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At the same time, this break with the recent past represented a return to origins.Washington and Franklin, after all, had appeared on the first two American stamps, issued in 1847, and during the next fifteen years, each of the eight stamp denominations available (with one exception) featured either Washington or Franklin.Two different steel dies were used, one containing the Washington or Franklin engraving, the other providing the framework and lettering.After every image on the steel plate had been impressed with both design components, the plate was heat-treated and hardened to prepare it for printing.The two engravings of either Washington or Franklin are employed in five basic design themes (i.e., framework, ornaments, lettering) which in turn were used to print more than 250 separate and distinct stamp issues over a fourteen-year period.During this time seven separate series of the Washington–Franklins appeared in succession, each series differing somewhat from its predecessor in physical characteristics (i.e., paper type, perforation size, etc.), while some series would also introduce new denominations printed with new colors.Lincoln, however, was omitted: instead he would be honored with his own anniversary commemorative stamp in 1909. The Washington–Franklin issues employed a classical yet simple style in their designs with either Washington or Franklin displayed in full profile, both figures surrounded, in early issues, with an arrangement of olive branches.Many of the innovations employed in the production of the Washington–Franklin Issues were the result of this ongoing effort to improve on the production of U. This style was in stark contrast with that of the definitive stamps previously issued in 1902–03 as that issue not only presented a variety of American historical figures, but framed them with an elaborate assortment of allegorical and ornamental designs—which, in spite of their artistic quality, were criticized as so flamboyant that they detracted from the central portrait and theme.
C., these issues were generally printed by the flat-plate process, but several of the issues also employed other new and experimental printing methods, including use of the revolutionary rotary printing press and the offset printing process.
The engraving of George Washington was modeled after a bust (sculpture) by the celebrated sculptor Jean Antoine Houdon.
The image of Franklin in this issue was engraved by Marcus Baldwin who modeled his engraving after a photograph of a plaster bust of Franklin created by Jean Jacques Caffieri in 1777.
The Washington–Franklin Issues are a series of definitive U. Postage stamps depicting George Washington and Benjamin Franklin issued by the U. This is a significant departure from previous definitive issues, which had featured pantheons of famous Americans, with each portrait-image confined to a single denomination.
The distinctive feature of this issue is that it employs only two engraved heads set in ovals—Washington and Franklin in full profile—and replicates one or another of these portraits on every stamp denomination in the series.
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The relatively austere design consequently chosen for the Washington–Franklins was the result of this concern.