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Declaration of Independence Issue

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The 13-cent Declaration of Independence se-tenant stamps were issued July 4, 1976.

On July 4, 1976, Independence Day of the American Bicentennial year, the United States Postal Service issued a 13-cent se-tenant, Declaration of Independence, printed in a continuous horizontal design across four stamps (Scott 1691-1694). Designed by Vincent E. Hoffman, the scene depicts the first painting that John Trumbull completed for the Capitol Rotunda, Washington, District of Columbia.

The blue and multicolored 13-cent issue was printed on the Bureau of Engraving and Printing seven-color Andreotti gravure press (601) as sheets of two hundred subjects, tagged, perforated 11, and distributed as panes of fifty. Mr. Zip, “MAIL EARLY IN THE DAY,” electric eye markings, and five plate numbers, one in each color used to print the sheet, are printed in the selvage.

On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia in the Pennsylvania State House (now Independence Hall), approved the Declaration of Independence. Its purpose was to set forth the principles upon which the Congress had acted two days earlier when it voted to declare the freedom and independence of the thirteen American colonies from England. Although the draft was accepted on July 4, formal signing of the document actually occurred on August 2, 1776.

The Trumbull painting features the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence—John Adams, Robert Sherman, Thomas Jefferson (presenting the document), and Benjamin Franklin—standing before John Hancock, the president of the Continental Congress. The painting includes portraits of forty-two of the fifty-six signers and five other patriots. The artist sketched the individuals and the room from life.


  • Scott 2005 Specialized Catalogue of U.S. Stamps and Covers
  • Historical Documents (historicaldocuments.com/DeclarationofIndependence.htm. Accessed May 16, 2006)

Doug D'Avino

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