Notes from the Past

Design Sources for the Trans-Mississippi Issue of 1898

The following is from a Post Office Department announcement dated May 16, 1898, of the Trans-Mississippi stamp designs and the decision to abandon the plan to produce bi-color stamps.

The scenes presented on the stamps, together with the colors of the several denominations, are these:

ONE-CENT. -- "Marquette on the Mississippi," from a painting by Lamprecht, now in the possession of the Marquette College of Milwaukee, Wis., representing Father Marquette in a boat on the Upper Mississippi, preaching to the Indians. -- Color, dark green.

TWO-CENT. -- "Farming in the West," from a photograph, representing a western grain-field with a long row of plows at work. -- Color, copper red.

FOUR-CENT. -- "Indian Hunting Buffalo," reproduction of an engraving in Schoolcraft's History of the Indian Tribes. -- Color, orange.

FIVE-CENT. -- "Fremont on Rocky Mountains," modified from a wood engraving, representing the Pathfinder planting the U.S. flag on the highest peak of the Rocky Mountains. -- Color, dark blue.

EIGHT-CENT. -- "Troops Guarding Train," representing a detachment of U.S. soldiers convoying an emigrant train across the prairies, from a drawing by Frederic Remington, permission to use which was kindly given by the publisher, R. H. Russell, of New York. -- Color, dark lilac.

TEN-CENT. -- "Hardships of Emigration," from a painting kindly loaned by the artist, A. G. Heaton, representing an emigrant and his family on the plains in a "prairie schooner," one of the horses having fallen from exhaustion. -- Color, slate.

FIFTY-CENT. -- "Western Mining Prospector," from a drawing by Frederic Remington (permission to use which has been kindly given by the publisher, R. H. Russell of New York), representing a prospector with his pack-mules in the mountains searching for gold. -- Color, olive.

ONE-DOLLAR. -- "Western Cattle in Storm," representing a herd of cattle, preceded by the leader, seeking safety from a gathering storm, reproduced from a large steel engraving after a picture by J. MacWhirter -- the engraving having been kindly loaned by Mrs. C. B. Johnson. -- Color, light brown.

TWO-DOLLAR. -- "Mississippi River Bridge," from an engraving -- a representation of the great bridge over the Mississippi at St. Louis. -- Color, sapphire blue.

- excerpted from George B. Sloane
"The Trans-Mississippi Issue of 1898"
The Stamp Specialist, Green Book
H. L. Lindquist - 1943
Posted April 16, 2000

Editor's Note:  A subsequent announcement dated May 26, 1898, stated "It is also found expedient to change the first announcement of the color of the $1 stamp, which was to have been light brown, to black; and that of the $2 stamp, to which sapphire blue was assigned, to light brown."  Sloane was able to show either the original art used for the design or probable models in his articles.  The original for the ten cent had been destroyed by fire but Sloane did present an artist's sketch.

Index of 508 Notes from the Past

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