The US pharmacy stamp was introduced 45 years ago this month. The 8-cent stamp bears the word “pharmacy” against a black background and contains a yellow mortar and pestle and 2 medications bottles. 

The stamp honors the men and woman who serve the pharmacy profession. It has adorned a plethora of items, including keychains, plaques, mugs, and even belt buckles. No other stamp has been admired as much throughout its 45-year history.

When a new US postage stamp is first introduced, a ceremony is held in a particular city on a particular day. The pharmacy stamp was introduced in Cincinnati, Ohio, at the American Pharmaceutical Association convention. 

At that time, many stamp companies, pharmaceutical companies, pharmacy societies, and individuals designed pictorial envelopes to which they affixed the pharmacy stamp. These commemorative envelopes of first-day covers (FDCs) had the stamp postmarked with a special cancellation, reading “first day of issue."

The captions beneath the FDCs are courtesy of pharmacy historian George Griffenhagen, who was responsible for my start in collecting pharmacy stamp FDCs and supplied me with much assistance and materials through the years. I began my collection in 1979, when I attended a history of pharmacy presentation in Trenton, New Jersey, and he was the speaker. He had a vast collection of pharmacy FDCs, and I was inspired by both his program and his covers. So I began my collection. I purchased FDCs from stamp shops, stamp exhibits, stamp shows, catalogues, and online. I have subsequently written several articles about the pharmacy stamp and have had several written about me. 

In the first example above,  Schering Corp created its own cachet, which was printed in a sepia by Artcraft. Schering used the same illustration on a large plaque.
Ortho Pharmaceutical Corp created this orange and black cachet for its FDC.
Drug Topics adapted the Artcraft cachet printed in blue for its FDC of the pharmacy stamp.
Pharmacy Times had Stevan Dohanos create a special cachet, titled: "Pharmacy Memorabilia," which was printed in black by Artcraft.
The National Association of Retail Druggists developed this brown cachet from Parke-Davis.
Eli Lilly and Co used this black, burnt-orange, and blue cachet to honor the profession of pharmacy.
Geigy Pharmaceuticals used this black and gold cachet on a light blue cover for its FDC, with an insert signed by Jack Shotsberger, vice president of marketing.
The American Pharmaceutical Association's official cachet in black and green was designed by Bernard Sanders.
George H. Goldey of Canton, Texas, prepared this black cachet, with President Richard M. Nixon saluting the American Pharmaceutical Association.
Southern Commemorative Society of Birmingham, Alabama, offered this black, blue, and red philatelic cover with a silver medallion.

Daniel Shifrin is a registered pharmacist with a master’s degree in hospital pharmacy administration. He welcomes any opportunity to display his pharmacy stamp FDCs. Email him at