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The list: 5 patriotic stamp firsts

Patriotic firsts on stamps include, clockwise from top left, fireworks (1987), Uncle Sam (1998), Statue of Liberty (1922), and a bald eagle and the American flag (1869). The National Postal Museum provided most images, although the 30-cent 1869 American flag stamp appears courtesy of the Benjamin K. Miller stamp collection, the New York Public Library, and the Astor, Lenox and Tilden foundations.

To celebrate Independence Day, “The list” looks at the first appearances made by five patriotic symbols on stamps.

1. Bald eagle. A symbol of both USPS and the nation it serves, the bald eagle first appeared on 10-cent and 30-cent stamps in 1869. These were among the first stamps to feature an animal as a central part of the image.

2. American flag. The 30-cent 1869 stamp also was the first to feature the stars and stripes.

3. Lady Liberty. Issued in 1922, a 15-cent Statue of Liberty stamp was the first to bear an image of the 1886 gift from France to celebrate American freedom and democracy.

4. Fireworks. In 1987, the 22-cent Flag With Fireworks stamp became the first to combine the U.S. flag and fireworks on stamp art.

5. Uncle Sam. America’s top-hatted man made his stamp debut on a 32-cent 1998 Celebrate the Century stamp that commemorated the nation’s entry into World War I.

The National Postal Museum’s philately site has more information about these stamps and many others. Got ideas for future editions of “The list”? Email them to

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