1¢ - Greyish green, dark greyish green, dull bluish green, bluish green, yellowish green, bright yellowish green, deep yellowish green
Printing Method: ROTARY PRESS
Subject: Benjamin Franklin
Number issued: 17,000,000,000
Scott #: 581
Issued: October 17th, 1923
No postmark with gum (MH)
75¢ - $1
Full perfect gum, no postmark
no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH)
$1 - $3
A sheet of 100 stamps
#581 was issued with the following plate #'s
Type A Marginal guides:
14348-49, 70-71, 82-83, 94-95
19624-25, 30-31, 42-43, 51-53, 62-63
Type B Marginal guides:
15950-51, 57-58, 77-78
Type A marginal markings
There are a series of horizontal guide lines in the vertical gutter between the right and left panes, these were intended as perforation guides and were divided in units of 20 from the top of the full sheet to the bottom.
Type B marginal markings
There are cutting guides at the extreme ends of the horizontal and vertical gutters. In the center of the plate was a quarter inch cross which matched exactly with the three-sixteenth inch lines placed near the outside edges of the sheets. These were used as guides in cutting the full sheets into 100 subject panes.
In 1923 the Bureau chose the 1¢ value to continue its experiments with the use of the rotary press to produce sheet stamps, an experiment it had begun earlier with the Washington-Franklin issues. The first plates of the 1¢ went to press on April 2nd, 1923 and were distributed to post offices without official notice, probably in late April. The first examples to show up were precancelled New York stamps, leading to the erroneous assumption that the first distribution consisted entirely of these New York precancels. It was subsequently learned that precancels were not ordered until May 31st, and not delivered until June 6th. Therefore, unprecancelled stamps were available prior to that June 6th date, and probably afterward, but only one such cover is recorded.
Once the variety in precancelled form became known to the collecting public, a drive was mounted, led by Philip Ward, to have the Philatelic Agency release the stamps unprecancelled. The agency complied on October 17th but despite collector interest only one Agency First Day Cover has been found — the one shown above.