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

1851 3¢ - #10

3¢ - Orange brown TYPE I, Deep Orange Brown
20,000,000 - Imperf - Scott #10 - 1851

Prices are for four margin copies WITH gum
Deduct 40% for pen cancels, deduct 40% for three margins,
60% for two margins and for no margins deduct 80%

Value (with 4 margins around the design)
Used: $15-$35
No postmark with gum (MH): $350-$700
Full perfect gum, no postmark, no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH): $35,000-$50,000

CAUTION! Items sold as #10 on ebay are rarely a true #10, they are more usually number 11.
A certificate is a must, for unused copies of this issue. This stamp can be easily
confused with the less valuable experimental orange brown used for number 11.
Notice the stamp above has a cleaned pen cancel, as can be seen by the faint brown
line across the face. This stamp was advertised on ebay as being unused.

3¢ - Copper brown, Orange Brown, TYPE II
20,000,000 - Imperf - Scott #10A - 1851
Prices are for four margin examples
See the bottom of this page for a guide to the colors


July 1st, 1851

Earliest Date of Use:
Plate 1E, July 1st, 1851, Plate 1L July 12th 1851, Plate 2E
July 23rd 1851, Plate 5E July 19th 1851, Plate 0 September 1851

10 fdc Scotts - US Postage Stamps
A first day covery of #10

Plate Size:
Sheets of 200 subjects (2 panes of 100).

pane 0f 1851 3 cents (3c) Scotts - US Postage Stamps
A pane of 100 of the 3¢ Imperf (Plate 3)

10 reconstruction Scotts - US Postage Stamps

A reconstruction of plate 2 early, right pane

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


Quantity Issued: 20 Million (Seventeen times more scarce than #11).

Not until April 1st 1855 did it become compulsory to pre-pay
(via a stamp or stamped envelope) to have your letter mailed.

The three cent stamp paid the ordinary letter rate, and two or more would be required on double, triple,
etc., letters. The single postage to California was six cents which was the double letter rate. There
was also the double rate to California supplied by four three cent stamps, etc. Double rate was defined
as a distance exceeding 3,000 miles. A letter weighing less than ½ an ounce was single rate. Each
additional ½ ounce was charged an additional single stamp (with the exception of CA, where it would
an additional two stamps).

The foriegn rate was supplied by the 10 and 20¢ rate, so strips or singles of the 3¢ can be
found on these as well. At this time pre payment of envelopes was optional. Many chose to have the letter
paid for by recipient at the foreign destination.

Plate Identification

#10 originates from Plates 1e, 1i, 2e, 5e, and 0.

Plate 1 Inner Lines always recut
Plate 2 (E) Both outer and inner lines heavily recut
Plate 2 (L) Both outer and inner lines heavily recut (sometimes fainter)
Plate 3 Clearly cut
Plate 4 Rarely recut
Plate 5 Faintly recut except 8 positions show inner line lightly recut
Plate 6 No recut except 1 position
Plate 7 No recut except 1 position
Plate 8 No inner lines

Plate 1 Experimental orange brown, brown, brownish carmine, clarets, dull red, rose red, orange red
Plate 2 (E) Orange brown only
Plate 2 (L) All colors except orange brown and yellowish rose red
Plate 3 All colors except orange brown and yellowish rose red
Plate 4 All colors
Plate 5 All colors
Plate 6 All colors
Plate 7 All colors
Plate 8 All colors

Plate 1 Recut gouged out at top except two stamps not recut
Plate 2 (E) Recut by one straight line at top except one stamp gouged out
Plate 2 (L) As 2(E) Plates 2 and 3 can only be told apart by plating
Plate 3 As 2(E) Plates 2 and 3 can only be told apart by plating. Lines are sometimes fainter than 2(L)
Plate 4 Left line usually recut or split and close to design
Plate 5 More lightly recut than 2L
Plate 6 Bottom frame lightly recut except bottom row positions.
Plate 7 As plate 6, cannot be told apart from plate 6 except by plating.
Plate 8 Never recut


The distance between the stamps varies considerably in different plates. In some, they are only 7/10 mm. apart
between the tops and bottoms, in others a little over 1mm. In some they are only 9/10 mm. apart between the side
lines, in other fully 1 2/10 mm. apart. Specimens with broad, white margins show the the paper to have extended,
sometimes 15mm. beyond the stamps. The vertical lines are then 6mm. or 2 ½, 3 and 3 ½ mm. from the center rows.

What exactly does position 6RIE, 8RIE etc mean excactly?

