#286 Scotts - US Postage Stamps

Farming in the West
2¢ - Copper red, brown red or light brown red
Scott #286 - 1898


Used: $0.50
No postmark with gum (MH): $2-$9
Full perfect gum, no postmark, no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH): $9-$24


Introduced on June 17th, 1890. Earliest documented use,
a first day cover from June 17th 1898 (an example shown below)

#286 First Day Cover Scotts - US Postage Stamps

Plate Size:
Sheets of 100 subjects (2 panes of 50)

#286 pane

A full pane of #286

The Bureau of Printing and Engraving

Double lined USPS watermark.

Quantity Issued:
160,000,000, a very common stamp

What you should look for

Plate numbers 672-3, 675 and 679 are particularly worn, so much
so that distinguishing the front men from the rear men becomes difficult.
These are interesting examples but do not add to the value of the stamp.

286 worn plate Scotts - US Postage Stamps
#286 Worn Plate Example

The Inspiration for the Design

286 design - US Postage Stamps - Farming in the West - Western Farming

The original photograph

286 Western Farming - North Dakota Farming - Scotts - US Postage Stamps

The original photograph in greater detail

The source for this design has one of the most interesting stories in US Philately.

The design was intended for use on the $2 Trans-Missippippi, however as this scene was so
representative of the West at the time it was decided to use this on the wider circulation of the 2¢.

The photograph from which the design was made was taken a few miles from the town
of Amenia, North Dakota. The men depicted in the photograph are the first living
men to be shown on a postage stamp.

286 Amenia
Amenia, North Dakota today, still a windswept town.

It was taken in 1893 on the Amenia & Sharon Land Company's Fargo, North Dakota 'bonanza farm'.
A line of plows drawn by mule teams going into the distance, are apparently plowing a
stubble field. In the foreground, Ed Nybakken is seated on a two-bottom plow drawn by
four mules. His hand is in the air, touching the brim of his hat, and blocking his face.
Behind him seated in a two-wheel buggy with a dog beside him, is field boss Elihu Barber.
Behind Barber is foreman Sam White. He is standing in a buggy hitched to two horses, and
is looking away from the camera. Ed for years bemoaned the puff of the wind that hid his
face from the camera, on the other hand the firm, very proud of the stamp, purchased thousands
and used them on their mail well into the 20th century.

UPDATE (2019)
A second man has been identified in the stamp, click here to read the story (PDF).
Many thanks to Steve DeLance for his research on this.

The team photographed included 61 horses and their drivers,
many farmers, on seeing this stamp, were incredulous as to the amount of equipment,
however this was the practice of the bonanza farms of North Dakota.

It was hoped that the stamp would attract the business of agriculture to the west.

286 North Dakota Farming - 1899
The Amenia & Sharon Farming Company, an early photograph.

The Essay's and Proofs

286-E5 Scotts - US Postage Stamps

#286 E5
The original bi-color design.

The bi-color design had to be dropped as the bi-color printing process
was taxed to the max printing revenue stamps for the Spanish-American
war that had broken out. You will notice the vignette is the same as in
the $2 value (#293). This was swapped with the 2¢ design at the last
moment, as the 2¢ design would have the wider circulation and the
western farming issue would be more representative.

286-E6 Scotts - US Postage Stamps

The frame essay on card

286-e8 Large Die Essay - Scotts - US Postage Stamps

Large die essay on india
Die sunk on card

286-E8 Essay - Scotts - US Postage Stamps

Small die essay on india
Die sunk on card

286-E Die Essay - Scotts - US Postage Stamps

Die essay on india
Die sunk on card

286 P4 Proof US stamps

Plate Proof on Card Stock

286 Trial color proof

Trial Color Proof

Ariel photograph of the Trans-Mississippi Exhibition

Ariel view of the Trans-Mississippi Exibition - Omaha NB.