Hamil-Swag: Hamil-Stamps (with a side of Italian art drama)!

Happy Monday! Following up on my previous post about Hamilton’s role in the history of the USPS, here are some stamps featuring Alexander Hamilton.

1) Alexander Hamilton Bicentennial Stamp (Issued January 11, 1957)

From the National Postal Museum:

Designed by William K Schrage, the stamp has for its central design a portrait of Alexander Hamilton on the left, with the front view of the original Federal Hall in New York comprising its right portion. Across the top of the stamp is the wording “United States Postage” and the denomination “3c” in whiteface modified Roman. To the left of the portrait are the numerals “1757” and “1957,” arranged in two lines, also in whiteface modified Roman. The name “Federal Hall, N.Y.C., in whiteface Gothic, is located directly beneath the building. An ornamental ribbon dominates the bottom of the stamp and frames the lettering “Alexander Hamilton Bicentennial,” which is in dark modified Roman.

3) 1870 Ceracchi Stamp: Based on a bust of Hamilton created by Italian sculptor Giuseppe Ceracchi.    Ceracchi was a bit of a fame worshipper, and wanted to integrate himself with the Founding Fathers in the hopes of being commissioned to erect monuments to the leaders of the new nation.  He said of James Madison that he would “honor my chisel with cutting his bust.”   Ceracchi visited Hamilton, Franklin, Washington, Jefferson, Jay, and many other prominent contemporaries, claiming that he wanted to sculpt their image for his personal use or to display in public areas as part of a “Liberty Project” that would memorialize the Revolution and be funded by Congress.   However, the Liberty Project never got off the ground.  In an attempt to recover money, Ceracchi presented the prominent men he had sculpted with the bust he created and a huge bill for his services.

Hamilton complained about Ceracchi’s strategy  in his “Cash Book” of expenses in 1796, noting next to the $622 amount that he paid for the bust: “For this sum through delicacy paid upon Ceracchi’s draft for making my bust on his own importunity ‘& as a favour to me.”

For comparison, here’s the original bust:

3) $5 Hamilton Stamp (March 19, 1956): This one is closely connected to the city of Paterson, which Hamilton founded as America’s first industrial city.  Paterson’s charter was created on March 19, 1792.  Today, you can visit Paterson Great Falls National Park and find out more about Paterson and Hamilton’s role in its creation!

If you’re interested in the history of American stamps, or have any interest in stamp collecting, check out Arago.  For more on Ceracchi’s sculpting scheme, see Founding Fatherfest on Tumblr.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s