WikiStamps:1898 Trans-Mississippi Exposition Commemoratives
The 1898 Trans-Mississippi Exposition Commemoratives were issued to promote an exhibition, the "Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition" held in Omaha, Nebraska from July through November 1898. To promote the exhibition, this set of stamps was issued a couple of weeks before the event began. Sometimes this issue is referred to as the "Omaha Issue" or simply the "Omahas".
The Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition was a world's fair held in Omaha, Nebraska from June 1 to November 1 of 1898. Its goal was to showcase the development of the entire West, stretching from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Coast. The Indian Congress was held concurrently. Over 2.6 million people came to Omaha to view the 4,062 exhibits during the four months of the Exposition. President William McKinley and William Jennings Bryan were among the dignitaries who attended at the invitation of Gurdon Wattles, the event's leader. 100,000 people assembled on the plaza to hear them speak. The Expo stretch over a 180 acre tract in North Omaha and featured a 2,000 foot long lagoon encircled by 21 classical buildings that featured fine and modern products from around the world.
The decision to hold Exposition was made in late 1897 by a small committee of Omaha businessmen determined to hold the Expo, led by banker Gurdon Wattles. In making their decision, the committee excluded several sites, including an area near 16th Avenue and Pershing Drive in East Omaha, near the now-dry Florence Lake. It was the preferred site for the Exposition early in 1897. 400 acres surrounding the tract that became Miller Park was considered the strongest contender towards the middle of the year. However, both sites ended up losing out to a site in North Omaha later in the year when Omaha banker Herman Kountze donated land in his Kountze Place development to the City of Omaha. After the Expo some of that land would become Kountze Park.
Many important developments happened throughout the city before the opening of the Trans-Mississippi Exposition. They included the opening of the Burlington Train Station in downtown Omaha. The construction of the hundreds of temporary buildings at the Expo was notable because of the almost exclusive usage of a new, cheap and pliable building material called staff. It allowed Expo designers to construct visual reproductions of Grecian and Roman temples, fine European buildings, and more.
During the Expo, on August 31, 1898, the committee declared "Cody Day" in honor of Buffalo Bill Cody. Cody brought his "world-famous" Wild West Show back to the Omaha Driving Park where it was formally founded several years earlier.
The following year after the Expo some members of its managing committee decided to host another Expo-type event, which became the Great American Exposition in summer 1899.
The Post Office Department issued this series of nine postage stamps to mark the Exposition, each depicting a Western scene. Now known as the "Trans-Mississippi Issue" and considered among the finest stamps produced by the US, they are highly prized by collectors; a complete unused set is worth about US$5,000.
One Cent Marquette on the Mississippi
Two Cent Farming in the West
Four Cent Indian Hunting Buffalo
Five Cent Freemont on Rocky Mountains
Eight Cent Troops Guarding Train
Ten Cent Hardships of Emigration
Fifty Cent Western Mining Prospector
One Dollar Western Cattle in Storm
Two Dollar Mississippi River Bridge