Monthly Archives: October 2016

  1. Grills With Points Down

    The D grill measures 12 by 14 millimeters, or fifteen rows or points by seventeen to eighteen rows (the reason that the number of rows sometimes varies within a grill is that they were set only approximately o the grilling machine, so there are slight differences). It is known on two stamps, the two-cent Blackjack (#84) and the three cent (#85). The numbers issued are 200,000 and 500,000 respectively, so that a fair evaluation of the number surviving in collectable condition would be perhaps between 2,000 and 5,000 of each.

    The E grill is the second most common grill, measuring eleven by thirteen millimeters (or fourteen by fifteen to seventeen points), and is found on the one cent (#86), two cent (#87), three cent (#88), ten cent (#89), twelve cent (#90), and fifteen cent (#91). Though

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  2. Grills With Points Up (A, B and C)

    The “A” grill is the easiest grill of all to identify as it is the only one that extends over the entire stamp. It was the first grill issued, and it didn’t work out very well. The large amount of grilling weakened the paper and made the stamp difficult to separate neatly along the perforations. When users tried to separate the stamps, they were frequently torn. The three cent (#79) is the most common of the three stamps known with an A grill; the quantity estimated issued is 50,000. Experience indicates that only 2,000 still remain in collectors’ hands. Undamaged, well-centered copies are practically unknown. The five cent A grill (#80) is a great rarity; less than 2,000 were issued, and only four or five can currently be accounted for. No unused copies are known. If you wish to acquire the stamp, you would be wise to buy the first example that you see; only one example

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  3. The Grills

    The postal authorities of the United States had a paranoic streak about postal users soaking stamps off envelopes, cleaning off the cancellations, and reusing the stamps. Philatelists who have examined millions of stamps and covers of the period know that this was pure fantasy on the part of the Post Office Department. The hard evidence does not support the theory that cleaning and reusing stamps was a problem of any magnitude whatsoever. Be that as it may, when a customer the size of the Post Office Department tells its printer to look for a way to make such cleaning impossible, the printer usually will find one.


    Several schemes were advanced to solve this “problem.” One idea, called patent cancels, was to use a canceller that cut

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  4. The Higher Values Of The 1861s

    The twelve cent (#69) is a beautiful stamp, finely engraved like all of the 1861s. there are no varieties of any importance of this stamp. However, keep in mind that although most of the 1861s are not rare, they are exceedingly difficult to find in Very Fine or better condition. As a rule, they were perforated poorly, with the perforations customarily cutting into the design. Stamps centered so poorly that only two-thirds of the design shows are not rare. Too, the choice of paper was poor, being very brittle. Add to this the early “stamp saver’s” penchant for peeling stamps off envelopes with a knife (it did not matter 100 years ago if a stamp was thinned), and it’s easy to see why fewer than one copy in 100 of the 1861s remain in choice condition.

    The balance

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  5. The Patriotics

    Another fascinating area that is generally associated with the three cent 1861, though is found with other stamps too, is that of ‘Patriotics.' The year 861 brought the out break of the Civil War. Just as patriotic Americans of this century have hung flags in their windows during wartime, envelopes bearing pro-Union designs were exceedingly popular in the North. There are hundreds of designs. Shades abound on the three cent 1861, an paper varieties are collected too. Many old-time philatelists report that the three cent 1861 is the last stamp “left.” These old-timers were collecting when other early United States stamps were cheap enough to buy in quantity, before the great inflation that has driven up stamp prices since World War II. With the three cent 1861,

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  6. The Common Three Cent Red of 1861

    The common three-cent red of 1861 (#65) is a collector’s dream. 1.75 billion copies of the stamp were issued. In quantity, the collector can buy them at under a quarter a piece. This is the most popularly collected specialized stamp in American philately, and one of the most fascinating ways to specialize in it is to collect “fancy cancellations.” In the 1860s, the dictate came down from the postal authorities that each stamp on a letter had to be canceled with a separate canceling device that did not contain the town name and date. The town name and date, or circle date stamp (CDS), as philatelists call it, still had to be struck on the letter, but another cancellation had to be used as well to cancel the stamp. The reason given for this new postal regulation was that the CDS was usually indistinct when impressed upon a stamp, thus making an imperfect cancellation. A canceller

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  7. The 1861s

    If this book were being written seventy years ago, we would speak of two 1861 issues, the Premier or August issue (for the month they supposedly came out, one month before the regular issue), and the Regular issue, which was issued in September of 1861. the Augusts, as they most usually were called, have very slight design differences from the issued stamps. It is now known beyond ay reasonable doubt that they are not stamps at all, but rather essay submitted by the National Bank Note Company to the United States Post Office. As part of bids, companies were required to submit essays of what they proposed the new stamps should look like. Such a stipulation had been a requirement of contract bidding in the past, and the Post Office Department usually mandated rather significant changes in the designs of the stamps. But stamps were needed quickly now that the Civil War had started, and changes

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  8. Demonetization And The 1861s