The first indicator is a number indicates its position on the plate, so 3RIE would have come from the third stamp on
the plate. The number can range from 1 to 100, there being 100 stamps on each plate.

The second indicator is either the letter R or L, R indicates the stamp came from the right pane, L for the left pane.
The stamp was printed in sheets of 200, each sheet was further divided into two panes of 100. Hence 3RIE would have
come from the right pane as the second indicator in 3R1E is the letter R.

The third indicator can be from numbers I (1) to XII (12). This indicator is always shown in roman numerals. There were
twelve plates, there are no stamps from plate VI (6) as it was destroyed before printing began (no doubt it was flawed).
For example stamp 4RIL would have come from plate one (1).

The last or fourth indicator is either the letter E or L. The letter 'E' indicate an early state of the plate,
the letter 'L' indicates the late state of the plate.

How many plates were there?

There were nine plates of the 3¢ imperforate Washington made. Plates 0 and 1 through 8. Plate 0 was so called
because the plate was not marked with a plate number. Plate 1 had three states, early, intermediate and late.
Plates 2 and 5 had two states, early and late.

Color Varieties

The value of the stamp varies according to its color, Plum being the rarest color. For a guide see below.

Rescources available
Dr Carroll Chase, The 3¢ Stamp of the United States 1851-1857.
The U.S. 1851-1857 3 Cent Imperforate Stamp


Identifying Scott #10 and #10A (Orange Brown)

The U.S. 1851 3-cent orange brown George Washington stamp (Scott #10, 10A) probably is the most frequently
misidentified 19th-Century U.S. stamp. The problem of #11 and #11A (catalog value: $15.00) being advertised
as #10 or #10A (catalog value: $200, $150, respectively) seems to be chronic on number of auction sites.
Every week at least one, and often more than five #11’s are advertised as #10’s. Some sellers of #11’s identified
as #10’s are fraudulent, while others are overly optimistic. It is difficult to know which is worse, because in each
case, a hopeful collector is filling an album space with a stamp that doesn’t belong there, and once the
expensive mistake is discovered, the hobby experience may be tainted permanently.

The images and annotations below should be of some help in learning to identify #10’s. However, plating is the surest
method of positive identification, since all stamps printed from plates; 1e, 1i, 2e, 5e, and 0 are defined as #10’s,
and all stamps printed from plates 1L, 2L, 3, 4, 5L, 6, 7, and 8 are defined as #11’s.

Identifying #10 and #11

US stamps 11

US stamp 11 worn plate


The ink used to print #10’s was a high-quality formula of approximately 80 percent Venetian red (ferric oxide/rust)
and 20 percent vermilion (red mercuric sulfide). The ingredients not only gave the ink its distinctive orange brown
color, but it also helped produce a superior impression, and its susceptibility to discoloration is very minimal (rust
is the result of being exposed to the elements, and it is not susceptible to significant further discoloration). This
first ink formula was discarded after about four months in favor of the brownish carmine shade. The reason for conversion
to a new ink formula remains the subject of speculation. The iron oxide/vermilion mix certainly was more expensive, but
rapid plate wear caused by the mercuric sulfide may have been an additional factor. Plate wear on this design began to
show in the finest lines first. Some #10’s printed from plates 1e and 1i do show significant wear. Severe plate wear on
this issue is most evident on examples from plate 1L printed in the late-1854 to early-1855 period.

In the image at left, the #10 shown at top left is an example of a high-quality early impression, while the #11 shown at
top right was printed from a severely worn plate, with poor-quality ink. Note the lack of detail in Washington’s head,
and the lack of sharpness in the rosettes and especially the tessellated (cross-hatch) work in the #11 impression. The #11
at right was advertised on the Internet as a #10.


  The color and texture of the ink are key factors in #10 identification. Except for some rare anomalies, the color of #10’s
fall into a narrow range of an orange/brown mix. Although this is stating the obvious, many sellers advertise stamps
missing orange, brown, or both colors as #10’s simply because their color looks unusual, or deeper, than most 1851-57 3-cent
imperforate stamps they’ve seen. The texture of the ink almost always appears thick and rich compared to #11’s similar
in color. The #11 at right in the above comparison is of the orange red shade, commonly mistaken for orange brown, but
the color looks pale and watered down compared to the #10.

US stamps 11
The image at left shows an orange brown #10
overlaid on a sulfuretted (browned) #11.


