Digest>Archives> April 2003

Southeastern Lighthouse Stamps

First Day of Issue—June 13

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WASHINGTON - Come mid-June, the images of five lighthouses will extend the horizon to millions of envelopes around the nation when the U.S. Postal Service continues its popular series of lighthouse commemorative stamps. Located along the coast of the United States from Virginia to southern Florida, these five structures-Old Cape Henry, Cape Lookout, Morris Island, Tybee Island, and Hillsboro Inlet-were selected because they typify the beauty and colorful history of the nation’s lighthouses.

The 37-cent postage stamps will be dedicated at an official first day of issue ceremony for these Southeastern Lighthouses on June 13th at 10:30 a.m. at the Tybee Island Lighthouse, Tybee, GA. The event is free and open to the public.

Located on the grounds of Fort Story in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Old Cape Henry Lighthouse-the first lighthouse constructed by the U.S. government-began protecting the southern mouth of the Chesapeake Bay in 1792. Although it was replaced by a new lighthouse in 1881, this tower’s unpainted sandstone exterior continued to be used as a daytime navigational aid by vessels sailing around Cape Henry. Today it is owned by the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities and is open to the public.

Cape Lookout Lighthouse is located on Core Banks along Cape Lookout National Seashore near Beaufort, North Carolina, and was first activated in 1859. Replacing a smaller tower established in 1812, this conical brick lighthouse with its painted black-and-white diamond pattern exterior warned ships of the dangerous hidden shoals near the cape, which came to be known as Promontorium Tremendum, or “Horrible Headland.” Automated in 1950, the lighthouse is owned and operated by the U.S. Coast Guard. Plans are in place to transfer ownership of the lighthouse to the National Park Service early in 2003.

Located on Morris Island at the entrance to the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina, Morris Island Lighthouse began operation in 1876 on the site of an earlier lighthouse that had been established in 1767 but destroyed during the Civil War. Threatened by severe erosion, it was fully automated in 1938 and operated until 1962 when it was replaced by a modern lighthouse on Sullivan’s Island to the north. Since the late 19th century this historic lighthouse has weathered hurricanes, a major earthquake, and the total erosion of the land around its foundation-yet it still stands. Today Morris Island Lighthouse is owned by the state of South Carolina, which has leased it to Save The Light, Inc., a nonprofit group dedicated to its protection and preservation.

Tybee Island Lighthouse was built in 1773 on Tybee Island east of Savannah, Georgia, and near the sites of two earlier lighthouses destroyed by storms. All but 60 feet of the original tower was destroyed during the Civil War, but by 1867 it had been rebuilt and restored to operation. Marking the mouth of the Savannah River, this lighthouse continues to guide ships safely into Savannah harbor. In 1999 the octagonal lighthouse was repainted with a white band sandwiched between two black ones so that its exterior now appears as it did from 1916 to 1964. The Tybee light station is one of few with all of its associated historic buildings intact, and today the Tybee Island Historical Society is working to restore them to their early 20th-century appearance. On October 1, 2002, the U.S. Coast Guard transferred ownership of the lighthouse and its grounds to the Tybee Island Historical Society.

The Hillsboro Inlet Lighthouse was built under government contract in Detroit, Michigan, then erected and inspected prior to being shipped in parts to its present location near Pompano Beach, Florida. This octagonal, iron-skeleton tower was reassembled and activated in 1907. Its daymark-black on the top portion and white below-distinguishes it from lighthouses to the north and south. Fully automated since 1974, its beam can be seen from a distance of more than 20 miles.

The Postal Service has a history of including lighthouse images on stamps. In 1995 five 32-cent Great Lake Lighthouses stamps were issued as a booklet: Split Rock Lighthouse, Lake Superior; Spectacle Reef, Lake Huron; Marblehead, Lake Erie; St. Joseph, Lake Michigan and Thirty-two Mile Point, Lake Ontario.

These five stamps feature original acrylic paintings by Howard Koslow based on recent photographs of the lighthouses.

Koslow also painted the five stamps in the 1990 Lighthouses booklet, as well as the five Great Lakes Lighthouses stamps issued in 1995.

Howard Koslow has received commissions for paintings that can be seen at the U.S. Air Force Academy; the National Air and Space Museum; and the NASA Art Gallery, Kennedy Space Center, Florida. The National Park Service has also commissioned him to create paintings for its historical art collections.

Koslow’s previous projects for the U.S. Postal Service include eight 1940s Celebrate The Century stamps, five stamps portraying Great Lakes lighthouses (1995), and four stamps featuring jazz/blues singers Mildred Bailey, Billie Holiday, Jimmy Rushing, and Bessie Smith (1994). He has also designed several stamped cards including Carnegie Hall (1991), Ellis Island (1992), and the National Cathedral (1993). He lives in Toms River, New Jersey.

Current U.S. stamps, as well as a free comprehensive catalog, are available toll free by calling 1-800 STAMP-24. In addition, a selection of stamps and other philatelic items are available in the Postal Store at www.usps.com/shop

This story appeared in the April 2003 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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