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.
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 (Sc. #285-93) were engraved on double-lined watermarked paper, and they are all perforated 12.
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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