Poster Stamps
of the Chemical Industries Exposition

(Click on any image to see a higher-resolution version.)

Poster stamps are a subset of Cinderella stamps. A Cinderella stamp is essentially any stamp not produced by a government for use as postage, a definition which includes (to some people) officially-issued stamps such as tax stamps, telegraph stamps and locals. Poster stamps are advertising stamps, and usually poster-like in their appearance. Many are indeed just reduced versions of actual posters, and were issued in conjunction with the events for which the posters were produced. The poster stamps on this page were all issued in conjunction with the Chemical Industries Exposition in the U.S., now called "Chem Show". One even thas a train! Below are all I have been able to accumulate so far. Thanks to the history page of the organization that runs the show, I was able at last to assign reliable dates to the first two.

10/31/17 - Collector Peter Zecevic sent me images of four new stamps - 1920, 1951(2), 1959, and 1969! Thanks, Peter.
His additions suggest there are at least seven more - 1918, 1919, 1949, 1955, 1957, 1965, and 1967 - plus more post-1969?

11/13/18 - Collector Ken Collins sent me two new entries - a stamp for the Fifth show, 1919, and one for 1973,
plus some varieties and ephemera, all shown below.

Thanks, Ken.

Again, this expands the number of potential entries in this catalog.

Can anyone else add to the exhibit below?

Note: images are NOT shown in proper relative sizes - the earlier issues are rather large, the later ones smaller.



1915
FIRST

1916
SECOND

1917
THIRD

1919
FIFTH
Chicago

1920
SIXTH
We know the Expo was held in 1918, because they incremented the show number - 1919 is the Fifth - but I have seen no stamp for 1918. WWI austerity?

Below are three tickets, images courtesy of Ken Collins - two different ones for 1918, and one for 1920.

   


1921
SEVENTH

1922
EIGHTH

1923
NINTH

1925
TENTH

1925
TENTH
missing color version

1927
ELEVENTH
From 1915 though 1923, the shows were held every year. After 1923 they were held every two years.

Below, the 1921 stamp used on cover, and a pair of the 1922 stamp *with selvage on both sides,*
telling us that this was issued in strips? An odd format, at any rate.

Based on the stamps he has seen, and the changes to stamp dimensions,
Ken Collins thinks that this two-abreast format was used for Shows 1 thru 10,
so no stamp from that period is found with a straight edge.

   

Next, an ad for the 1922 show from the "Journal of Industrial & Engineering Chemistry",
a show cancel for 1923,
and a block of ten (2x5) of the 1927 stamp with selvage on three sides.
The height of this sheet is unknown, but probably 4x5 or 5x5.
In any case, no individual stamp should be found with a straight edge.

   

ARE THERE OTHER SHOW CANCELS?
Can anyone provide scans of full sheets of any of the stamps above?

Note that the 1929 stamp for show 12, immediately below, has one straight-edge,
as do many of the others from here on, yet the stamp vignette has the same dimentions as the
stamp for show 11. So did it have the same printing format as 11, 5 wide, or the 4x4 layout as the one shown farther down, 4x4 with outer edges imperf?


1929
TWELFTH

1931
THIRTEENTH

1933 Spring
FOURTEENTH

1933 Fall
FOURTEENTH (!?)

1935
FIFTEENTH

1937
SIXTEENTH
Note the two shows in 1933 (both numbered 14th), and the change from Spring to Fall dates from then on.

Below, a postcard with the poster image for the 1933 show!
AND two varieties of the 1937 stamp -
one that looks imperforate (but might be simply a trim-job),
another without the "SEE OUR EXHIBIT" lettering in white at the top,
And a block of 8 of the 1937 stamp with a vendor overprint.
This is the ONLY such overprinted version of any of these Chem Show stamps that I have seen.
Odd, as it seems a natural way to advertise.

       

ARE THERE OTHER SHOW POSTCARDS?

Note the straight-edges on both sides of the 1937 block.
The sheets must have transitioned from the 5 abreast with surrounding blank selvage,
as shown on the 1927 block of ten, to the 4x4 format with all the straight edges
somewhere between the 11th show and the 16th show.
The 4x4 with straight edge format seems to be continued to the 29th show sheets.
(Thanks to Ken Collins for this analysis)


1937
SIXTEENTH
with vendor overprint

1939
SEVENTEENTH

1941
EIGHTEENTH

1943
NINETEENTH

1946
TWENTIETH

1947
TWENTY-FIRST
WWII didn't stop the shows, but the 1945 show was delayed a year.
The 1947 show was back on schedule, an odd-numbered year.

Below, a full sheet of the 1943 stamp, 5 by 5, imperf on the outer edges.
It looks like this format was initiated in 1929, so from then on it can
be a challenge to find stamps with perfs on all four sides.


1951
TWENTY-THIRD

1951(2)
TWENTY-THIRD
10/31/17 - NEW FIND
WHY TWO VERSIONS?

1953
TWENTY-FOURTH

1953(2)
TWENTY-FOURTH
9/27/17 - NEW FIND
WHY TWO VERSIONS?

1959
TWENTY-SEVENTH

1961
TWENTY-EIGHTH
Note that the 1953 show was held in Philadelphia - Why the change? All other years were in New York.
I see that Grand Central Palace, the venue for all prior years except 1943, closed in 1953, so that must have prompted the move.
By 1959 the show was back in New York, at the New York Coliseum.

Their web site says "... with the exception of three shows in Chicago and one in Philadelphia, every Chem Show ... has been in New York City."
The only stamp shown here that says "Chicago" is the one for 1919. The tickets for 1918 say New York. So when were the other two in Chicago?

Below, a set of progressive proofs of the 1951 stamp, which suggests to me that there were some philatelists lurking among the chemists.
AND another full sheet, this time of the 1963 stamp, still 4x4, outer edges imperf.

 


1963
TWENTY-NINTH

1969
THIRTY-SECOND

1973
THIRTY-FOURTH
Imperf - was this the new format?

I find it interesting that even as late as 1963, the Exposition was still showing factories belching polluted smoke into the air.
Note that the 1969 stamp still shows the factories, but no smoke!
Was this a sign of environmental awareness? (The EPA was established in 1970)


The stamp below may be a precursor to the series. It's interesting to note the way new technologies are grouped at first, then assume identities of their own. Early auto show were often combined with shows for electricity, for example.


I have these two covers that relate to the theme as well:

IF YOU CAN ADD to the images above, please email the author at


Click here to access my web page about the 1936-1951 Poster Stamp Bulletin of the National Poster Stamp Society.

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All text Copyright ©, William M. Senkus

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Created -- 05/24/2004
Revised -- 11/30/2018