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US Classic Stamps

Commemoratives of 1898

Trans-Mississippi Exposition


Commemorative US classic stamps were issued in 1898 to celebrate the opening of the Trans-Mississippi Exposition (World's Fair) in Omaha, Nebraska.

The Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition was the World's Fair held in Omaha from June through November of 1898.  The goal of the exposition was to showcase the development of the entire Western United States, stretching from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Coast. Over 2.6 million visitors came to Omaha to view the exhibits during the four months of the Exposition.

The Exposition stretched over a 180 acre tract in North Omaha and featured a 2,000 foot long lagoon encircled by 21 classical buildings, featuring modern products from around the world.

Bi-color essay for the $2.00 denomination of the Trans-Mississippi Exposition postage stamp.  Note ... the vignette used for the original essay was actually that used for the issued  two cent denomination.

In learning their lesson from the bad publicity generated by the 1893 Columbian Exposition stamps, with all the unnecessary high denominations, the US Post Office Department issued a total of nine stamps, having fewer high denominations, for the Trans-Mississippi Exposition set.  At $3.80 for the set of nine single stamps, the cost was a lot easier to swallow for the consumer in 1898 than that of the $16.34 Columbian Exposition set in 1893.

The US Bureau of Engraving and Printing wanted to print the Trans-Mississippi stamps with colored frames and black centers, which would have required two separate stages of printing.  In April 1898, however, the Spanish-American War broke out, and the Bureau, now required to produce large numbers of revenue stamps, chose to save labor by printing the Trans-Mississippi designs in single colors. This meant that the dies designed for bi-colored stamp production had to be retooled ... a process that delayed the release of the new US classic stamps until June 17, over two weeks after the Exposition opened.

These new US classic stamps for the Trans-Mississippi Exposition were engraved on double-lined watermarked paper, and they are all perforated 12.


  • 01 Cent - "Marquette on the Mississippi" - From "Pere Marquette and the Indians", an 1869 painting by William Lamprecht (1838-1906) at Marquette University.
  • 02 Cent - "Farming in the West" - From a photograph of a harvesting scene in North Dakota.


  • 04 Cent - "Indian Hunting Buffalo" - From a painting by Seth Eastman (1808-1875).
  • 05 Cent - "Fremont on Rocky Mountains" - Based on an old woodcut engraving.


  • 08 Cent - "Troops Guarding (Wagon) Train" - From a drawing by Frederick Remington (1861-1909).
  • 10 Cent - "Hardships of Immigration" - From a painting by Augustus Heaton (1844-1930).


  • 50 Cent - "Western Mining Prospector" - From a drawing by Frederick Remington (1861-1909).


  • 01 Dollar - "Western Cattle in Storm" - Actually from the painting "Cattle in a Winter Storm in Scotland by John MacWhirter (1839-1911), a Scottish landscape painter.
  • 02 Dollar - "Mississippi River Bridge" - Eads Bridge spanning the Mississippi River at St. Louis, Missouri.  From an engraved image originally used on admission tickets to the 1896 Republican National Convention held in St. Louis.

Double transfers exist on the 1 Cent and 2 Cent denominations.  They are not valued at much more than the normal stamps.

Being 19th Century stamps and only the second commemorative stamp issue of the United States, these Trans-Mississippi Exposition issues can get expensive, especially in mint condition, but they are all readily available, in various states of preservation today, for the discerning collector of US classic stamps.



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