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.[2] It was replaced by the Distinguished Americans series, which began in 2000.[3]

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 Truman. Balancing the diminished role of presidents was an enormous increase in the prominence of women. No fewer than fifteen appear among the Great Americans—a significant contrast to earlier definitive issues: for in the Prominent Americans series of 1965-1978, females had appeared on only two denominations, while the definitives of 1902, 1922-1925, 1938 and 1954-1965 (the Liberty Issue) 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¢), Sequoya (19¢) and Sitting Bull (28¢). (While the Series of 1922 had included a 14¢ stamp portraying Chief Hollow Horn Bear, it did not identify him by name but merely labeled him "American Indian.") By contrast, the Great Americans series gave no increased recognition to African-Americans—who, as in the earlier Prominent American set, were represented by a single stamp: the 20¢ denomination presenting Ralph Bunche.

Stamps of the series, ordered by denomination:


  1. ^ a b "Great Americans Issue (1980-1999)". Arago: People, Postage and the Post. Smithsonian National Postal Museum. Archived from the original on 2013-12-29. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
  2. ^ Michael Baadke (December 27, 2010). "Great Americans, Still Great 30 Years Later". Linn's Stamp News. p. 3. Retrieved December 13, 2010.[dead link](subscription required)
  3. ^ "Distinguished Americans Issue (2000-2012)". Arago: People, Postage & the Post. Smithsonian National Postal Museum. Archived from the original on 2014-01-16. Retrieved 15 January 2014.

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