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Postmaster General John Wanamaker stirred up quite a commotion back in 1893 when he issued the nations first commemorative postage stamps He was rebuked by a congressional joint resolution that protested the unnecessary stamps Wanamaker an astute businessman defended his actions by saying that the commemorative stamps could become moneymakers Little did he know the impact commemorative stamps would have on the American culture in future years Stamp Collecting has become the most popular hobby in the world The controversial first commemorative stamps were the Columbian Exposition Issue Printed by the American Bank Note Company the stamps were issued to commemorate the World Columbian Exposition held in Chicago Illinois from May 1 to October 30 1893 The stamps celebrated the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbuss voyage to the New World The series consisted of 15 stamps with face values ranging from one cent to five dollars Each bore the dates 1492 and 1892 Postmaster General Wanamaker added a 16th eight-cent stamp to the series when the fee for registering a letter was reduced from 10 cents Like commemorative stamps today these stamps were immensely popular with collectors and customers The critics denounced them Various artists who visualized Columbus differently based the designs on paintings The one-cent Columbian showed Columbus clean-shaven spying land from aboard his ship The two-cent taken from the Landing of Columbus painting in the Rotunda of the Capitol in Washington DC showed him landing presumably a few hours later with a full beard These discrepancies were quickly pointed out Even the denominations of the stamps were condemned Because First-Class postage was only two cents per ounce and only four pounds could be mailed the Chicago Tribune pointed out that even with the addition of the eight-cent stamp for registration fees the most that could be spent on anything mailed First-Class was 136 This made the two-
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