3¢Dull red, plum
TYPE II (see below)
Printing Method: Die-to-relief-to-plate transfer process
Plates: plates 1 thru 8 + plate 0
Printer: Toppan, Carpenter, Casilier & Co.
Subject: George Washington
Number issued: 140,000,000 (11 and 11A)
Scott #: 11A
Issued: July 1st, 1855
$2 - $10
No postmark with gum (MH)
$150 - $700 (four margins)
Full perfect gum, no postmark
no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH)
$1,800 - $5,250
Along the side margin of the sheet can be found the Printers imprint along with the plate number
Three postmarks that enhance the value of the stamp
A 12 block OF #11A on cover to Hong Kong, PRC
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 foreign 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.
Propaganda coves are very collectable. This is a very early, and attractive example, and as such commands a high price premium. The hay day of propaganda covers was to come in the next deface doing the American Civil War
A pane of 100 of the 1851 3¢ Imperf
All illustrated covers are collectable, particularly when this early.
There are several shades of each color. However #10 is a definitely orange-brown in appearance. #11 can be several shades of red, all the way from pinkish to claret. Above I have shown the two most common shades, dull red and brownish carmine and additionally the often seen shade of plum for #11A
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 image above shows an orange brown #10 overlaid on a sulfuretted (browned) #11.
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.
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.
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 (ferric oxide/rust)-based pigments) to ferric sulfate (dark brown).
A June cancel confirming the stamp is NOT a #10, but the less valuable #11
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,. The stamps were immediately affixed to the letters brought in 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 any 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).
#10 with a BLUE Philadelphia date stamp
#11 with a BLACK 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).