Black, intense black or gray black
Printing Method: Die-to-relief-to-plate transfer process
Plate: plate 1
Printer: Toppan, Carpenter, Casilier & Co.
Subject: George Washington
Number issued: 2,500,000
Scott #: 17
Issued: August 4th, 1851
$50 - $100 (four margins)
No postmark with gum (MH)
$1,200 - $2,000 (four margins)
Full perfect gum, no postmark
no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH)
No sales recorded
The 12¢ portrait of George Washington differs slightly from the 10¢ portrait as it was based off Durand's engraving (shown above) and not the original painting. The result was a more clearly defined portrait, this despite the fact that the 12¢ was designed after the 10¢. The 10¢ portrait is more faithful to the original, keeping more of the 'wood teeth' smile that Gilbert captured so well.
Along the side margin of the sheet can be found the Printers imprint along with the plate number. A plate 2 was probably created, but it was never used on the imperforate stamp. There was a plate 3, however this was only used for proofs.
#17a on a California cover
#17a, is the 12¢ bisected, commonly diagonally and rarely vertically. It only has value if on cover, tied to the cover by a post mark, sometimes it can have value on piece but those are best accompanied by a certificate.
The bisect is found mostly on covers originating from California to pay the 6¢ paid rate. These covers were often rejected by post offices in the east who considered these bisects illegal stamps and the 10¢ due added to the cover.
An interesting variety is the stamp printed on both sides. The above image shows an example of the back of one such stamp.
A perforated 1857 12¢ (#36) with perforations removed. A particularly dangerous forgery as the forger has used a #36 with a natural straight edge to add to the deception.
Blocks of #17 are scarce. Top stamps with diagonal crease and right stamps with vertical crease
Sold March 2023 for $4,000 (MH)
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