Designs of the 1938 Series – The Presidential Issue – The Prexies

1¢-50¢ printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing using the rotary press on unwatermarked sheets of 400 stamps $1-$5 printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing using the flat plate process on unwatermarked sheets of 400 stamps. For the first time, a series was issued with denominations that did not meet an existing postal need. Many covers from this set with solo usage  paying appropriate postage are very collectible. Highly recommended is Bob Hohertz site for the Prexies and  Prexie solo usages.

Note: All of the Prexies have collectible plate number and margin blocks, and most have collectible pre-eye and electric eye position plates.

½¢ Benjamin Franklin · First U.S. Postmaster

Designer: William Schrage
· Engravers: J. Eissler
· Lettering: J. T. Vail

Cat. # FDC No. Issued Type Perforation Colors Collectible Varieties Solo Usage
803 5/19/1938 Philadelphia 5/20/1938 D.C. 2,028,847,800 sheet 11 x 10½ orange; bright orange pale to bright red orange distinct circular
gash in Franklin’s mouth; small gash in "C" of "CENTS"
The ½¢ stamp did not pay any existing postal rate. It was used in multiples or in combination with other stamps and stamped envelopes to make up a fractional rate, typically for third class domestic mail and international printed matter.
CZ118 9/1/1939 1,030,000 CANAL ZONE overprint 11 x 10½ red orange

1¢ George Washington · 1st U.S. President · 1789-1797

Designer: Elaine Rawlinson
· Engravers: J. Eissler
· Lettering: J. T. Vail

Cat. # FDC No. Issued Type Perforation Colors Collectible Varieties Solo Usages
804 4/25/1938 over 25 billion sheet 11 x 10½ shades of green: light to dark; gray; yellow; blue gutter pair; curved line through "A" of "STATES" One cent paid the post card rate until 1952 and could also have solo use to pay the drop
letter rate (for local or star route delivery). It also paid the 2nd class (periodical) rate, the 3rd class for small items, less than 8 oz., such as printed matter or plants and seeds and the special treaty rate with Canada.
804c horiz. pair imperf between 11 x 10½ —- from booklet pane
804b 1/27/1939 about 1.2 billion booklet pane of 6 11 x 10½ yellow green; light to dark green gouge on stamp
839 1/20/1939 5,653,065,000 total horizontal coil perf 10 vert. yellow green; green joint line pair; with plate no.
848 1/27/1939 vertical coil perf 10 horiz. green joint line pair; with plate no.

1½¢ Martha Washington · 1st U.S. First Lady · 1789-1797

Designer: William Schrage
· Engravers: L. C. Kauffmann
· Lettering: J. T. Vail

Cat. # FDC No. Issued Type Perforation Colors Collectible Varieties Solo Usages
805 5/5/1938 21,727,162,500 sheet 11 x 10½ light to dark shades of brown, red brown and orange brown  gutter pairs; misplaced entry; relief breaks 1½¢ paid the 3rd class rate per oz., including unsealed Christmas cards, and the 4th class book rate per lb. Non-profits used the stamp for up to 2 oz. from 1952-58. Non-philatelic usage of the vertical coils paying proper postage is extremely rare and even rarer with the Canal Zone overprint.
805b horiz. pair imperf between 11 x 10½ —- St. Louis, Missouri
pre-cancel
840 1/20/1939 2,133,842,000 of which less than 10,012,350 were the coil horizontal coil perf 10 vert. bistre brown; buff joint line pair; with plate no.
849 1/27/1939 vertical coil perf 10 horiz. bistre brown joint line pair; with plate no.
CZ119 9/1/1939 about 1 million Canal Zone overprint 11 x 10½ bistre brown

2¢ John Adams · 2nd U.S. President · 1797-1801

Designer: William Schrage
· Engravers: C. A. Brooks
· Lettering: J. T. Vail

Cat. # FDC No. Issued Type Perforation Colors Collectible Varieties Solo Usage
806 6/3/1938 over 25 billion sheet 11 x 10½ carmine; dull carmine; rose; carmine rose; rose pink (light) gutter pairs; "dent" in head; recuts; scratches 2¢ paid the drop rate through 3/25/1944, as well as the 3rd class rate after 1/1/1949 (particularly Christmas cards), and the postcard rate from 1/1/1952 to 7/31/1958
806b 1/27/1939 about 360 million booklet pane of 6 11 x 10½ dull carmine; rose
841 1/20/1939 about 4.4 billion of which less than 22 million were the coil horizontal coil perf 10 vert. dull carmine; rose; carmine rose; light rose pink joint line pairs; plate scratches
850 1/27/1939 vertical coil perf 10 horiz. carmine rose joint line pairs

