The 1847 5¢ Franklin
|Red Brown (#1)||Pale Brown (#1)|
|Brown (#1)||Dark Brown (#1a)|
|Grayish Brown (#1a)||Blackish Brown (#1a)|
|Orange Brown (#1b)||Brown Orange (#1b)|
|Red Orange (#1¢)||1875 Reprint (#3)|
Benjamin Franklin (biography)
5¢ - Red brown, pale brown and brown
Imperf - Thin bluish paper - Scott #1 - 1847
Deduct 40% for pen cancels for three margins, deduct 40% of three margins,
60% for two margins and for no margins deduct 80%
Value (with 4 margins around the design)
No postmark with gum (MH): $2,000-$4,000
Full perfect gum, no postmark, no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH): email me :-)
Statistics and Facts
Plate Size: Sheets of 200 subjects (2 panes of 100), Stanley Ashbrook was convinced there was only one plate used.
Printer: Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Edson Bank Note Co. NYC. (later to become part of the American Bank Note Company)
Quantity Issued: 3,600,000
What you should look for
The value of this stamp is greatly effected by the number of margins it has. Ideally it should have four wide margins. These stamps were scissor cut by the postmaster, hence purchasing a four margin stamp with wide margins (as shown at the top of this page) can be expensive. The value goes down depending on the width of the margins and the number of the margins. Three margin copies will always be of less value than a four margin copy. Two margin copies are considered undesirable.
Because these stamps were scissor cut the design is often cut into, if this is the case it will significantly take away from the value of the stamp, the more the stamp design has been cut into the greater the deduction.
IF UNUSED CHECK TO SEE IF YOU HAVE THE REPRINT
The 5¢ was reprinted in 1875. The differences are subtle. If the stamp has a cancel or pen mark on it then it is an original 1847. If the stamps are clear and free of cancels or pen marks then they could be the reprints.
On the original 5 cent to the right you see the left edge of the shirt frill (the white cravat) curls in just before the frame. On the reprint on the left it does not. Also it is positioned slightly higher on the reprint.
The majority of cancels are obliterated with the grid cancel, usually in black or red. Town cancels are less common and carry a small premium. Cancels with the word 'Steamboat' or 'Railroad' often demand a 25-50% premium. Other, but less common cancels are the word 'PAID' or the number '5'. Pen cancels are fairly common and a tad less desirable, so where possible avoid the pen cancels. This rule can be applied to almost all the US stamps. With this issue there is one rare exemption, that if if the pen cancel is the letter H, if this is the case have it expertized, the letter H is in the hand of one of Washington D.C.'s first letter carriers.
Example of pen cancel on the left, normal cancel on the right.
Example of a number '5' and a 'PAID' cancel
Another problem with the pen cancels is, depending on the type of ink used, they can be removed. Often the removal will leave a light stain, so when buying what looks on the face to be an unused stamp, look for traces of a cleaned pen (or manuscript) cancel. Below is a typical example of a 'cleaned' stamp where someone has attempted to remove the pen cancel. If you examine the forehead of both the stamps shown below you will notice the trace of a line, evidence of the cleaning. Both of these stamps sold well below the average price of this issue, because they had been 'cleaned'. Any attempt at altering the original appearance of a stamp will decrease its value. It is interesting to note that the seller of the stamp on the right claimed it was a 'light' pen cancel. This was on ebay and it sold for a pittance, no one was fooled.
Later in on in the 19thCentury postmasters were often using cork cancels to obliterate the stamps, this led to some intricate designs being carved into the cork. This was rarely the case in the 1840's. Below is shown such an example, these are called 'fancy' cancels. A good one of these will double the price of the stamp.
One thing to be careful of is cancels that obliterate the face, such as the example below, which sold for only one third of the average price for this stamp.
Heavy cancels that hide the face detract heavily
Green cancels are scarce and command a premium in price. The green cancel below fetched $8,000.
An example of a green cancel
The stamp was demonetized on the 30th June, 1851, after exactly four years service. If the cancel has a date after this on a contemporary cover then you can double or triple the value of this cover.
Until recently there were few forgeries of this stamp, and those that do exist are usually of poor quality and easily identified. Below is such an example
Recently an ebay seller from Florida has been producing, off his own plates, some very good reproductions. If it was not for the obviously faked cancel these would be dangerous as the quality is good and they have been aged by the seller. An example is shown below
The Inspiration for the Design
It is odd that every philatelic resource, including the National Postal Museum, states that the design was based off either a
painting or artwork by James B. Longacre. In fact this is incorrect, James Barton Longacre was chief
engraver at the United States Mint, he would have overseen or been responsible for the engraving. Whilst the vignette was not original
to this design, the frame was, an example of the original design for the frame can be found lower down on this page.
