903
Create a collection of stamps celebrating the culture, geography and history of the United States with our Americana stamp thematic guide.

Create a collection of stamps celebrating the culture, geography and history of the United States with our Americana stamp thematic guide.

Americana stamps are quite simply stamps which relate to the USA, including people, landmarks, symbols and historic events, as well as ideals such as American rights and principles.

Obviously, this is a huge subject but it is one which can be easily tailored to reflect your own knowledge and interests. For example, historians might choose to collect stamps relating to the American Civil War or the USA’s presidents, whilst a collector interested in travel could decide to look for stamps featuring American landmarks such as the Empire State Building or the Grand Canyon, or a science enthusiast could specialise in America’s role in space exploration.

1. All US presidents have featured on at least one American stamp, so it would be possible to compile a chronological collection of presidents from George Washington through to the current day. This 2 cent Washington stamp dates to 1903.

2. The huge scale of the USA lends itself well to stamps on the theme of natural wonders, featuring sights such as the Grand Canyon (featured on a US National Park Forever stamp in 2016), the Great Lakes and the Sierra Nevada. The Grand Canyon has appeared on many USA stamps, including this 2014 stamp showcasing the work of US artists. 

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3. Globally-known monuments and symbols can provide a fruitful source for Americana stamps, and such is the worldwide appeal of American history and symbols that these issues are not restricted to America alone.

 The Statue of Liberty marked its centenary in 1986, with the USA issuing a stamp showing the face of the statue, and other countries including Belize and the British Virgin Islands issuing centenary stamps.

4. Beginning in 1975 and running until 1981, the United States Postal Service (USPS) issued a series of Americana stamps featuring symbols of American life over the course of the history of the United States. Its five themes were Roots of Democracy, Rights & Freedoms of the American People, Symbols of America, Pioneer America and America’s Light. There were a total of twenty stamps, issued in sheetlets, each of which looked back at concepts (rather than people) which had defined American history.

Each stamp has a text running around its outside edge, proclaiming an American right or value, for example ‘By truth and reason’ and ‘Freedom to speak out’. This series included the well-known CIA invert error of 1979 which featured an upside-down candle.

5. American presidents are a popular branch of Americana and were the subject of the first two American stamps, issued in 1847. Landmark anniversaries have often seen several stamps issued by various countries. For example in 2009, the USPS marked the bi-centenary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth with four stamps showing his portrait and landmark events from his time in office. 

Feature adapted from an in-depth guide to collecting Americana stamps, which you can read in the November issue of Stamp & Coin Mart - available in print and digital versions.