Blue, pale blue and dark blue
Printing Method: Die-to-relief-to-plate transfer process
Plate: 2, 4 and 12
Printer: Toppan, Carpenter & Co.
(Plate 12 whilst part of the American Bank Note Company)
Subject: Benjamin Franklin
Number issued: unknown
Perforations: 15 to 15½
Scott #: 21
Issued: July 25th, 1857
$90 - $150
No postmark with gum (MH)
$125 - $300
Full perfect gum, no postmark
no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH)
$1,900 - $2,000
The vignette was based on Giuseppe Ceracchi's 1791 bust of Benjamin Franklin
A contemporary banknote printed by Toppan, Carpenter with the same vignette as #21
Plates 1, 2 and 4 imprint
Plate 12 imprint, plate 11 is similar
Along the side margin of the sheet can be found the Printers imprint along with the plate number.
A full pane of 100 of the perforated 1857 1¢ Franklin, there are two panes to a sheet of 200
Position 99R II
The position with the largest break, hence the most sought after
Most examples (such as this one from plate 4) have a large break in the top and a small break in the bottom line.
#21 is a Type III design. The design on the sides are complete and the line at the top and the bottom is broken. This is different than Type IIIA where either the top and bottom line is broken, but not both.
The degree or amount of the break in the line(s) is important. The greater the break the more desirable the stamp.
The perforating machine used on the 1857 issue
The idea behind perforating the stamps was to make the stamps easier to separate and apparently to make the stamps adhere better, although I am not sure about the thinking behind that one.
A rouletting machine was purchased from the UK. The only perforating machines were made in the UK and the British Printers, Perkins Bacon, did not want to let one go abroad. A typical British attitude at the time. So the Bureau purchased the rouletting machine. They tried it out and the result was not what they were looking for. To convert the rouletting machine to a perforating machine was as simple as swapping out the rouletting roller with a perforating roller (which had to be designed and produced). Takes less than a minute.
There was one slight problem space allowance to feed the sheets of stamps was kind of narrow. This was solved by squeezing the row of stamps into the narrower space. Something that philatelists who prize four margin stamps will forever regret.
The sheet of stamps was fed in one way to get the vertical perforations, the spacing on the perforator roll was changed and then the sheet was fed through horizontally.
A contemporary forgery of the 1¢ Franklin
A RARE COMBINATION BLOCK OF FOUR FROM PLATE FOUR, CONTAINING THREE EXAMPLES OF TYPE III AND ONE EXAMPLE OF TYPE IIIa. THIS IS ONE OF THE RAREST COMBINATION BLOCKS OF THE 1857 ONE-CENT ISSUE
Sold June 2011 for $20,650
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