    Stamps monitor history; they are not issued in a vacuum. In its broadest sense, postal history is history. Throughout the early part of the nineteenth century great tensions between the North and the South, over economic matters and over slavery, culminated in the secession from the United States of the state of South Carolina on December 20, 1860, and at Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas not long after.. by February 4, 1861, the Confederate States of America had been organized and Jefferson Davis was elected President on February 9, 1861. As the North and South prepared for war, the North began to shut down the post offices of the South. The southern Postmaster General, John Reagan, encouraged the North in doing this, and instructed his postmasters to make their final accounts to the United States Post Office by April 30, 1861. Reagan specifically mentioned that all

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  9. The Five & Ten Cent Stamps of 1857

    The Five- and Ten-Cent Stamps of 1857

    The five cent 1857 is a very tricky stamp because its proper determination rests on both color and type factors. The types are relatively easy to distinguish, and they, too, were caused by the exigencies of the perforating machinery. In 1860, an engraver went back over the plate and cut off the tiny projectiles at the top and bottom of the stamp, creating the second type; Type I still had the projectiles. The colors or shades of this stamp make it exceedingly difficult to distinguish the proper catalogue umber, even for rather adept philatelists. The shades of Type I are brick red (#27), red brown (#28), Indian red (#28A), and brown (#29). The colors of the Type II are orange brown (#30) and brown (#30A). for the four colors of Type I, many philatelists

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  10. The Ten & Twelve Cent 1851

    This stamp, picturing George Washington, was issued to pay the first-class postage rate between the East and West coasts. The ten cent is a stamp much like the one cent; it has four types in its imperforate printing.

    -- Type I (#13) has a full plume at right and bottom, and a partial plume at left. The line below “TEN CENTS” is practically broken, and the lie above “U.S. POSTAGE” is always significantly broken.

    -- Type II (#14) has a complete line above “U.S. POSTAGE.” A significant part of the design is missing at the bottom, including most of both plumes and the line below “TEN CENTS.”

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  11. The Three & Five Cent 1851

    The Three Cent 1851 (#10 and #11)


    This stamp paid the common letter rate that was reduced from 5 cents to 3 cents on July 1, 1851. There are two main varieties of this stamp. The #10, known from 1851 printings of the stamp, is a shade variety. The color is described in the Scott catalogue as copper brown or orange brown (and here Scott does a far better job of color description than is often the case). The #10 has the color of a well-worn penny and came from early printings of the stamp.

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  12. The One Cent 1851

    The Three Cent 1851 (#10 and #11)

    This stamp paid the common letter rate that was reduced from 5 cents to 3 cents on July 

    This is one of American philately’s most difficult and most interesting stamps. All the one-cent 1851 stamps look alike to the casual collector. However, there are several types that philatelists recognize as different stamps. The differences were caused when the stamp die was transferred to the transfer roll. Individual cuttings by the engraver of each position on the plate would be an endless task. And a

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  13. The 1851s

    In 1851, another general postage rate reduction was deemed in order. The price of sending a drop letter (a letter dropped off at a post office for someone else to pick up) was reduced from 2 cents to 1 cent. Furthermore, the first-class rate was lowered from 5 cents to 3 cents, and a five-cent stamp was issued for use on letters that traveled b ship. A ten-cent stamp was issued for mail sent from the East to the West coast. A twelve-cent stamp for foreign letters rounded out the set. All values are imperforate.

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  14. United States Philately

    The lessons learned by Great Britain were not lost on America. This was a huge country, sprawling out by 1847 as far as California. The population density in the West was exceedingly low, although because of rich natural resources there were a good umber of small and medium-sized urban centers. The post office was required to serve all these small and medium towns, and, to complicate matters, the western states lobbied actively for cheap postage. In 1847, the United States government issued its first postage stamp, and at the same time reduced postage rates substantially.

    The First United States Stamps

    Collectors of United States stamps usually collect according to the numbering system of the Scott catalogue.

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  15. Getting What You Pay For

    There should be some anxiety on the part of a new collector that he or she is getting tamps of sufficient quality for the price that is paid. This is not to say that collectors should buy only stamps in exceptional quality; rather, a stamp in nearly any quality s desirable, providing it is accurately graded and priced at what it is really worth. Quality is the single determinant in stamp prices, and you must be sure that you are getting what you pay for.


    This sounds nice, but how can it be done/ first of all, anyone seriously considering committing a portion of his resources to philatelic items should critically examine the dealers he is planning to do business with. A collector should only do business with one firm if, after trying several,

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  16. Perforations and Reperforated Stamps

    We have discussed perforations in the printing of stamps. Now we will examine perforations in the collecting of them. Early collectors did not bother much with perforations. They separated the stamps by face difference and placed them in albums. The French set the standard for mastering perforations. When a stamp measures “perf 12,” that means tat there are twelve perforations for every 2 centimeters. But you do not have to count them. Perforation gauges can be purchased: these are made with lines and holes that show, when a stamp is placed on them, the precise gauge of the perforations.


    Modern collectors pay a great deal of attention to perforations and they are a major determinant of quality. All of the perforation teeth are expected

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