3¢ Thomas Jefferson · 3rd U.S. President · 1801-1809

Designer: William Schrage
· Engraver: C. T. Arlt
· Lettering: J. T. Vail

Cat. # FDC No. Issued Type Perforation Colors Collectible Varieties Solo Usage
807 6/16/1938 87,101,233,100 sheet 11 x 10½ light to deep violet (reddish) gutter pairs; cracks; double transfers; layout lines; flaws and scratches;
off-center and plate no. booklet panes; perf 12 counterfeit
3¢ paid the first class rate and for postcards with added messages. This was a very popular stamp and saw wide use in making up a variety of postal rates, both domestic and international, as well as special service rates.
807a 1/27/1939 15,208,803,400 booklet pane (6) 11 x 10½ light to deep violet (reddish)
807b imperf between 11 x 10½ —- horizontal pair
807c imperf. pair imperf. totally imperforate
807d imperf between 11 x 10½ horiz. pair from booklet pane
842 1/20/1939 28,309,771,500 42 horizontal coil perf 10 vert. pale to deep violet JLP; double entries; gripper cracks
851 1/27/1939 vertical coil perf 10 horiz. deep violet joint line pairs

4¢ James Madison · 4th U.S. President · 1809-1817

Designer: William Schrage
· Engravers: L. C. Kauffmann
· Lettering: J. T. Vail

Cat. # FDC No. Issued Type Perforation Colors Collectible Varieties Solo Usage
808 7/1/1938 about 905 million sheet 11 x 10½ plum; red violet; dark red violet; violet; light rose violet; rose violet; bright reddish violet (scarce) flaw in "JA" of "JAMES"; plate scratch 4¢ paid twice the local rate. In Aug. 1958, the 1st class rate was raised to 4¢. Although the new Liberty Series was out, the 4¢ Prexie stamp was still available and paid the single letter rate. Pre-1958 letters with a solo 4¢ stamp are overpayment of the 3¢ rate.
843 1/20/1939 41,040,000 horizontal coil perf 10 vert. red violet; light rose violet; rose violet joint line pairs

4½¢ White House · The Presidential Mansion

Designer: William Schrage
· Vignette: J. R. Lowe
· Frame: E. M. Weeks
· Lettering: J. T. Vail

Cat. # FDC No. Issued Type Perforation Colors Collectible Varieties Solo Usages
809 7/11/1938 275,455,900 sheet 11 x 10½ dark gray; gray; light gray a vertical pair imperforate between is reported The 4½¢ stamp paid three times the third class rate, as well as triple the book rate, in this case up to 3 pounds. It was generally used in multiples or with other stamps, often with another fractional stamp, to make up a postage rate.
844 1/20/1939 16,235,000 horizontal coil perf 10 vert. dark gray joint line pairs

5¢ James Monroe · 5th U.S. President · 1817-1825

Designer: R. L. Miller, Jr.
· Vignette: J. Eissler
· Lettering: J. T. Vail

Cat. # FDC No. Issued Type Perforation Colors Collectible Varieties Solo Usage
810 7/21/1938 about 2.57 billion sheet 11 x 10½ bright blue; dark bright blue; blue; light blue; light chalky blue plate scratches 5¢ paid the first ounce on international mail until late 1953 and the domestic air mail rate from 10/1/1946 through the end of 1948.
845 1/20/1939 40,301,000 horizontal coil perf 10 vert. bright blue; blue joint line pairs

6¢ John Quincy Adams · 6th U.S. President · 1825-1829

Designer: William Schrage
· Engraver: F. Pauling
· Lettering: J. T. Vail

Cat. # FDC No. Issued Type Perforation Colors Collectible Varieties Solo Usage
811 7/28/1938 3,614,501,500 sheet 11 x 10½ bright to light red orange; red orange; orange; light pinkish orange as with all the Prexies, plate number and margin blocks; electric eye blocks 6¢ paid double the first class rate, that is for up to two ounces..

