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1983 - Treaty Of Paris Bicentennial Joint Issue

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United States
57 Posts
Posted 06/18/2020   6:55 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add Bluejay to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Another quick story of US history illustrated via philatelics...

Though the War of the American Revolution effectively ended with the American (greatly aided by the French) victory at Yorktown on October 19, 1781, it was not until the final Treaty of Paris ("Treaty") was signed by the US and Great Britain on September 3, 1783 that the War had a formal and official ending - the Treaty represented the first time that Great Britain formally recognized the United States as an independent country.

(For the sake of formal accuracy, the final Treaty did not become completely official until it was ratified by the US Continental Congress on January 14, 1784 and by the British on April 9, 1784.)

In 1782, Great Britain let it be known that it was interested in a negotiated peace with its American colonies. It believed the former colonies could become a valuable trading partner from which it would derive economic benefits without the cost of having to administer and defend them. Covert discussions began and negotiations took place in Paris, France. John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay and (in a minor role late in the process) Henry Laurens were the American negotiators; Richard Oswald, Esquire, was Great Britain's Commissioner and King George III's representative for the negotiations. A preliminary peace treaty was signed on November 30, 1782; its provisions were approved by the Continental Congress on April 15, 1783. The preliminary provisions were ultimately included in the final Treaty.

For the US, the 1783 Treaty was signed by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and John Jay (the US negotiators signed in alphabetical order); Laurens was not present at the signing ceremony. For King George III and Great Britain, it was signed by David Hartley, a member of the British Parliament.

On a side note, Great Britain also signed peace treaties with France and Spain on the same day; it signed a preliminary treaty with the Netherlands the day before. Of course, each of these countries had aided the Americans in some form during their war against Britain and had been at war with Great Britain at the same time.

The USPS issued a Treaty of Paris stamp (Scott #2052) as part of its US Bicentennial series; the stamp was issued on Friday, September 2, 1983 in Washington, DC. (The USPS issued the stamp a day before the actual 200th anniversary of the treaty signing - maybe its staff didn't want to work on Saturday or maybe the USPS didn't want to pay overtime for a weekend ceremony! )

The design of the US stamp was created by David Blossom; it is based on the unfinished portrait by Benjamin West (below). The formal title of West's painting is American Commissioners of the Preliminary Peace Negotiations with Great Britain; it was painted in 1782, prior to the signing of the Treaty in Paris in September 1783. Legend has it that it was left unfinished because the British representatives did not agree to sit for the portrait. Blossom's stamp design removes Laurens and Franklin's grandson William Temple Franklin, repositions Jay from standing behind Franklin to his right to standing behind him at his left; West also added Hartley, the British negotiator. (See caption below portrait image.)

From left to right: John Jay, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Henry Laurens, and William Temple Franklin (the grandson of Benjamin, he served as the secretary for the American delegation). Public domain.

The stamp was part of a "sort of" joint issue with France; the French stamp also had a first day of issue of September 2, 1983 at Versailles in Paris. The French stamp has a very different design vs. the US stamp, however, and it commemorates more than just the US-Great Britain treaty. More about this in a future post.

As I've done with previous joint issues I've presented, I'll begin with Fleetwood's standalone First Day Cover (FDC) for the US stamp. I'll follow this post with one on Fleetwood's joint issue FDC set, one on a set of combination covers it also issued and one on a philatelic-numismatic cover (PNC). I have one or two other related items that I'll likely also present to complete the thread.

The cachet on Fleetwood's standalone cover depicts John Jay, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams (from left to right, respectively) entering the site of treaty negotiations in Paris.

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Posted 06/29/2020   10:40 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Bluejay to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Next up are the three covers that made up the Fleetwood Joint Issue set.

The cover for the US stamp features portraits (from top to bottom) of Benjamin Franklin, John Jay and John Adams superimposed over a page from the Treaty. The trio were the three negotiators who signed the Treaty on behalf of the US.

