Blue, pale blue, dark blue
Printing Method: Die-to-relief-to-plate transfer process
Plate: I early
Printer: Toppan, Carpenter, Casilier & Co.
Subject: Benjamin Franklin
Number issued: 30,000
Scott #: 5A
Issued: July 1st, 1851
$3,400 - $8,500
No postmark with gum (MH)
$1,900 - $35,000
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
The six positions of #5A can be differentiated by the amount the bottom ornaments are trimmed
Position 5IRE (#5A)
The design on the top and sides of Type Ib are complete. However the design at the bottom is not complete, some of the bottom ornaments have been burnished off, see the illustration above.
Type 1b can be found on six plate positions:
#6RIE and #8RIE - the bottom ornaments have been burnished slightly
#3RIE, #4RIE, #5RIe and #9R1E - where the bottom ornaments have been burnished back a little more, see illustrations below.
How to read plate positions?
The first indicator is a number indicates its position on the plate, so 3RIE would have come from the third stamp on the plate. The number can range from 1 to 100, there being 100 stamps on each plate.
The second indicator is either the letter R or L, R indicates the stamp came from the right pane, L for the left pane. The stamp was printed in sheets of 200, each sheet was further divided into two panes of 100. Hence 3RIE would have come from the right pane as the second indicator in 3R1E is the letter R.
The third indicator can be from numbers I (1) to XII (12). This indicator is always shown in roman numerals. There were twelve plates, there are no stamps from plate VI (6) as it was destroyed before printing began (no doubt it was flawed). For example stamp 4RIL would have come from plate one (1).
The last or fourth indicator is either the letter E or L. The letter 'E' indicate an early state of the plate, the letter 'L' indicates the late state of the plate. This indicator only applies to PLATE I, as it is the only one that has an early and late plate. The early plate is the original plate. After 11 months the plate became worn and 199 of the 200 positions were recut. 113 positions on the plate had both top and bottom lines recut, 40 positions had only the top line recut, 8 positions had only the bottom line recut, 11 positions had a double recut at the bottom and 4 positions had a double recut at the to
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 strip of three showing plate positions 6IRE (#5A), 7IRE (#5) and 8RIE (#5A)
Chart supplied by courtesy of Chris Biason