6¢ also paid the air mail rate, per ½ ounce, until Oct. 1946 and for the full oz. rate from Jan. 1949 until Aug. 1958.

846 1/20/1939 about 476 million horizontal coil perf 10 vert. bright to light red orange joint line pairs


Andrew Jackson · 7th U.S. President · 1829-1837

Designer: William Schrage
· Engraver: C. A. Brooks
· Lettering: J. T. Vail

Cat. # FDC No. Issued Type Perforation Colors Collectible Varieties Solo Usage
812 8/4/1938 about 906 million sheet 11 x 10½ violet brown to dark or blackish violet brown; brown; sepia; light violet brown gripper cracks; layout lines; alignment errors; a dot in the gutter between stamps to the right of "D" in "UNITED" 7¢ paid seven times the book rate (3rd class). After Oct. 1, 1946 it paid the rate for an air mail letter requiring surface transport overseas.

8¢ Martin Van Buren · 8th U.S. President · 1837-1841

Designer: William Schrage
· Engraver: C. A. Brooks
· Lettering: J. T. Vail

Cat. # FDC No. Issued Type Perforation Colors Collectible Varieties Solo Usage
813 8/11/1938 1,297,989,800 sheet 11 x 10½ pale to deep olive green with varying amounts of yellow as with all the Prexies, plate number and margin blocks; electric eye blocks 8¢ paid the temporary "war" air mail rate from Mar. 26, 1944 until Oct. 1, 1944, It also paid various international rates and a fourth-class book mail rate from 1949 to 1958.

9¢ William Henry Harrison · 9th U.S. President · 1841-1841

Designer: William Schrage
· Engraver: C. A. Brooks
· Lettering: J. T. Vail

Cat. # FDC No. Issued Type Perforation Colors Collectible Varieties Solo Usage
814 8/18/1938 1,692,201,400 sheet 11 x 10½ pink to rich rose pink; light, pale to pale chalky pink pair with full vertical gutter; fork-shaped cracks in upper right margin 9¢ paid triple the 1st class rate and the fourth class rate for books to various zones from 1944-1948.

10¢ John Tyler · 10th U.S. President · 1841-1845

Designer: William Schrage
· Engraver: C. T. Arlt
· Lettering: J. T. Vail

Cat. # FDC No. Issued Type Perforation Colors Collectible Varieties Solo Usage
815 9/2/1938 3,849,605,900 sheet 11 x 10½ rich brown red to dark brown red; pale, light red brown to red brown as with all the Prexies, plate number and margin blocks; electric eye blocks 10¢ paid the international air mail rate to many destinations, particularly Latin America and several South Pacific island to island air mail routes.
847 1/20/1939 22,165,000 horizontal coil perf 10 vert. brown red; red brown joint line pairs

11¢ James K. Polk · 11th U.S. President · 1845-1849

Designer: R. L. Miller, Jr.
· Engraver: L. C. Kauffmann
· Lettering: J. T. Vail

Cat. # FDC No. Issued Type Perforation Colors Collectible Varieties Solo Usage
816 9/8/1938 618,689,700 sheet 11 x 10½ dark ultramarine to pale ultramarine as with all the Prexies, plate number and margin blocks; electric eye blocks 11¢ paid triple the foreign mail rate (5¢ + 3¢ + 3¢). It also paid 4th class rates to various zones and the domestic special delivery postcard rate through most of 1944.

12¢ Zachary Taylor · 12th U.S. President · 1845-1850

Designer: William Schrage
· Engraver: J. Eissler
· Lettering: J. T. Vail

Cat. # FDC No. Issued Type Perforation Colors Collectible Varieties Solo Usage
817 9/14/1938 664,333,800 sheet 11 x 10½ bright violet to violet; reddish to light reddish violet as with all the Prexies, plate number and margin blocks; electric eye blocks The 12¢ paid quadruple the 1st class rate and double the air mail rate for much of its life. Its single-rate usages were primarily fourth class, but there were other limited specialty usages as well, for example, a local special delivery letter and 3rd class mail with minimum insurance.

