|The Jamestown Exposition Stamps of 1907
As with the Columbian, Trans-Mississippi, Pan-American, and Louisiana Purchase stamps that preceded them and as with
many of the commemorative sets issued in the following decades, the Jamestown stamps were issued to
promote an exposition - the Jamestown Exposition of 1907 at what is now the Norfolk Naval Base in Virginia. For once, the date
of commemoration actually represented an event, the 300th anniversary of the Jamestown Settlement in 1607.
To get around the law prohibiting the use of advertisements on U.S. postage stamps,a disclaimer of sorts - "Commemorative
Series, 1907" - was placed on each stamp, rather than the name of the Exposition itself. And as with the earlier
commemorative stamps, this gave rise to a variety of "JAMESTOWN CELEBRATION" and "EXPOSITION
STATION" cancellations promoting and providing souvenirs for the event. Many of the cancellations and covers bearing
these cancellations are very collectible today.
This Exposition was not nearly as successful commercially as the ones celebrated by the earlier commemoratives and sales of the stamps
lagged far behind predicted volume.
As with the Pan American stamps, the design size was so large in comparison to the actual
size of the stamp that well-centered copies of these issues bring substantial premiums, sometimes many multiples of catalog.
There is a slight discrepancy between the issue dates listed by various authors. Johl and the USPOD list the date as Thursday April
25, 1907 and Scott lists it as Friday April 26, 1907, the opening day of the exposition. Since the earliest known covers are from April 26,
we are listing this as the date of issue.
The 1¢ Captain John Smith
Captain John Smith was an English adventurer and soldier, and led the expedition that founded
the Jamestown, Virginia settlement. His account of the Virginia Settlement is quite interesting. This stamp is exceptionally difficult to find well-centered.
The 2¢ The Founding of Jamestown
Although all of the stamps in this series are inscribed "Founding of Jamestown, 1607"
this is the stamp that actually depicts the event itself. The April 26 issue date actually commemorates the 300th anniversary of
Captain Smith's landing in Virginia. The settlement in Jamestown occurred nearly a month later, on May 24, 1607.
The 5¢ Pocahontas
Originally overlooked, the addition of Pocahontas to the set adds a romantic touch not seen in
previous U.S. issues. The painting from which the engraving was made portrays a much more austere woman. To his credit, C.A. Huston,
the designer of the stamp, softened the features somewhat, creating in the opinion of the author, the most mysteriously beautiful woman to
have ever been portrayed on a U.S. stamp.
As with the one cent stamp, this stamp is exceptionally difficult to find well-centered. Although the five cent stamp was
delivered to post offices on May 3, the earliest known use is May 9, 1907. Perhaps an earlier cover will show up someday.