Blue, pale blue, dark blue
Printing Method: Die-to-relief-to-plate transfer process
Printer: Toppan, Carpenter, Casilier & Co.
Subject: Benjamin Franklin
Number issued: 30,000
Scott #: 5
Issued: July 1st, 1851
Only 98 used and two unused examples exist
$90,000 - $120,000
No postmark with gum (MH)
Full perfect gum, no postmark
no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH)
No sales recorded
The vignette was based on Giuseppe Ceracchi's 1791 bust of Benjamin Franklin
Along the side margin of the sheet can be found the Printers imprint along with the plate number
A 1875 reprint (#40) with its perforations trimmed off in an attempt to look like #5. The clue to this forgery is that #40 was only issued in a bright blue color, a lot different than the blues of #5.
#5 is a Type I design. The design on a Type I is complete, meaning that the ornaments at the top and bottom of the frame have not trimmed by the engravers at the time. All other types of the Franklin 1¢ have a portion of the design trimmed away. Type I is also distinguishable in that it has double transfer as shown by the doubling of the protrusion at the top of the frame design.
Only one plate position produced the Type I stamp, that being position 7RIE, a number known to most serious US philatelists.
Notes on #5
1) it is a unique position (only one of the two hundred positions produced this)
2) Unlike its cousin, the perforated 1851 1¢ Franklin, it does not have a dot in the white border surrounding the medallion on the left hand side
3) It was forged a lot, mainly by taking the 1875 reprint and adding lines to duplicate the double transfer. The 1875 also has the secret dot on the left, which does not exist on #5.
4) A certificate is a must, never buy without one.
5) It is the rarest US stamp issued prior to the grills of 1867.
6) Seigel Auction Galleries printed in 1960 the Jerome Wagshall Survey of this issue, at the time of printing there were 90 recorded examples, since that time two other have been discovered.
Why is there only one position with a complete design?
The design of this early issue was too large to allow for the accommodation of the 200 subjects onto one plate. Therefore, each position had to have some amount of the design erased to allow enough room. These erasures accounted for the majority of the types. One position, however, was not subject to any erasure whatsoever, that position being the 7R1E.
What exactly does position 7RIE mean?
It means the 7th stamp of the right pane of plate I in the early state. Plate one had two states, early and late. Plate one in its original or early state became worn with use, the designs on the plate were then recut (after only 11 months use) and thus the plate became the late state. Plate one remained in service until 1857.
7 = Seventh stamp of the 100 on the pane
R = Right Plane
I = Plate I
E= Early State
How many plates were there?
There were twelve plates of the 1¢ Franklin made, plate six was never used, probably due to it being damaged in it's creation. Most of the plates were used for both the imperforate and perforated design. Some only produced one type or the other. For instance, plate 12 produced only perforated stamps and the early state of Plate 1 produced only imperforate stamps whilst plate I late (reconstruction) produced both imperforate and perforated stamps. Plate 4 was the last of the imperforate plates to be used.
A unique strip of the 3 with #5 in the middle, flanked by #5A on each side
Chart supplied by courtesy of Chris Biason