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US Stamps

Commemoratives of 1932



For commemorative US stamps (and US coins), the BIG EVENT of 1932 was the 200th anniversary of the birth of George Washington. 

In addition to the postage stamp issues of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the United States Mint struck a new Quarter Dollar coin for the event, shown above.  The new coins were so popular that the Mint, beginning in 1934, continued to strike the new Washington Quarter Dollar coins every year, and to this day, they are still the Quarter Dollar coins of the United States.

Another memorable event of 1932 was that both the Winter and Summer World Olympic Games were held in the United States, prompting the issue of additional commemorative stamps.

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing had considered issuing a long set of commemorative stamps through the $5.00 denomination for the George Washington Bicentennial.  But, remembering back to the public dissatisfaction with the high cost of the Columbian and Trans-Mississippi commemorative stamps, the decision was made to be much more conservative with the denominations of these new commemoratives. 

Another thing to be considered was that much of the country was still feeling the aftereffects of the Great Depression, which began in late 1929.  The issue of an expensive set of high-denomination commemorative stamps, in 1932, would have probably caused tremendous public resentment.


The twelve US stamps shown above were issued on January 1, 1932 to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of George Washington on February 22, 1732. 

These new Washington Bicentennial stamps are printed in same colors used for the same denominations of the 1926 Rotary Press definitive postage stamps.  The frames are unique to each of the denominations, and the vignettes feature various portraits of George Washington, made during his lifetime.

These stamps were all printed on the Rotary Press, issued in panes of 100, and they are all perforated 11 x 10-1/2.  The vignette designs are as follows:


  • 1/2 Cent - From a miniature painted by Charles Wilson Peale in 1777.
  • 1 Cent - From the profile bust by Jean Antoine Houdon made in 1775.
  • 1-1/2 Cent - From the painting "Virginia Colonel" by Charles Wilson Peale made at Mt. Vernon in 1772.
  • 2 Cent - From the "Atheneum Portrait" by Gilbert Stuart made at Germantown, Pennsylvania in 1796.
  • 3 Cent - From the painting "George Washington in the Uniform of a General with Cocked Hat" by Charles Wilson Peale made at Valley Forge in 1777.
  • 4 Cent - From a painting by Charles Wilson Peale
  • 5 Cent - From a painting by Charles Wilson Peale made in 1795.
  • 6 Cent - From the painting "Washington in the Uniform of a General" by John Trumbull made in 1792.
  • 7 Cent - From a portrait painted by John Trumbull in 1780.
  • 8 Cent - From a crayon drawing by Charles Balthazar Julien Févret de Saint-Mémin made at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1798.
  • 9 Cent - From a pastel portrait drawn by W. Williams in 1794.
  • 10 Cent - From a painting by Gilbert Stuart made in 1795.

Though these US stamps were made over 80 years ago, they are still plentiful and inexpensive.  However, well centered examples are difficult to obtain, and those can get very pricey.


This US stamp was issued on January 25, 1932 for the Third Winter Olympic Games, held in Lake Placid, New York from February 4 through February 13, 1932.

The 2 Cent stamp shows a Ski Jumper

The Winter Olympics did much to promote the image of Lake Placid as a winter resort, and they again hosted the Winter Olympics in 1980.  Seventeen countries participated, and the US won the medal count, with 6 Gold, 4 Silver, and 2 Bronze medals.  New York Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was elected President of the United States later in the year, opened the games.


The US stamp shown above was issued on April 22, 1932 to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Observance of Arbor Day in Nebraska, and to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Birth of Julius Sterling Morton, who conceived the plan and the name "Arbor Day", while he was a member of the Nebraska State Board of Agriculture.

This 2 Cent stamp features a boy and a girl planting a tree for Arbor Day.


The two US stamps shown above were issued on June 15, 1932 for the Tenth Summer Olympic Games, held at Los Angeles, California from July 30 to August 14, 1932.

The 3 Cent denomination stamp ( oops, looks like the letter postage rate went up! ) shows an Olympic Runner at the Starting Mark.

The 5 Cent denomination stamp shows the famous Ancient Greek statue "Discobolus" or "Discus Thrower", c. 450 B.C., with a World Globe in the background.

With the Summer Olympics being held during the worldwide Great Depression, many nations and athletes were unable to pay for the trip to Los Angeles. Fewer than half the participants of the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam returned to compete in 1932. Even the President of the United States, Herbert Hoover, failed to attend the event.

The Summer Olympics were officially opened by Charles Curtis, the Vice President of the United States. 37 countries participated in the Los Angeles Olympics.  The medal count was won by the United States, with 41 Gold, 32 Silver, and 30 Bronze medals.


This stamp was issued on October 24, 1932 to commemorate the 250th Anniversary of the Arrival of William Penn (1644-1718) in America.

The 3 Cent stamp shows the likeness of William Penn.

William Penn was an English real estate entrepreneur, philosopher, early Quaker, and the Founder of the Province of Pennsylvania.  He was a champion of democracy and religious freedom noted for his peaceful relations with the Native Americans.  Under his direction, the city of Philadelphia was planned and developed.


This stamp was issued on October 24, 1932 to mark the 80th Anniversary of the Death of Daniel Webster.

The 3 Cent stamp features a portrait of Daniel Webster.

Daniel Webster (1782-1852) was an American Statesman of the 19th Century, known as the "Defender of the Constitution".  He served as a Representative from Massachusetts and as the Senator from Massachusetts in the years leading up to the Civil War.  He was also the Secretary of State during the William Henry Harrison and Millard Filmore administrations.




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