'Western Cattle in Storm'
$1 - Black
Scott #292 - 1898

Used: $265-$500
No postmark with gum (MH): $600-$1,100
Full perfect gum, no postmark, no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH): $1,700-$3,000


Issued: Introduced on June 17th, 1890. Earliest documented use, a first day cover from June 17th 1898

Plate Size: Sheets of 100 subjects (2 panes of 50). Brookman illustates a full sheet from a 1947 sale, although since that time there has been no trace of it and it has to be presumed that it was broken up.

Printer: The Bureau of Printing and Engraving

Watermark: Double lined USPS watermark.

Quantity Issued: 57,000

What you should look for

Light cancels

The $1 was used mostly for heavy letters. As a result it rarely had the first class mail cancel, it is more likely it had a heavy killer cancel or registry cancel, and most $1 Trans-Mississippi stamps are marred with an ugly blurred cancel such as the one shown below.

292 Heavy Cancel Scotts - US Postage Stamps
A typical heavy cancel

The Inspiration for the Design

The inspiration for the design was a James McWhirter painting depicting cattle in a winter storm in the West Highlands of Scotland. This painting was copied, without the permission of the owner, Lord Blythswood, by an American Cattle Company as a sort of trademark. This said trademark came to the attention of the Bureau designers and it was adopted for the $1vignette design. Little did the designer know, at the time, that the scene depicted was in Scotland, not the Western US as was supposed. A full apology was issued to the owner of the painting.

For members of the Royal Philatelic Society a fine copy of this painting can be viewed hung over the mens urinal in the basement of their marble ediface in London. It's worth taking a pee for.

Considered by many, and myself, to be the most beautiful American stamp ever issued it occupies a special place in the hearts of most serious collectors.

292 McWhirter Painting Western Cattle in a Storm
From an 1887 James McWhirter Painting entitled "The Vanguard"

Western Cattle in the Storm
A later Dillon Engraving

Western Cattle Drive
A cattle drive from this period in history

In the early days of western expansion, the primary economic activity was cattle ranching, on the seemingly endless plains of the west, which were ideally suited for cattle. Bison were driven off and killed to the point of extinction. This bonanza was to end with 1) the onset of agriculture, where public land was being fenced off by those who wanted to grow crops and 2) the overgrazing of the avialable land that was left. Bankruptcy soon followed and the days of open cattle ranging were a memory of the old west.

Cattle Ranching trials of the old west
The trails of the old west, originated in Texas, the bulk of which ended in the stockyards of Omaha (the largest) and Chicago, from where the meat was distrubuted by the rail networks.

Varieties to look for

There are no varieties of #292

The Essay's and Proofs

Vignette design
Die essay on india
Die sunk on card

#292 E5
The original bi-color design (green and black)
Die sunk on card
The bi-color design had to be dropped as the bi-color printing process
was taxed to the max printing revenue stamps for the Spanish-American
war that had broken out.

292-E6 Scotts - US Postage Stamps

292-E6 Detail
Die essay on india
Die sunk on card

292-E8 US Postage Stamp Proof

Large die essay proof pulled on
India paper and die sunk on card

US stamps

Large die proof on card