The Stars and Stripes Forever! Commemorative Stamp


WASHINGTON - Recently, the U.S. Postal Service paid tribute to the most popular march that John Philip Sousa, the March King, conducted, by issuing the Stars and Stripes Forever! stamp in conjunction with STAMPSHOW Ď97 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Keith Brion appeared as a guest conductor for this special occasion.

The 32-cent special stamp commemorates the 100th anniversary of the premiere of The Stars and Stripes Forever! march and was dedicated by Azeezaly S. Jaffer, Manager, Stamp Services, on Thursday, August 21, 1997, at a 10:30 a.m. ceremony held at the Wisconsin Center, 500 W. Kilbourn Avenue, in downtown Milwaukee.

Born in 1854, Sousa grew up encompassed in military band music and began studying voice, violin, piano, flute, cornet, trombone, and the alto horn at age six. Sousaís father enlisted him in the Marines at age 13 as an apprentice after he attempted to run away to join a circus band.

In 1872, at the age of 18, he published his first composition, Moonlight on the Potomac Waltzes. Sousa was discharged from the Marines in 1875 and began performing, touring, and conducting theater orchestras before he was asked to conduct Gilbert and Sullivanís H.M.S. Pinafore on Broadway at age 21.

In 1880, Sousa assumed leadership of the U.S. Marine Band where he conducted The Presidentís Own for Presidents Hayes, Garfield, Cleveland, Arthur, and Harrison. Sousaís promoter, David Blakely, convinced him to resign and organize a civilian concert band in 1892. The first Sousa Band performed that same year.

While returning with his wife from a vacation in 1897, Sousa was inspired to compose The Stars and Stripes Forever! march. He died at the age of 77 in 1932, after a rehearsal of the Ringgold Band in Reading, Pennsylvania. The last piece he conducted was The Stars and Stripes Forever! march.

The 323 million water-activated stamps, available in panes of 50, were illustrated by Richard Sheaff of Norwood, Massachusetts, and printed at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington. The stamps were available in Milwaukee on August 21, 1997 and nationwide beginning on August 22, 1997.

STAMPSHOW Ď97 was presented by the American Philatelic Society, American Stamp Dealers Association, and the United States Postal Service and was held at the Wisconsin Center from Thursday, August 21 - Sunday, August 24. STAMPSHOW is the annual convention of the American Philatelic Society.


Issue:The Stars and Stripes Forever!
Denomination & Type of Issue: 32-cent special
Format:Pane of 50
Issue Date & City:August 21, 1997, Milwaukee, WI 53203
Illustrator:David La Fleur, Derby, KS
Designer:Richard Sheaff, Norwood, MA
Engraver:Electronic Engraved Cylinder
Art Director:Richard Sheaff
Typographer:Richard Sheaff
Modeler:Peter Cocci, Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Manufacturing Process:Gravure
Printer:Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP)
Printed at:BEP, Washington, DC
Press Type:Andreotti Press 601
Stamps Per Pane/Sheet:50
Print Quantity:323 million stamps
Paper Type:LP-748V
Gum Type:Water-activated PVA
Processed at:BEP, Washington, DC
Colors (PMS Colors):Magenta, Yellow, Cyan, Black
Image Area:0.77 x 1.05 in. / 19.6 x 26.7 mm
Overall Size:0.91 x 1.19 in. / 23.1 x 30.2 mm
Full Pane Size:9.94 x 10.19 in. / 252.28 x 258.63 mm
Plate Size:300 stamps per revolution
Plate Numbers:Four (4) single digits
Marginal Markings:Diagram Cost
Plate Numbers
Catalog Item Number:
550640 Pane of 50 - $16.00
550661 First Day Cover - $.53


The Philatelic Fulfillment Service Center offers first day covers for new stamp issues and postal stationery items postmarked with the official first day of issue cancellation. Each item has an individual catalog number and is offered in the quarterly USA Philatelic catalog. Customers may request a free catalog by writing to: INFORMATION FULFILLMENT, US POSTAL SERVICE, DEPT 6270, PO BOX 419014, KANSAS CITY, MO 64141-6014, or by telephoning 1 800 STAMP-24. First day covers remain on sale for at least one year after the stampís issuance.

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