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1851 10¢ - #15

Us stamps 15

10¢ - Green, dark green or yellowish green- Type III
Top line broken at middle and above "X" at upper right and left corner.
Bottom line partly cut away.
Bottom right and left shells partly cut away
Imperf - Scott #15 - 1855

Deduct 40% for pen cancels for three margins, deduct 40% of three margins,
60% for two margins and for no margins deduct 80%


(with 4 margins around the design)
Used: $35,00
No postmark with gum (MH): $90,000
Full perfect gum, no postmark, no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH): No sales recorded


Date of Issue:
May, 1855

Earliest Known Date of Use:

May 19th, 1855

Earliest know use cover, 19th May 1855

Plate Size:
Sheets of 200 subjects (2 panes of 100). Only one plate was used, plate #1.

Toppan, Carpenter, Casilier & Co. using the die-to-relief-to-plate transfer process.


Quantity Issued:

The Letter Rate for distances greater than 3,000 and under ½ oz was 10¢, the
domestic rate for letters over ½ oz. Because of this the 10¢ stamp was relatively
common. Not only used for foreign mail, it was used for coast to coast mail when the rate for
the latter was raised from 6¢ to 10¢ in 1855.

What you should look for

Identifying #15
(a type III printing)

13 identification guide - Scotts - US Postage Stamps

All the ten cent stamps were printed from just one plate, plate #1.

13 plate positions US stamps

Click the chart above for a full scale chart of the plate positions

#15 or Type III stamps (also known as 'relief B' stamps) were the second most common stamps from the plate (#1).

The stamps come in a whole range of greens, ranging from light green to dark green.
The darker the shade of green, the more desirable.

The 10¢ value was printed with wider spaces between the stamps than the 1¢, 3¢ and 5¢
values, consequently copies with less than four margins are sold at a heavy discount.

Plate I versus Plate II

1851 10c identification guide - Scotts - US Postage Stamps

Before the perforated stamps were printed the transfer plates were trimmed at the sides in order
to have wider margins, thereby assisting the postal clerk in cutting the stamps. As a result the edge
pearls were lost as were the edge of the curls at the sides.


1851 10c identification guide - Scotts - US Postage Stamps

The imprint was centered in the left and right margin of the sheets. There is a price premium
for stamps with a partial portion of the imprint. The plate number of the sheet is under the printers name.

John Casilear

John Casilear

John Casilear joined the firm of Toppan, Carpenter, Casilear & Co. in 1850
two years after its formation. He was a renowned master engraver.


Because this stamp was used mainly for foreign mail expect to see quite a few red transit cancels.
West coast cancels are rare and add a price premium. Grid and circular date cancels are the most
common, with the Boston grid 'PAID' cancel. New York and New Orleans cancels being the most prevelant of these.

13 fancy cancel Scotts - US Postage Stamps

A rare fancy cancel
Fancy cancels are are rare on all imperfs

14 transit mark Scotts - US Postage Stamps

An example showing a red transit mark
Transit marks add interest but rarely do they add value

The Inspiration for the Design

gilbert stuart george washington portrait

George Washington 1743-1826
painted by Gilbert Stuart 1755-1799
Known as the The Athenaeum it was painted in 1796 by Gilbert Stuart

Perhaps the most famous portrait in the US, probably due to the fact that it's presence graces the
front of the $1 bill, this portrait was in fact unfinished at the time of Gilbert's deathin 1828.
It now hangs in the Boston Museum of Fine Art (Gilbert was one of Boston's more famous sons).

An excellent website on this portrait can be found here.

gilbert stuart self portrait
Gilbert Stuart Self Portrait

Varieties to look for

Position #85L

Position 85L has a curl in the forehead

The Essay's and Proofs

History left us with just three essays of the 10¢, none of which have I seen come up
for auction in the last thirty years. I do have an image of a rare trial proof, seen below.

13 TC

Trial Color Proof

1851 US Postage Stamps 5 US 1851 Scotts - US Postage Stamps 5A 1851 Scotts - US Postage Stamps 6 1851 Scotts - US Postage Stamps 6b 1851 Scotts - US Postage Stamps 7 1851 Scotts - US Postage Stamps 8 1851 Scotts - US Postage Stamps 8A 1851 Scotts - US Postage Stamps 9 1851 Scotts - US Postage Stamps 1851 US Postage Stamp Essays