Stamp News

January cartoon contest gallops in on U.S. 1869 Pictorial stamp

January cartoon contest gallops in on U.S. 1869 Pictorial stamp

The cartoon contest stamp for January is the 2¢ denomination of the 1869 Pictorial issue (Scott 113). The Scott catalog describes the design as showing a post horse and rider.

Venerable philatelic writer Lester Brookman noted that this was not a popular design when the stamp was issued.

In his three-volume work, The United States Postage Stamps of the 19th Century (1966), Brookman quoted the New York Herald newspaper’s sarcastic description of the stamp’s design, “This represent’s Booth’s death ride into Maryland.” (The newspaper was referring to President Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth.)

The stamp’s design was not an original motif; several local stamps (most notably Wells, Fargo & Co. Pony Express) had already featured a post horse and rider theme.

As shown here, two other stamps in the 1869 issue also portray methods of moving the mail: by railway on the 3¢ Locomotive stamp (Scott 114) and by ship on the 12¢ S.S. “Adriatic” (117).

In the illustration on the 1869 2¢ stamp, the galloping horse emphasizes speed in moving the mail and the rider seems almost like an afterthought. But, your task is to imagine yourself on the horse and reflect on what the rider might be thinking or saying about his station in life, his immortality on the stamp, the politics of the era or today, stamp collecting in general, or whatever else comes to mind.

Entries with a touch of humor or irony stanUS Postal Stampsd the best chance of winning the contest.

There will be two prizes given to the winners: one for the best philatelic line and one for the best nonphilatelic line.

Put your entry (or entries) on a postcard if possible and send it to me, John Hotchner, Cartoon Contest, Box 1125, Falls Church, VA 22041-0125; or email it to If you send an email, it is essential that you include your postal mailing address.

For each winner, the prize will be a 13-week subscription to Forever Stamp Store’s (a new subscription or an extension).

Entries must reach me no later than Jan. 28.

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