US Stamps

Architectural pioneer honored in the Black Heritage series

January 23, 2015 08:52 AM

  • A United States forever stamp honoring architect Robert Robinson Taylor will be issued Feb. 12 in Washington, D.C.

The long-running Black Heritage commemorative stamp series from the United States Postal Service will continue Feb. 12 with a new stamp honoring architect and educator Robert Robinson Taylor.

The stamp, designed by USPS art director Derry Noyes, features a monochromatic photograph of Taylor provided by the museum of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Taylor is believed to have been both the first black graduate of MIT and the country’s first academically trained black architect, according to the Postal Service.

“Through his calm leadership and quiet dignity, he earned the admiration of colleagues and students alike while expanding opportunities for African Americans in fields that had largely been closed to them,” the Postal Service stated.

The stamp will be issued with an 11 a.m. first-day ceremony at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum, 2 Massachusetts Ave., N.E., Washington, D.C. The museum is open to the public with no admission fee.

Taylor was born June 8, 1868, in Wilmington, N.C. He was admitted to MIT in 1888, and received his degree in 1892. During the course of his studies, he had made the acquaintance of the black educator Booker T. Washington of Tuskegee Institute, and was named to the teaching staff at Tuskegee as an instructor in architectural drawing.

He also served as the institute’s own architect, and would be involved in developing the Tuskegee campus.

“Over four decades, Taylor developed the architecture program and educated many of the country’s pioneer black architects,” according to Tuskegee University.

“At Tuskegee, Taylor was known as a hard, productive worker and as a devoted advocate of Washington’s educational and social vision,” wrote Clarence G. Williams in a 1998 biography of Taylor. “His first building on campus — Science Hall — was completed in 1893.”

According to the online Encyclopedia of Alabama, “Taylor designed at least 40 brick and an uncounted number of wooden buildings at Tuskegee as well as significant structures in Selma and Birmingham in Alabama and in Virginia, Texas, and North Carolina.”

The encyclopedia also notes that Taylor traveled to Liberia in 1929 to help found the Booker T. Washington Agricultural and Industrial Institute, which was modeled on Tuskegee Institute.

Taylor wed twice; his first wife Beatrice died in 1906, and he married Nellie Chestnut Taylor in 1912.

Robert R. Taylor died Dec. 13, 1942, while visiting Tuskegee.

Tuskegee University officially dedicated the Robert R. Taylor School of Architecture and Construction Science on April 9, 2011.

The stamp honoring Taylor is the 38th in the Black Heritage series. It was offset-printed by Ashton Potter USA in Williamsville, N.Y., in panes of 20.

The Postal Service is also selling two varieties of uncut press sheets for the Taylor commemorative stamp. Each press sheet contains six panes (120 stamps).

Just 250 uncut sheets with die cuts are being offered, and 500 sheets without die cuts.

The USPS first-day covers for the Taylor issue include a black first-day cancel with a pictorial design of geometric symbols.

The digital color postmark FDC reproduces Taylor’s thesis drawing of a convalescent home for Civil War veterans.

Technical details and first-day cancel ordering information for the Robert Robinson Taylor stamp are in the box below. Collectors have a 30-day grace period to mail in requests for the first-day postmark.

Robert Robinson Taylor forever stamp
FIRST DAY— Feb. 12, 2015; city— Washington, D.C., and nationwide.

DESIGN: designer, typographer and art director— Derry Noyes, Washington, D.C.; photograph— collection of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology museum; modeler— Joseph Sheeran.

PRINTING: process— offset with microprint “USPS”; printer and processor— Ashton Potter USA Ltd., Williamsville, N.Y.; press— Muller A76; inks— cyan, magenta, yellow, black; paper— nonphosphored type III with block tagging; gum— self-adhesive; issue quantity— 30 million stamps; format— pane of 20, from 240-subject cylinders; size— 0.84 inches by 1.42 inches (image); 0.98 inches by 1.56 inches (overall); 5.95 inches by 7.24 inches (full pane); plate numbers— “P” followed by four single digits; marginal markings— plate numbers in two lower corners; header “Black Heritage, 38th in a series (stamp side); “©2014 USPS,” plate position diagram, USPS logo, bar code 472900, promotional text, verso text; USPS item No.— 472900.

First-day cancel ordering information

Collectors requesting first-day cancels are encouraged to purchase their own stamps and affix them to envelopes. The first-day cover envelopes should be addressed for return (a removable label may be used), and mailed in a larger envelope addressed to Robert Robinson Taylor Stamp, Special Events, Box 92282, Washington, DC 20090-2282. Requests for first-day cancels must be postmarked by April 13.
The Postal Service’s uncacheted first-day cover for the Robert Robinson Taylor stamp is USPS item No. 472916 at 93¢. USPS order numbers for stamps and FDCs also appear in Linn’s 2015 U.S. Stamp Program.