Stamps are commonly advertised as #10’s because of their dark appearance. Sulfuretted stamps are stamps printed with
higher concentrations of ferric oxide in the ink formula that have been discolored by exposure to sulfur dioxides
(commonly found in air pollutants). Sulfur dioxide (sulfide) exposure converts ferric oxide (found
in Venetian red-based pigments) to ferric sulfate (dark brown).

US stamps 11

Close examination of the sulfuretted #11 in the high-resolution image above reveals tiny specks of original reddish ink color
in the low-relief areas in comparison to the blackened higher-relief areas of the inking. The ink used in #10 printings was
not susceptible to significant discoloration from exposure to sulfides, although many #11 inks were.

US stamps 11
A June date cancel, year dates were rarely shown on date cancels at this time


Cancellations can be used in limited cases to help confirm or rule out a stamp as a #10. In the 1850s letters generally
were carried by the sender to the post office for mailing, and only the stamps needed for that day’s mailing were
purchased, and the stamps were immediately affixed to the letters brought for mailing. Stamps used more than a few months
after distribution to the post office were the exception. The earliest known use of Scott #10 was July 1, 1851.
Approximately 98 percent of #10’s were used by the end of May 1852, so examples dated with a June date stamp are almost certainly #11.
There are only a few confirmed contemporary usages of #10s after 1852 (2/10/53, 6/26/54, and one in 1858).
US stamps 11
#10 with a Philadelphia date stamp

US stamps 11
#11 with a Philadelphia date stamp

Philadelphia cancels also can be used as dating aids, since Philadelphia abruptly converted from blue to black
ink for their cancellation hand stamps on about January 1, 1854. The #11 above, although strong in orange pigment and
lacking good plating marks, could not be a #10 because of the black Philadelphia April cancel (and worn-plate impression).


Although it is not addressed in the comparative images above, plating a stamp using the Smithsonian photographic
prints provided by Carroll Chase is the surest way to confirm its identity as a #10. However, a basic knowledge of
the characteristics of each plate will allow the educated philatelist to spot misidentified #10s, even in
medium-resolution images, without plating them.


Plate proofs (Scott #41P3) of the 1875 reprints (Scott #41) of the 1851-57 3-cent issue were made, primarily in
the scarlet shade. An example is shown at left. A 41P3 was sold as a #10 on eBay in September 2006.


  Design type is not a factor in differentiating #10s from #11’s. All 1851 to 1857 3-cent imperforate stamps
have an outer frame line on all four sides. Design type 1 (no inner frame lines) can be either Scott #10 or
#11. Design type 2 (with inner frame lines) can be either Scott #10A or #11A. I only feel the need to mention
this because some of the least educated sellers of stamps on eBay believe all 3-cent stamps from this series
with an outer frame line on all four sides are #10 or #10A.

Distinguishing a #10 Plate 1e from a Plate 1i

The differences in plate 1 early versus plate 1 intermediate were caused by the reentry (and not recutting
the frame lines (FL’s) or inner lines after the reentry). Early state stamps have clean-cut FL’s
and inner lines, where present (refer to Plate 3). Intermediate state stamp FL’s normally have some slight
doubling, as well as weak places (refer to Plate 2 late).

Color is another indication. The “Early” state tends to have the pale and yellowish shades. The “Intermediate”
state tend to have the “with more red” shades.

It’s difficult to use the Chase photos to determine state, as many stamps have a lot of plate wear
(which occurs on both states), and the photographs did not pick up the detail well. And Chase probably
has a few assigned to the wrong state.


The Inspiration for the Design

The design was based off Jean-Antoine Houdon's bust

George Washington
Jean-Antoine Houdon (1741-1828)
Marble, 25" high
Mount Vernon, Virginia


Houdin - George Washington Scotts - US Postage Stamps

This painting shows the studio of French sculptor
Jean-Antoine Houdon with Houdon working on a bust.


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.

Varieties to look for


Identification of these stamps is aided by the fact that this issue was recut extensively,
with all of the possible 1800 position being recut at least twice.

There are some recutting errors to look for
1) A frame line extending beyond the corner or not reaching the corner

2) A crooked frame line

3) A split frame line

4) The label block and either one of the adjacent decorative diamond blocks joined

5) Inner line running up and down too far

Spotting these is fairly easy and it makes collecting a mundane stamp much more interesting.

Green town cancels command a nice premium, aprroximely £300

10 bisect - Scotts - US Postage Stamps
The stamp was very rarely bisected, only about a dozen examples
exist. The bisects range from the stamp being cut by a third (to represent 1¢)
to a being cut in half (in those days there was a half cent coin to pay for this!).