13¢
Millard Fillmore · 13th U.S. President · 1850-1853

Designer: William Schrage
· Engraver: F. Pauling
· Lettering: J. T. Vail

Cat. # FDC No. Issued Type Perforation Colors Collectible Varieties Solo Usage
818 9/22/1938 about 295 million sheet 11 x 10½ pale green to pale yellowish green; bluish green to deep blue green as with all the Prexies, plate number and margin blocks; electric eye blocks 13¢ paid the first class mail plus special delivery fee until Nov. 1944. There were other third and fourth class solo usage rates, usually combined with other services.

14¢
Franklin Pierce · 14th U.S. President · 1853-1857

Designer: William Schrage
· Engraver: L. C. Kauffmann
· Lettering: J. T. Vail

Cat. # FDC No. Issued Type Perforation Colors Collectible Varieties Solo Usage
819 10/6/1938 289,860,900 sheet 11 x 10½ dark blue to blue to dull chalk blue as with all the Prexies, plate number and margin blocks; electric eye blocks The 14¢ stamp had no specific use other than to pay a make-up rate for a combination of services that could have been paid by using several lower value stamps.

15¢ James Buchanan · 15th U.S. President · 1857-1861

Designer: R. L. Miller, Jr.
· Engraver: C. A. Brooks
· Lettering: J. T. Vail

Cat. # FDC No. Issued Type Perforation Colors Collectible Varieties Solo Usage
820 10/13/1938 about 1.93 billion sheet 11 x 10½ strong blue gray to dull blue gray to a chalky blue gray as with all the Prexies, plate number and margin blocks; electric eye blocks 15¢ paid the air mail rate to various international destinations and to domestic territories. It paid the registry on what would have otherwise been free mail. There were also various 4th class uses and, of course, multiples of other rates.

16¢ Abraham Lincoln · 16th U.S. President · 1861-1865

Designer: William Schrage
· Engraver: C. T. Arlt
· Lettering: J. T. Vail

Cat. # FDC No. Issued Type Perforation Colors Collectible Varieties Solo Usage
821 10/20/1938 about 101 million sheet 11 x 10½ black; mottled black as with all the Prexies, plate number and margin blocks; electric eye blocks Scarce on cover, the 16¢ paid the air mail special delivery rate until 1944 and, from Nov. 1944 to the end of 1948 it paid the special delivery plus 1st class letter rate. It had other 4th class, book and special service uses as well and of course could be used to make-up a combination of service or multiple rates.

17¢ Andrew Johnson · 17th U.S. President · 1865-1869

Designer: William Schrage
· Engraver: L. C. Kauffmann
· Lettering: J. T. Vail

Cat. # FDC No. Issued Type Perforation Colors Collectible Varieties Solo Usage
822 10/27/1938 313,922,600 sheet 11 x 10½ deep rose red; rose red to a paler rose red as with all the Prexies, plate number and margin blocks; electric eye blocks 17¢ paid the registry fee on local letters until 3/26/1944. Five oz. letters sent surface mail to UPU countries were also 17¢. There were other 3rd and 4th class solo usages, particularly in combination with insurance.

18¢ Ulysses S. Grant · 18th U.S. President · 1869-1877

Designer: William Roach
· Engraver: C. A. Brooks
· Lettering: Alton Payne

Cat. # FDC No. Issued Type Perforation Colors Collectible Varieties Solo Usage
823 11/3/1938 about 171 million sheet 11 x 10½ deep carmine brown; red brown; brown carmine; rose brown as with all the Prexies, plate number and margin blocks; electric eye blocks 18¢ paid the1st class letter plus registry fee and the registry and return receipt fee on free official mail until 3/26/1944. Other uses include special delivery surface mail; certified mail; 4th class and insured 3rd class mail.

19¢ Rutherford B. Hayes · 19th U.S. President · 1877-1881

Designer: R. L. Miller, Jr.
· Engraver: C. A. Brooks
· Lettering: G. L. Huber

Cat. # FDC No. Issued Type Perforation Colors Collectible Varieties Solo Usage
824 11/10/1938 102,631,500 sheet 11 x 10½ deep bright violet; bright violet; bluish bright violet as with all the Prexies, plate number and margin blocks; electric eye blocks There was no specific use for this stamp. However, there were a few special delivery rates, including military mail from overseas from 11/1/1944 to 10/1/1946.

