Slate black, purple black
Printing Method: FLAT PLATE
Subject: Benjamin Harrison
Number issued: 31,290,174
Watermark: Double Line USPS
Scott #: 308
Issued: November 18, 1902
$2 - $3
No postmark with gum (MH)
$8 - $25
Full perfect gum, no postmark
no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH)
$40 - $70
#308 was issued with the following plate #'s
3827-31, 35, 40
The earliest known date of use of #308, November 18, 1902
A full pane of 100 of #308. There were four panes to a sheet of 400
An 1888 engraving of Benjamin Harrison
Other than small tweaks there had not been a change in the design of definitive stamps for twelve years. The 1901 Pan-American series had been a critical success both with the public and the media. Upon seeing this success the Post Office sought to capitalize on it by issuing a new highly designed definitive set.
This set would be heralded by a new value, the 13¢ denomination, meant for foreign mail and the first American Woman on a stamp, Martha Washington. The first woman to be depicted on a US stamp was Queen Isabella on the Columbian Series of 1893.
The bureau hoped that the new 'artistic' designs would create interest in the Post Office. Sadly the reverse were true. The new designs were much disliked by the public and the press. Particularly disliked were the 1¢ Franklin and 2¢ Washington portraits. They were considered caricatures of the presidents and were called Mr Dooleys, after a popular newspaper comic character of the time. So fierce was the backlash against the 2¢ design that it was replaced within a year by the 2¢ shield design.
Although the stamps say 1902 on the design, only two stamps were issued that year, the 8¢ Martha Washington and the 13¢ Benjamin Harrison. The Post Office stated that the date referred to the date of design, not issue. At one time it was proposed that there should be a further series, the 1907 series, including a separate issue for each of the United States twenty seven post offices. This would meant a large expense to philatelists to collect all twenty seven sets, so the idea was dropped.
The 1902 series begat some new experiments, the booklet stamp and coil stamps, both of which proved to be a great success. It also saw the introduction of the imperforate stamp, meant primarily for vending and affixing machine manufactures.
The vignette was based on this photograph of Benjamin Harrison, the photograph was chosen by his widow.