Triangles in Corner
Subject: George Washington
Number issued: 96,000,000
Scott #: 249
Issued: October 5th, 1894
Earliest recorded example: October 11th, 1894
No postmark with gum (MH)
$12 - $30
Full perfect gum, no postmark
no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH)
$40 - $50
As this was the Bureau of Printing and Engraving contract a small triangle was cut into the design at top left and top right in order to distinguish this printing from the earlier 1890 series
#249 was issued with the following plate #'s
1, 3-5, 7-13, 16, 19, 20, 22-23, 25-26, 30, 32, 78-80, 82, 88-89, 96-97, 110-111, 114
We are fortunate that in the early 1890's, the Bureau photographed the process of printing a stamp. The 1890 series was the last contract for the American Banknote company, thereafter the Bureau of Engraving and Printing printed stamps. The building these photographs were taken was replaced by a new building in 1918.
To make the printing ink, the base color was mixed with oil then the mixture was ground under heavy steel rollers. The machinery was belt driven by steam. Inks then was tested to see if it was the correct color. Some of the inks contained quite a few impurities which wore down the printing plates. Black was the least impure ink, blues and greens the most impure inks.
Down in the basement with the window open for ventilation this poor guy mixed ingredients to make the water soluble gum. Gumming took place after printing and before perforation, usually because the paper had to be damp for printing to work well. The production of gum was in fact an art. The gum could not be too acidic as it would destroy the paper over time. It has to be the right viscosity for application. The gum should also be stable, not yellow or crack.
This is a photo of workers in the postage stamp gumming and drying room in the Stamp Division at the Bureau of Engraving & Printing. Again power is supplied by steam driven belts.
A photo workers taking mucilaged (applying water soluble glue) sheets of postage stamps from the drying box in the gumming and drying room
A photo of women at work in the Bureau in 1890. If anyone can tell me function they are performing please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The dirty job of working in the Bureau's laundry was assigned to African Americans,
Wetting the paper prior to printing in the Bureau
Women perforating printed sheets of stamps. The odd hats are to prevent the dust created by perforating from getting in their hair.