20¢ James A. Garfield · 20th U.S. President · 1881-1881

Designer: William Roach
· Engraver: C. A. Brooks
· Lettering: J. T. Vail

Cat. # FDC No. Issued Type Perforation Colors Collectible Varieties Solo Usage
825 11/10/1938 2,719,592,600 sheet 11 x 10½ green; blue green dull to bright to deep blue green diagonal scratch which forks and then merges A common use was for mail to Hawaii and from Hawaii to Guam. There were foreign combination rates that totaled 20¢. The stamp paid several domestic registered mail combinations as well.

21¢
Chester A. Arthur · 21st U.S. President · 1881-1885

Designer: V. S. McCloskey, Jr.
· Engraver: W. O. Marks
· Lettering: J. T. Vail

Cat. # FDC No. Issued Type Perforation Colors Collectible Varieties Solo Usage
826 11/22/1938 118,617,400 sheet 11 x 10½ deep dull blue; dull blue; chalky dull blue as with all the Prexies, plate number and margin blocks; electric eye blocks The 21¢ stamp could be used to pay the fees for combinations of postage and services, such as registered mail or air mail, special delivery air mail, and third and fourth class mail.

22¢ Grover Cleveland · 22nd and 24th U.S. President · 1885-1889 · 1893-1897 

Designer: V. S. McCloskey, Jr.
·  Engraver: M. D. Fenton
· Lettering: J. T. Vail

Cat. # FDC No. Issued Type Perforation Colors Collectible Varieties Solo Usage
827 11/22/1938 49,878,000 sheet 11 x 10½ vermilion; light vermilion as with all the Prexies, plate number and margin blocks; electric eye blocks As with the 16¢ stamp the 22¢ stamp is scarce on cover. Solo rates could be made by combining the registry fee with a double local rate. This stamp was primarily used in combination with other stamps.

24¢ Benjamin Harrison · 23rd U.S. President · 1889-1893

Designer: V. S. McCloskey, Jr.
· Engraver: C. A. Brooks
· Lettering: J. T. Vail

Cat. # FDC No. Issued Type Perforation Colors Collectible Varieties Solo Usage
828 12/2/1938 91,372,700 sheet 11 x 10½ grayish black; blackish gray as with all the Prexies, plate number and margin blocks; electric eye blocks Solo uses of the 24¢ stamp involve combinations of fees and services, primarily registration fees and often in combination with air mail fees.

25¢ William McKinley · 25th U.S. President · 1897-1901 

Designer: V. S. McCloskey, Jr.
· Engraver: J. R. Lowe
· Lettering: J. T. Vail

Cat. # FDC No. Issued Type Perforation Colors Collectible Varieties Solo Usage
829 12/2/1938 1,469,132,200 sheet 11 x 10½ deep red lilac to light red lilac; rose lilac to light rose lilac pairs with full vertical gutters between stamps The 25¢ stamp, like most of the higher denominations, was not issued to meet a specific postal need, but was rather a convenience stamp capable of making up combination rates. One specific use was air mail to the Pacific, Asia and Africa, in lieu of the air mail stamp.

30¢ Theodore Roosevelt · 26th U.S. President · 1901-1909 

Designer: William Roach
· Engraver: J. R. Lowe
· Lettering: Alton Payne

Cat. # FDC No. Issued Type Perforation Colors Collectible Varieties Solo Usage
830 12/8/1938 716,774,950 sheet 11 x 10½ deep ultramarine; various shades of ultramarine blue full vertical gutter between stamps and no perforations at left (not a true gutter pair) 30¢ paid the air mail rate to Europe for ½ oz. and this stamp was sometimes used in lieu of the air mail stamp. There were many registry and multiple rate uses as well, since it paid multiples of the five, six and ten-cent rates.
830a sheet 11 x 10½ blue
830b sheet 11 x 10½ deep blue 110-subject pane

50¢ William Howard Taft · 27th U.S. President · 1909-1913

Designer: William Roach
· Engraver: H. R. Rollins
· Lettering: J. T. Vail

Cat. # FDC No. Issued Type Perforation Colors Collectible Varieties Solo Usage
831 12/8/1938 about 616 million sheet 11 x 10½ light red violet to light violet red as with all the Prexies, plate number and margin blocks; electric eye blocks 50¢ paid the trans-pacific air mail rate for ½ oz. and this stamp was sometimes used in lieu of the
air mail stamp for that rate. This stamp saw registry and special delivery use and, like the 30¢ stamp, was a convenient multiple to make-up higher rates.

