Marginal Markings Committee


Design Elements





Design Elements

The morning of December 26, 1776, George Washington piled his troops into small boats and crossed the Delaware River to attack the English and Hessian troops in the Battle of Trenton.  In 1851, Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze, assisted by Eastman Johnson, immortalized that moment in history with a 12 foot x 21 foot oil painting.  In 1976 for the American Bicentennial, this work of art was reduced to a souvenir sheet (Scott 1688) of five (5) 24¢ stamps.  The USA 24¢ marking is barely visible and the stamp boundaries can be discerned only because the perforations are visible.



The Sonoran Desert stamp pane depicts 25 different plants and animals, including a Teddy Bear Cholla, Cactus Wren, Brittlebush, Banded Gecko, Desert Tortoise, Collared Peccary, Tarantula Hawk, Harris’ Hawk, White-winged Dove, Gambel Quail, Tarantula, Prickly Pear (cactus), Saguaro (cactus), Desert Mule Deer, Desert Cottontail, Hedgehog Cactus, Cactus Mouse, Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, Gila Monster, Blue Paloverde, Verdin, Elf Owl, Gila Woodpecker, Creosote Bush and Bark Scorpion.  Within this menagerie lurk ten stamps – if you can find them. 



As the capabilities of the presses have evolved and the marketing of stamps became more important, the design of the issues began to incorporate supplementary markings in the selvage to identify the event being commemorated or visually enhance the sheet.  The first example, the White Plains sheet issued in 1926, announced the International Philatelic Exhibition.  Many modern U.S. issues have evolved into "miniature works of art", stemming from the example set by the American Bicentennial souvenir sheets issued in 1976.  Design Elements include two subcategories:


A.        Banners: Markings identifying the stamp subject through titles, and later, decorative banners.

B.        Design: Stand-alone images supplementing the issue's theme or stamps integrated within a larger image.


Plate Identification


Production Markings




Index to Design