The Twenty-cent Prexie
James A. Garfield was, very briefly, the twentieth President of the United States, assassinated within months of taking office. The Garfield likeness featured on the twenty-cent value of the Prexies was taken from a Presidential medal produced by the United States Mint. The stamps were issued in sheet format only. They were first released on November 10, 1938, with a total of 2,719,592,600 being issued through 1958.
Twenty-cent Prexies were often used to pay airmail rates. From early 1937 until mid-January of 1945 twenty cents was the airmail rate to and from Hawaii as well as between Hawaii and Guam until late 1946. It was the rate to British Honduras between early 1938 and early 1945, and Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay from early 1945 until late 1946. There were some twenty-cent combinations of surface mail to Europe and air to Kenya, Nigeria, the Sudan and Tanganyika, as well as some very brief periods of such to India and Taiwan.
In domestic postal use, a solo twenty-cent Prexie can be found paying postage and fees for a registered local letter with return receipt requested, as well as for a registered local letter with second step indemnity. Twenty cents was also the charge for a registered surface letter sent to a full rate UPU country from the beginning of the Prexie period until February 1, 1945.
When twenty cents became the minimum registry fee in 1944 it became possible to find otherwise free mail with a solo twenty-cent Prexie paying that fee. Similarly, when the special delivery fee became twenty cents in 1952, official mail sent free with special delivery could use a twenty-cent Prexie. Mail sent free with a COD fee incurred a fee of twenty cents for two different collection and indemnity levels from late 1944 to 1952. Other solo possibilities involved the small packet surface rate to UPU countries and some multiple rates.
Various third and fourth class rates also could provide opportunities for a solo twenty-cent franking, particularly when using insurance or other services.