$1 Woodrow Wilson · 28th U.S. President · 1913-1921

Designer: V. S. McCloskey, Jr.
· Vignette: L. C. Kauffmann
· Frame and Lettering: G. L. Huber

Cat. # FDC No. Issued Type Perforation Colors Collectible Varieties Solo Usage
832 8/29/1938 309,426,788 flat plate sheet 11 x 11 purple and black arrow and center-line blocks There were no specific usage rates for this stamp, but there were many possible combinations of services and fees that resulted in exactly one dollar, particularly with registered and air mail services.
832a vertical pair imperf. horiz. purple and black top plate block (8)
832e vertical pair imperf. between purple and black
832b (1951) watermarked USIR plate number block (8) with both purple and black numbers
832c 8/31/1954 dry printing/ red violet plate # block (4) with both red violet and black numbers
832d dry printing, red violet color, vertical pair imperf. horizontal
832f dry printing, red violet color, vertical pair imperf. between
832g dry printing / bright magenta Pl# block(4) – both bright magenta and black numbers

$2 Warren G. Harding · 29th U.S. President · 1921-1923

Designer: V. S. McCloskey, Jr.
· Vignette: F. Pauling
· Frame and Lettering: E. M. Hall

Cat. # FDC No. Issued Type Perforation Colors Collectible Varieties Solo Usage
833 9/29/1938 13,571,578 flat plate sheet of 400 broken into panes of 100 before distribution to Post Offices 11 x 11 yellow green and black to green and black arrow and center-line blocks; blocks showing registration marks and top margin blocks of 20. Note: these are collected for all of the dollar values, including the $1 stamp and the $5 stamp. Along with the 16¢ and 18¢ stamp, the $2 stamp is somewhat scarce on cover  and quite scarce as a solo usage. Because of this scarcity, solo usages on even legal-sized envelopes are highly sought after.

$5 Calvin Coolidge · 30th U.S. President · 1923-1929

Designer: V. S. McCloskey, Jr.
· Vignette: J. Eissler
· Frame: G. L. Huber and Lettering: E. M. Hall

Cat. # FDC No. Issued Type Perforation Colors Collectible Varieties Solo Usage
834 11/17/1938 9,318,026 flat-plate sheet of 400 broken into panes of 100 before distribution to Post Offices 11 x 11 carmine and black; deep carmine and black (note: do not confuse the deep carmine with the red brown) arrow and center-line blocks; blocks showing registration marks and top margin blocks of 20. Note: these are collected for all of the dollar values, including the $1 stamp and the $5 stamp. Only one cover with solo usage is known, cut from a package wrapper and even with this cover it is uncertain if the stamp paid an actual $5 rate or was an overpayment of 20¢ on a $4.80 fee.
834a error in color 11 x 11 red brown and black (this stamp must be expertized)

Notes:

The FDC information is based on the best information available. If you know of a documented usage earlier than the one listed, please let me know and the information will be updated as appropriate. 

Bibliography and suggested additional reading:

Basic Information: 
The Prexies by Roland Rustad (1994)

Prexie Postal History by Richard Helbock (La Posta 2003 2nd ed.)

Presidential Issue Usages by Leonard Piszkiewicz ( USSS )
This was a 252 page series of articles from the United States Specialist which ran from July ’99 to Feb. 2002.

Websites of interest to the Prexie collector: 

The 1938 Presidential series of definitive stamps of the United States

Note: we have listed many of the possible solo usages where space permitted, but have left out some, including international and treaty rates for some of the more common denominations. Mr. Hoherz’ site will fill in many of these missing rate possibilities.

Prexie Era Committee, a site hosted by Jeffrey Shapiro.

Note: although the Transport Air Mails are not part of the Presidential Series, they were used concurrently with the Prexies and are an integral part of the postal history of the Prexie era.

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