Common belief is that this stamp was intended to promote the campaign of the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Centennial Commission to secure $230 million to rejuvenate both the statue and the island. Liberty's copper skin was deteriorating from pollutants and her right arm- -holding the torch--had to be removed and rebuilt. Rust had corroded her iron skeleton.
The idea for such a statue was that of Eduoard de Laboulaye, soon after the U.S. Civil War. He took the idea to Bartholdi, France's premier patriotic sculptor. This country was less enthusiastic about patriotic sculpture than was Europe, with the Washington Monument only half finished and left that way for more than a decade. Some U.S. officials were leery of being offered the world's largest statue for nothing . . . likening it to the Trojan Horse. Arrangements were made, however, and Bartholdi was promised a fund to build the statue's pedestal and the Bedloe's Island site.
The statue cost France $250,000 and the pedestal cost the United States $280,000. Bartholdi formed the statue's exterior from copper sheathing only 2.5 mm thick. Gustave Eiffel, known for the Paris tower named for him, made the statue's skeleton. The statue officially was presented to the United States on July 4, 1884, at a Paris ceremony. It then was dismantled, packed into 214 crates, and shipped to America. Less than half of the needed funds for the pedestal had been raised. Newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer came to the rescue. His New York World editorially took up the gauntlet, including an offer to print the name of every person who contributed. Money flowed in, and on October 18, 1886, the statue was dedicated in this country.