(John) Frémont on Rocky Mountains
5¢ Dull blue or bright blue
Scott #288 - 1898

Used: $1-$10
No postmark with gum (MH): $20-$50
Full perfect gum, no postmark, no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH): $70-$200


Introduced on June 17th, 1890. Earliest documented use,
a first day cover from June 17th 1898

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

288 Full Pane - Scotts - US Postage Stamps
A full pane of #288

The Bureau of Printing and Engraving

Double lined USPS watermark.

Quantity Issued:
7,694,180 (however a large amount were recalled).
It is quite common being used for the first class rate to Europe.

What you should look for


The registered rate for mail at the time was 5¢, and as a result
a good number of these stamps have the registered cancel on them, a
typical example is shown below. This does not detract from the value,
unless, of course, the strike of the cancel is heavy, which they often can be.

288 Registered Cancel - Scotts - US Postage Stamps
A typical registered cancel of the time

The Inspiration for the Design

The Dept. of Bureau and Engraving were determined to depict Frémont in
the Rocky Mountains on one of the Trans-Mississippi stamps, nobody knows why. Of
course John Frémont was delighted at the prospect and sent the department
a bunch of photos of himself. These were politely declined. The engravers had to
resort to the only three renditions of Frémont in the Rocky Mountains. The
first was a John Frémont campaign poster and the next from a biography and the
other was from a Scholastic Text Book

The Frémont Campaign Poster of 1856
(one of the three sources of the design)

John Fremont Planting the Flag - Scotts - US Postage Stamps

An engraving from the biography
'The Young American's Life of Frémont' by F.C. Woodworth
(one of the three sources of the design)

Fremont with Flag

John Bigelow's woodcut in Scholastic's 'Memoir of the Life and Public Services
of John Charles Frémont, the third source for the design.

The campaign poster (above) shows a bearded trapper and a Mexican waving at
the Colonel. On the stamp design this was changed to a soldier and a frontiersman.
The original can be found in the Library of Congress. The idea for the background
mountains came from the Bigelow woodcut, also shown above, you will see that
the stamp design shows the position of the flag and Frémont reversed. The
for the top of the mountain mimics the illustration from the biography (middle picture above).


The Essay's and Proofs

This design was originally planned for the 8¢ value,
then the 2¢ value, before deciding on the 5¢ value.

287-E3 United States Postage Stamps

#287 E2
Large Die Essay on India
Die sunk on card

286-E5 Scotts - US Postage Stamps

#288 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.

288 P1 Scotts - US Postage Stamps

#288 P1
Dull blue die proof pulled on india
paper and die sunk on card blotter

Ogala Lakota Scotts - US Postage Stamps

The most popular attraction of the exhibition turned out to be
the first Americans. Here you can see a picture of Ogala Lakota outside
a Tipi within the Exposition grounds. That the Lakota were offended by
photographs take of them was not a consideration, this was the
closest that most of the visitors got to a 'heathen' or 'savage'.