The French stamp does not duplicate the design of the US stamp. The primary reason for this is the fact that the stamp commemorates more than the treaty between the US and Great Britain. It also commemorates the separate treaties signed between Great Britain and France and Great Britain and Spain which were also signed on April 3, 1783. You'll notice that the stamp includes the plural form of "treaty" (i.e., Traités) to represent the other treaties signed in Paris.

The stamp includes a depiction of the reverse of the <i>Libertas Americana</i> medal; the medal depicts the infant Hercules (representing the US) being protected by Minerva (representing France) from an attack by a lion (symbolizing Great Britain). Hercules is seen strangling two snakes which symbolically represent the US victories at Saratoga and Yorktown. The medal is an allegorical representation of France's assistance to the US during the American Revolution.

The medal's design was originally conceived by Benjamin Franklin. Though modified before being struck, the medal's design still captures Franklin's original conception and desired message. The medal is one of the most famous - and sought after - medals in American numismatics.

The Fleetwood first day cover for the stamp from France took a different approach vs. the US cover in the Joint Issue series as there were no French negotiators to present - the French were not involved in the negotiations of the 1783 Treaty; they did review and approve it prior to it being signed by the US and Great Britain, but the US negotiated the Treaty with GB on its own.

The cachet on the cover features three portraits of French military officers who significantly contributed to the American victory.

At left is a portrait of Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau - the French General who commanded 7,000 French troops and marched with General George Washington to take part in the Yorktown campaign that ultimately ended the American Revolution.

At the top right is seen Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette - another French general (and close friend of George Washington) who fought with Washington during the Yorktown campaign. Lafayette commanded a combination of American and French troops and was a member of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. He led his troops in a series of battles prior to his involvement with Yorktown, including the Battle of Brandywine, the Battle of Monmouth and the Battle of Green Spring (just prior to the Siege of Yorktown).

François Joseph Paul, Comte de Grasse is seen at the lower right. Comte de Grasse was the French admiral who led 26 ships of the French Navy to victory over the British Navy in the Battle of the Chesapeake (the Virginia Capes). The victory prevented the British Navy from sailing into the Chesapeake Bay and aiding or rescuing Cornwallis as he endured the Siege at Yorktown. Comte de Grasse's victory was a key component of the defeat of the British at Yorktown and their ultimate surrender.

The cachet of the dual stamp cover depicts two of the Treaty's five pages. In a somewhat backwards presentation, page five of the Treaty showcasing the red wax Seals of those who signed it - (from top to bottom) David Hartley (British), John Adams (US), Benjamin Franklin (US) and John Jay (US) is shown at the left, while the Treaty's first page is presented at the right. A hand holding a quill pen, symbolic of the pen used to sign the Treaty is depicted in the foreground.

American artist Jim Butcher created the original paintings for the cachets; he was born in Maryland in 1944. He joined the Marines in 1964 and soon joined the Corps' Combat Art Team; as a member of the Team, he created 150+ paintings documenting the Vietnam War. As one part of his successful private career, Jim created a number of paintings for Fleetood covers, including those featuring events from the American Revolution and the US space program.

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United States
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Posted 07/03/2020   8:23 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Bluejay to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
As a supplement to its covers for the 1983 Treaty of Paris 200th Anniversary stamps of the US and France (shown above), Fleetwood created a series of combination FDCs under the heading of Champions of Freedom. Each cover honored an American patriot who played a key role in getting the Treaty of Paris agreed to and signed by the British.

The series of six covers highlights the roles of Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Jay and Henry Laurens. Each cover pairs the then-new Treaty of Paris stamp (#2052) with a historical stamp that ties into the patriot being honored (at least for four of the six covers!).

Here are the combination covers:

John Adams

2-cent stamp (#1031) from the Presidential series of definitive stamps, issued in 1938. Adams' portrait is based on the marble bust of Adams sculpted by Daniel Chester French in 1889.

Benjamin Franklin

1/2 cent stamp (#1030) from the Liberty series of definitive stamps, issued in 1955. Franklin's portrait on the stamp is based on the 1778 pastel portrait of Franklin by Joseph Sifrede Duplessis; it was made while Franklin was in Paris, France.

