Postage Stamps of the United States First Issued in 1920

President: Woodrow Wilson · Postmaster General: Albert S. Burleson.
Domestic Letter Rate: 2¢ per oz. · Postcard Rate: 1¢ · Air Mail Rate: 6¢ per oz.

The Pilgrim Tercentenary

Flat Plate – Perf 11 – 280 Subject Plates.

The Mayflower 137,978,207 issued First Day: Dec. 21, 1920 Landing of the Pilgrims 196,037,327 issued First Day: Dec. 21, 1920 Signing of the Compact 11,321,607 issued First Day: Dec. 21, 1920

The story of the “Pilgrims” is well known to most Americans and is of course celebrated every year at Thanksgiving. The browns and golds of autumn, the corn, squash, cranberries and turkey have made the holiday a family celebration of the bounty America has to offer, but the true story is much more complex. This series of commemoratives is not only about the Pilgrims and Thanksgiving, it is about the foundations of American democracy.

In the early 1600’s many English protestants, frustrated with the pomp and ritual of the Anglican Church, formed a sect they called the “Separatists”, that sought a simpler form of worship. Persecution from the Church of England forced many to leave for what is now the Netherlands, Belgium and northern France, where they founded colonies known as the Huguenots and Walloons.

The Jamestown colony of 1608 was a commercial venture based on a Charter given to a group of London entrepreneurs, known as the “Virginia Company”, to establish an English settlement in Virginia. Although the first attempt at settlement in Jamestown, Virginia failed miserably, the Separatists saw an opportunity. They were able to provide the bodies, many of them skilled artisans, while the Virginia Company and a London merchant provided the Charter and the financial backing needed to establish a settlement in the New World.

The Mayflower’s trip to America and the landing at Plymouth Rock are universally known. Perhaps less well known is the fact the the ship was blown off course in a northerly direction and landed in an area of North America that was not part of the Virginia Charter, which only extended to the mouth of the Hudson River near what is now New York City. Nevertheless the settlement was made in Massachusetts near Plymouth Rock and, although facing many hardships including the loss of more than half the settlers in the first winter, proved successful. Ten years later, a much larger emigration of settlers arrived in Massachusetts Bay , settling in Boston, securing the future of the English presence in New England.

Often lost in the Thanksgiving tradition is the impact that the Mayflower Compact had on the shape of world history, for in it lay the seeds of the American Constitution, symbolizing the equality and freedom of expression and belief that are the hallmarks of American democracy.

The Pilgrim Tercentenary Series commemorated both the settlement and the ideals of events that are so firmly entrenched in the American consciousness that it was not felt necessary to include the country of origin on the stamps, the first time the U.S. had omitted the words “U.S.” from its stamps.

Earliest known covers from Plymouth, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. are dated December 21, 1920. We could not find an example of a solo usage of the 5¢ stamp with that first date, however the entire set is known on first day cover and is highly collectible.

The following postage stamp varieties were first issued by the U.S. in 1919:

No new varieties of U.S. Air Mail stamps were issued in 1920
No new varieties of U.S. Special Delivery stamps were issued in 1920
No new varieties of U.S. Postage Due stamps were issued in 1920.

Ordinary issue:

Scott 482A – 2¢ Washington flat plate imperforate Type Ia – EKU: 2/17/20
Scott 526 – 2¢ Washington offset Type IV – EDU: 3/13/20 (predates FDC of 3/15/20)
Scott 527 – 2¢ Washington offset Type V – EDU: 4/20/20
Scott 528 – 2¢ Washington offset Type Va – EDU: 6/18/20
Scott 528A – 2¢ Washington offset Type VI – EKU: 7/30/20
Scott 528B – 2¢ Washington offset Type VII – EKU: 11/10/20
Scott 532 – 2¢ Washington offset Type IV – EDU: 4/28/20
Scott 533 – 2¢ Washington offset Type V – EDU: 9/29/20
Scott 534 – 2¢ Washington offset Type Va – EDU: 6/24/20
Scott 534A – 2¢ Washington offset Type VI – EDU: 8/31/20
Scott 534B – 2¢ Washington offset Type VII – EKU: 10/20/20
Scott 542 – 1¢ Washington rotary perf 10 x 11 – EDU: 5/26/20
Scott 547 – $2 red and black Franklin – EKU: 12/6/20.


Designer: Claire Aubrey Huston – Engravers: Louis S. Schofield, Edward M. Weeks and G. F. C. Smillie
Scott 548 – 1¢ Pilgrim Tercentenary
Scott 549 – 2¢ Pilgrim Tercentenary
Scott 550 – 5¢ Pilgrim Tercentenary.