The Essay's and Proofs

The process of making these plates is said to have been ;

First to mark out on a soft plate of steel the points at which the right vertical line of each
row of stamps was to come, by a dot at the top and bottom of the plate. These dots were sometimes too
large and too heavily put in, and may be found in some specimens at or near, the upper or lower right
hand corner of the stamp.

The lines however were not always accurately drawn so that the dot appears (on the top or bottom line,
at a distance to the left of the corner, or, above the line, or below the line, or entirely outside
of the stamp to the right. These lines having been drawn, the next step in the process was to put in
the body of the design, which had been engraved on a soft steel punch or die, and then hardened, by
placing the die successively in the position to be occupied by each stamp on the plate, and "
rocking" it back and forth under pressure.

As this process was not as perfect as that now employed, the die was not always placed in exactly
the proper position, not infrequently being too near or too far from the vertical side lines, or
the die was not rocked far enough, and the edges were left imperfect. In the design, it was evidently
intended that the outside lines should be equally distant from the top and bottom labels, and the
side edges of the block, and that the corners should be exactly mitered.

The top and bottom lines are practically always at the same distance from the labels, and one engraver
maintains that they were engraved on the die. But specimens are plentiful in which the top and bottom
line projects beyond the side line, or does not touch it, or rarely is double or split, or again the
side line projects beyond the top or bottom line, or does not touch it.

Again, instead of the side line being at the proper distance from the corner blocks, it is not infrequently
too far from one or more of them, or too near one or more of them, or touches one or more of them. Again,
the side line is found connecting with the next stamp above or below, and occasianally there is a second
line near this between two stamps.

In the die itself it will be noticed that the lower left block is almost always a little further to the left
than the top one, in fact, that the distance from the right of the right block to the left of the left block
is about 1/4 of a mm. greater at the bottom than at the top of the stamp.

The lower right rosette is a little too far also to the right, ordinarily at least.

The blocks vary in size in the same and different stamps, as well as the diamonds in them, which are not
of uniform shape or size. The labels above and below are crowded upon the rosettes. The sides of the
groundwork should terminate in a straight line, formed by the bases of the little colored triangles,
which touch each other. But this line is often broken in appearance as parts of it are too finely cut,
or the die was not rocked far enough. In some cases this seems to have been remedied by re-engraving this line.

1851 3c essay - Scotts - US Postage Stamps

The essays for this stamp are indeed numerous.
To view the essays click here

franklin vignette
Vignette of George Washington
Imperf essay on laid india paper

Color Identification


Bright Rose Red
Printed from Plates: 1L, 2L, and 3
Mar 1853 - Jan 1855
Rose Red
Printed from Plates: 1L, 2L, and 3
Mar 1853 - Jan 1855
Dull Red (#11)
Printed from Plates: 1L, 2L, and 3
Oct 1852 - Dec 1853
Yellow Rose-Red
Printed from Plates: 4, 5L, 6, 7, and 8
Nov 1855 - Jan 1856

Brownish Carmine
Printed from Plates: 1L, 2L, and 3 (1851 - 1852), 2L, 3, 4, 5L, 6, 7, 8 (1856 - 1857)
Nov 1851 - Nov 1852, Jul 1856 - Dec 1856, and  Jul 1857 - Dec 1857
Brownish Claret
Brown Brownish Orange Brown
10 Yellow Brown Scotts - US Postage Stamps
Copper Brown Yellow Brown
Printed from Plates:  1L, 2L, and 3 ( 1852), 2L, 3, 4, 5L, 6, 7, 8 (1856 - 1857)

Printed from Plates: 1L, 2L, and 3 (1851 - 1852), 2L, 3, 4, 5L, 6, 7, 8 (1856 - 1857)
Nov 1851 - Dec 1852 and Oct 1856 - Jun 1857
Deep Claret
Printed from Plates: 2L, 3, 4, 5L, 6, 7, and 8
Purplish Claret
Printed from Plates: 2L, 3, 4, 5L, 6, 7, and 8

Pinkish Deep Pink

Plum (scarce)
Printed from Plates: 2L, 3, and 4

Orange Brown
Orange Brown
Printed from Plates: 0, 1e, 1i, 2e, and 5e
Jul - Dec 1851
Experimental Orange Brown
Printed from Plate: 1L
Oct - Nov 1851

Dr. W. F. Amonette's Color Study

Dr. W. F. Amonette's Color Study

Dr. W. F. Amonette's Color Study

Dr. W. F. Amonette's Color Study

Dr. W. F. Amonette's Color Study


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