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Stamps Commemorating Journalism & the Press

Historical newspapers and stamp collecting seem like an unlikely combination, but stamps tell the story of famous journalists, printers and of the ideals which helped shape and establish the United States of America. Postage stamps, very small in comparison to the large newspapers which flourished in the United States, graphically display in their limited format newspaper history.

Stephen Day Press

The first printing press in the English colonies of America was set up at Harvard College in 1638. This press became known as the Stephen Daye or Daye Press, so named after its earliest operator. Most of the works printed from this press were religious in nature and under the strict control of the colonial government. In 1639, Daye printed the Freeman's Oath and in 1640 the Bay Psalm Book. Nearly a century and a half later the first Vermont newspaper was printed on the Daye Press. On February 12, 1781, Volume 1, Number 1 of the Vermont Gazette or Green Mountain Post-Boy was pulled from the press bed.

The Stephen Daye Press is depicted on a 1939 three-cent commemorative stamp honoring the 300th Anniversary of Printing in Colonial America.

Freedom of The Press

In 1791,ten amendments to the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights had been ratified by the States. The first of these states in part that "Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press..." Over the years this "right" has been constantly challenged -- but the "Freedom of the Press" remains strong.

In 1958 the United States released a four-cent commemorative stamp honoring journalism and our Constitutional right to the Freedom of the Press. The timing of this stamp commemorated the 50th Anniversary of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, which is the oldest in the United States. The elements of the stamp feature a hand and quill pen along with a graphic image of the printing press screw and press frame.

Joseph Pulitzer

Joseph Pulitzer was one of the first to establish a newspaper empire. Hungarian-born, he made a success of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and then moved on to New York City where he purchased The World in 1883. He was an avid practitioner of yellow journalism as he mixed solid reporting with a blend of sensationalism.

In 1947 a three-cent commemorative stamp honoring Pulitzer was released. Pulitzer is remembered not only for his newspaper career but also for founding the Columbia University School of Journalism and endowed the Pulitzer Prizes -- awarded annually for excellence in journalism, drama, poetry, etc. The stamp honoring Pulitzer features his portrait on the right with the quote: "Our Republic and Its Press Will Rise of Fall Together" to the left. A vignette of the Statue of Liberty acts as a backdrop and pays tribute to his effort in making the "Lady" a reality.

Adolph S. Ochs

Another famous New York publisher is Adolph S. Ochs. While we view Joseph Pulitzer as a sensationalist, Ochs chose the serious side of reporting the news with his paper The New York Times. Ochs' goal was the paper's slogan "All the news that's fit to print."

In 1976 the United States Postal Service honored Ochs with a Thirteen-cent commemorative stamp.


Once the newspaper is printed by the press, the next natural progressive step in newspaperdom is to get the news out! IÕm sure that many reading this article at one time were newspaperboys in your hometown. The prospect of making it on your own, money to spend, perhaps for the first time, drew each to delivering the news.

In 1952 the United States honored the Newspaperboys of America with a three-cent commemorative stamp paying "... recognition of the important service rendered to their communities and their Nation." To the left the stamp depicts a carrier with the slogan "Busy Boys...Better Boys" on his paper bag. Below is a neighborhood scene with the inscription "Free Enterprise" -- A fitting tribute.

A related stamps honoring author, Horatio Alger (1832-1899) was released in 1982. When Alger moved to New York City he became associated with the Newsboys' Lodging House. Many of the homeless that resided there became characters in his stories that made him famous in later years.

The twenty-cent stamp honoring Alger depicts four lads, one of which is holding up what appears to be a newspaper, thus the association.

Colonial Pamphleteers

The Colonial Pamphleteers stamp, released in 1973. features a printer at his press with American Patriots examining a political pamphlet. During the fight for Independence from Britain, political pamphlets flourished in the colonies. Among those to arouse the colonists was Thomas Paines' famous Common Sense on American rights. Published in Philadelphia in 1776, over 100,000 copies were sold within three months.

Many historical figures numbered among the colonial pamphleteers of the day and included Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and John Adams.

Selected U.S. Postal Issues Relating to Journalism & the Press

Famous Persons
1930--1 1/2 cents--Warren Harding
1938--14 cents--Franklin Pierce
1940--10 cents--Mark Twain
1940--15 cents--Walt Whitman
1947--13 cents--Thomas Edison
1947--13 cents--Joseph Pulitzer
1948--13 cents--Edgar Allen Poe
1958--14 cents--Noah Webster
1961--14 cents--Horace Greeley
1971--16 cents--Ernie Pyle
1976--13 cents--Adolph S. Ochs
1978--15 cents--Will Rogers
1980--19 cents--Sequoyah
1985--16 cents--Walter Lippman
1989--25 cents--Hemingway

1939--13 cents--Stephen Daye
1952--13 cents--Guttenberg Bible
1958--14 cents--Freedom of Press
1973--18 cents--Phamphleteers
1975--11 cents--Printing/Freedom of Press
1988--15 cents--Federalist Papers

1952--13 cents--Newspaperboys
1982--20 cents--Horatio Alger (shows newsboys)