The engraving of Franklin is the same die that was first used on a 1836 Bank of Ypsilanti (MI) bank note, which was based off
the Jean-Baptiste Greuze's portrait shown below. It should be noted that the engraving was not
from the Joseph Siffred Duplessis portrait done at the same time, which is very similar.
The stamp shows a fur collar which is only worn in the Grueze portrait.
The engraved vignette designs for both the 1847 stamps had been crafted years earlier by Asher Brown
originally for use on Bank of Ypsilanti bank notes of 1836
The Jean-Baptiste Greuze portrait
Comparison of the Grueze portrait and the engraving on the 5¢.
James B. Longacre was an accomplished engraver in his own right.
Shown below is his own engraving of Franklin, which he based off a painting by David Martin.
James Longacre's Engraving of Franklin based off the Martin Painting
The David Martin 1767 painting that James Longacre used as the
source for his engraving.
The vignette of Ben Franklin was sourced from the vignette used on the
above 1836 Bank of Ypsilanti, Michigan, banknote, also printed by Rawdon, Wright and Hatch
Asher Brown Durand, the vignette's engraver
Hudson River Looking Toward the Catskills Painting by Asher B Durand
Scene from "Thanatopsis" by Asher B Durand
Asher Brown Durand was more well known in his time as a painter of romantic landscapes
two of which are shown above. So right from their inception there was a connection between art and stamps
The original idea for the stamp
Originally, General Andrew Jackson had been considered for the honor of appearing on
the nation’s first stamp, but it was decided to recognize America’s first Postmaster General,
Benjamin Franklin, instead.
Varieties to look for
Stanley B Ashbrook, a famous philatelist, categorized four types of double transfer,
type A, B, C and D. Type A and B are relatively common and do not command much of
a price premium. Types C although rare can ocassionaly be seen, there has been one
instance of a Type D coming up for auction, in 1976. Brookman records only two examples in existance.
TYPE A DOUBLE TRANSFER
As will be seen with this illustration and the other illustrations below I have used Ashbrook as a
reference to highlight the areas where the double transfer occurs in Type A.
Double Transfer TYPE A
TYPE B DOUBLE TRANSFER
As will be seen with the illustration shown below I have used Ashbrook as a
reference to highlight the areas where the double transfer occurs in Type B.
Double Transfer TYPE B
An actual Type B
TYPE C DOUBLE TRANSFER (The 'Wagshal Shift')
Perhaps the most well know double transfer is type C, also known as the
'Wagshal Shift', Wagshall being a famous philatelist who performed a census
on this. There are thirteen known examples.
As will be seen with the illustration shown below I have used Ashbrook as a
reference to highlight the areas where the double transfer occurs in Type C.
Double Transfer TYPE C
An actual Type C (left stamp)
TYPE D DOUBLE TRANSFER
There are only three recorded examples of the Type D shift, making it the rarest of the four recognized types.
As will be seen with the illustration shown below I have used Ashbrook as a reference
to highlight the areas where the double transfer occurs in Type B.
Double Transfer TYPE D
A double transfer TYPE D
Ashbrook did identify a Type E, but he and others subsequently decided that it
was not a true double transfer but the result of scratches on the plate.
The variety the 'Dot in S', is shown below. This variety does not add that much value
to the stamp, although it does provide us with the first example of a plate flaw.
Sometimes you will hear of the dry print variety or paper fold variety. These are not true
varieties per se. They should really be classified as errors in the printing process which,
understandbly, were many on America's first attempt at printing a stamp. The ink used was
not of the best quality, leading to blurry, faded (dry print resulting from over dry ink).
The paper folds are quite common and add a small amount to the value of the stamp.
(note that the stamp is a Type A transfer shift)
The Essay's and Proofs
The original frames of the 1847 design mockups in black. The frames are on thin card, hand-drawn in
pencil and black ink with a light black India wash. The frames were drawn by Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Edson
Large Die Proof on White Laid Paper - Scotts #1Pc
The crossed hatched lines are there to prevent the transfer roll from slipping.>
Large Die Proof on Bluish Laid - Scotts #1Pd1
A color trial (1TC)
The 1875 Reprint
The reprint is on the left
The 5¢ was reprinted in 1875. The differences are subtle. If the stamp
has a cancel or pen mark on it then it is an original 1847. If the stamps are clear
and free of cancels or pen marks then they could be the reprints.
On the original 5 cent above you see the left edge of the shirt frill (the white cravat) curls in just before
the frame. On the reprint to the left it does not. Also it is positioned slightly higher on the reprint.
The envelope that the 1875 reproductions came in
The 1947 Reprint
The stamp was again reprinted in 1947 (Scott #948), easily identifiable by
the different colors, not to be confused with the trial colors. Trial
colors have grid lines.
The Crawford block of 16, the largest known block (value $220,000)