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Abraham Lincoln on Stamps – The Sesquicentennial Issues of 1959

Posted By on April 19, 2013

A set of three commemorative stamps was issued in 1959 in recognition of the 150th Anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln.

The first stamp in the set, a one cent value, was issued 12 February 1959 at Hodgenville, Kentucky, the place of Lincoln’s birth.  It featured a portrait of Lincoln by George Healy.


George Healy (1813-1894)

Lincoln (1869), by George Healy.

George Healy was an American artist from Boston, Massachusetts.  The above painting of Abraham Lincoln was completed in 1869, and is a better-known Healy portrait of the president than the young Lincoln which is featured on the stamp.

On the first day of issue of the stamp, 379,862 First Day Covers were canceled at Hodgenville. Since the one cent stamp did not meet the first class letter rate, four stamps were affixed to covers and the First Day Covers are most often found with “blocks of 4” of this stamp.  Some of the stamps were also applied to post cards where only three stamps were needed.  The official number of canceled covers does not break down whether the first day cancel was applied to an envelope or a card.


The second stamp in the set was issued on 27 February 1959 at Cooper Union, New York City  where 437,737 first day cancels were applied to cards bearing at least one of the new 3 cent stamps or to envelopes bearing more than one of the new 3 cent stamps.  A popular combination First Day Cover had one each the new stamp and the previously issued 1 cent Lincoln stamp.

The stamp design features the “Cooper Union Bust of Lincoln” which was sculpted by Gutzon Borglum, a Danish-American artist.  Borglum was most famous for the monumental sculpture on Mount Rushmore of the four presidents, including Lincoln, and for Stone Mountain in Georgia, a monument to the Confederacy.  Borglum also had ties with the Masons and the Ku Klux Klan.  He is the most controversial of the artists who designed the Lincoln Sesquicentennial stamps.

Gutzon Borglum (1867-1941)

Mount Rushmore

Cooper Union Bust of Lincoln


The third and final stamp in the Lincoln Sesquicentennial stamp set of 1959 was issued on 30 May 1959 at Washington, D.C., where 894,887 First Day Covers were canceled.  Because this was the final stamp in the series, the First Day Covers are often found with a complete set of the three stamps – and sometimes also with the 1958 Lincoln-Douglas Debate stamp [Note: see also Abraham Lincoln on Stamps – Commemorative Issues, 1909-1958].  Most unusual would be a First Day Cover postmarked on 30 May 1959 will most previous Lincoln stamp designs.

The massive statue of Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., (by Daniel Chester French) was the subject of the design, along with a facsimile of Lincoln’s signature, but the stamp designer was actually Fritze Busse, a German illustrator.

Daniel Chester French (1850-1931)


Lincoln Memorial


Other previous parts of this study can be found in the following posts:  Early Postage Stamps Honoring Abraham Lincoln, Postage Stamps Honoring Abraham Lincoln – Bureau of Engraving and Printing to 1909. and Abraham Lincoln on Stamps – Commemorative Issues, 1909-1958.

Much of the information for this post was taken from Abraham Lincoln on Postage Stamps, privately published in 2000 as a companion to a stamp collection and exhibit that was displayed at a county historical society in Pennsylvania in conjunction with the 135th Anniversary of the Lincoln Assassination.


4 Responses to “Abraham Lincoln on Stamps – The Sesquicentennial Issues of 1959”

  1. Tiffany says:

    I have two of the three stamps shown above, just wondering how much they may be worth?

    • eugene foster says:

      dear tiffany , I have found aplastic bag at my home. that contains some valuable stamps I would like appraised. I have Lincoln large one cent stamps,george washington
      five cent stamps, Eisenhower large six cent stamps and 50 to 75 more old stamps do you know a stamp collector who would be interested in buying them?

    • Bilinda Wilson says:

      I have Abe Lincoln 4c 1861 centennial what’s it worth?

  2. raelene b hood says:

    My mother left me two of these stamps. Would like to know what they are worth.
    I also have four of the 3c stamps Honoring George S. Patton, Jr. and the Armored Forces of the U.S. Army. I would appreciate your help.

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