People, Places and Events on Stamps

Christopher Columbus

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The Columbus stamp was issued in 1893 as part of the Columbian Exposition Issue.

Although mariner and navigator Christopher Columbus was not the first European to sail to the New World, his four voyages (1492-93, 1493-96, 1498-1500, and 1502-04) mark the beginning of continuous European efforts to explore and colonize the Americas. Although Columbus was Italian and kept his Genoese citizenship, he spent his adult life in the service of Castile, Spain.

Though his legacy is considered controversial today, at the time of the 400th anniversary of his landing on the American continent in 1892, Columbus was celebrated throughout the Americas. The United States issued a special series of sixteen stamps in conjunction with the World’s Columbian Exposition celebrating the anniversary. Held in Chicago in 1893, the Exposition was the first critically and economically successful U.S. World’s Fair. Each stamp in the series shows a different scene commemorating events related to Columbus’s landing in America. Many of Columbus's fellow explorers, travelers and patrons who made lasting contributions are also depicted.

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In 1992, the Columbian Exposition stamps were reissued to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the voyages of Columbus. For the first time, the United States issued stamps jointly with three other countries: Italy, Portugal, and Spain.