Great Americans series

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The 78¢ Alice Paul self-adhesive stamp, one of the last in the Great Americans series

The Great Americans series is a set of definitive stamps issued by the United States Postal Service, starting on December 27, 1980, with the 19¢ stamp depicting Sequoyah, and continuing through 1999, the final stamp being the 55¢ Justin S. Morrill self-adhesive stamp.[1] The series, noted for its simplicity and elegance, is a favorite of stamp collectors.[citation needed] It was replaced by the Distinguished Americans series, which began in 2000.[2]


The basic design of the stamps has much in common with the predecessor Americana series and the contemporaneous transportation coils; the few elements consisting only of portrait, name, possibly occupation/notability, inscription "USA", and denomination, in a single color on a white background.[1] The range of subjects was much broader than the previous Prominent Americans series or Liberty Issue. Where the predecessors focused mainly on political figures, the subjects of the Great Americans series were well-known from a number of diverse fields and ethnicities. Only two presidents were subjects of the series: Thomas Jefferson and Harry S. Truman. Balancing the diminished role of presidents was an enormous increase in the prominence of women. Sixteen appear among the Great Americans—a significant contrast to earlier definitive issues: for in the 1965–1978 Prominent Americans series, females had appeared on only two denominations, while the 1902, 1922–1925, 1938 and 1954–1965[a] definitives had each presented only one woman. This was also the first definitive series to offer stamps devoted to notable Native Americans, four of whom were depicted: Red Cloud (10¢), Crazy Horse (13¢), Sequoyah (19¢) and Sitting Bull (28¢).[b] African-Americans were represented by two stamps, the 20¢ denomination featuring Ralph Bunche and 35¢ stamp depicting Charles Drew.


The stamps of the series, ordered by denomination, include:[citation needed]


  1. ^ Liberty Issue
  2. ^ While the 1922 series had included a 14¢ stamp portraying Hollow Horn Bear, it did not identify him by name but merely labeled him "American Indian".


  1. ^ a b "Great Americans Issue (1980–1999)". Arago: People, Postage and the Post. Smithsonian National Postal Museum. Archived from the original on December 29, 2013. Retrieved January 15, 2014.
  2. ^ "Distinguished Americans Issue (2000–2012)". Arago: People, Postage and the Post. Smithsonian National Postal Museum. Archived from the original on January 16, 2014. Retrieved January 15, 2014.

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