John Jay

Rather than using the 15-cent stamp of Jay (#1046) from the Liberty series that was issued in 1958 (a natural fit), the Fleetwood combination cover uses the 6-cent Fort Moultrie flag stamp (#1345) from the Historic Flag series of 1968. While this flag is certainly an important element within US history, I haven't yet found a compelling reason why this particular flag stamp was selected for the Jay cover -- Jay is not tied into the Revolutionary War history of South Carolina, site of the fort or source of the flag!

Henry Laurens

The US has not issued a standalone Henry Laurens stamp, so I can understand the need to look for a stamp that is connected to him. Fleetwood selected another stamp from the Historic Flag series, this time one depicting the Bennington Flag (#1348). As with the selection of the Fort Moultrie stamp for the John Jay cover, I am struggling to find a viable connection between Laurens and the Bennington Flag. I think a better choice for a combination cover would have been the Articles of Confederation commemorative stamp (#1726) issued in 1977. Laurens was serving as president of the Second Continental Congress at the time it passed the Articles of Confederation on November 15, 1777.

(FWIW: Of the two stamps from the Historic Flag series used, I think the Laurens cover would have been a far better fit for the Fort Moultrie stamp. Laurens was born in South Carolina (1724), became a wealthy businessman there, was a political leader in the state and returned there after assisting with the Treaty of Paris! He died in South Carolina in 1794. His connections to South Carolina are undeniable!)

George Washington

1-cent stamp (#1031) from the Liberty series of definitive stamps, issued in 1954. Gilbert Stuart's 1795 portrait of Washington was the reference for the portrait on the stamp.

Thomas Jefferson

2-cent stamp (#1033) from the Liberty series of definitive stamps, issued in 1954. Jefferson's portrait is based on a painting created by Gilbert Stuart in June, 1805 when Jefferson was in Washington, DC.

I've got a few more Treaty of Paris Bicentennial stamp covers in my collection that help tell the story of this incredibly important American historical document - I'll present them in a future post.

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United States
57 Posts
Posted 07/11/2020   8:11 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Bluejay to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Here's one of the non-Fleetwood Treaty of Paris covers in my collection.

It is a cover that was produced and marketed by the Eastern National Park and Monument Association. The organization was formed in 1948; today, the group operates simply as Eastern National. The Association is termed a "Cooperating Association." Per the National Park Service, such organizations help the NPS interpret "the nation's scenic beauties and historic places" as well as help meet "visitor needs for inexpensive guide leaflets, pictures, maps and other interpretive literature not otherwise available through the use of Federal funds." In addition to creating such items, Eastern National also manages the gift shops at over 160 National Parks across its region. Eastern is a key source of funding for the NPS, and sales of this cover raised funds for it back in 1983/84.

(In case you were wondering, there is also a Western National Parks Association that has a similar mission for the National Parks in the West; it was originally formed in 1938.)

I added the cover to my collection primarily because it was cancelled on September 3, 1983 - the exact bicentennial anniversary date of the Treaty of Paris signing (vs. the September 2nd cancellation on the official first day of issue covers, as discussed above). It's a second-day event cover vs. a first day cover, and was cancelled in Philadelphia, PA vs. the stamp's launch location of Washington, DC. A temporary Treaty of Paris Station was set up by the USPS in Philadelphia, PA and a special pictorial cancellation featuring a quill pen like those used to sign the Treaty in 1783 was created.

As Philadelphia was Benjamin Franklin's place of residence for much of his life (he was born in Boston but left there at age 17 in 1823), and Franklin had a central role in negotiating the Treaty of Paris, Philadelphia was a natural choice for the temporary postal station. Also, Philadelphia was the home of the Continental Congress at the time it selected Franklin, John Adams, John Jay and Henry Laurens to represent the US in the Treaty's negotiations. In contrast, the final Treaty was ratified by the Continental Congress in January 14, 1784 while it met in Annapolis, MD.

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