See below for details
Detail shown below
The grill seen on the reverse of some stamps
Partial grills will always be considered to be H grills.
If your stamp has the a grill on the reverse you have quickly identified the stamp. It is the first printing of this stamp from the National Bank Note company and is #134
There are two types of grills, the H grill and the I grill, the H Grill is #134 and the I grill is #134a.
Above is a ROUGH color guide. I see rough because fading and sunlight can cause a change in color over time. However generally these are the colors too look for when identifying the stamp.
#206 is a re-engraved stamp and can be identified by the additional shading in the area above the letter U.S. Also the curly ornament at top left of the stamp is shaded on the reegraved stamp.
Hard paper was used by the National Bank Note Company and the Continental Bank Note Company. Soft paper was used by the American Bank Note Company.
The hard paper of the Bank Note issues is fairly white, perhaps it might better be called grayish white or sometimes a somewhat bluish white, while the soft paper seems slightly yellowish when compared with the hard paper.
Soft paper has a looser weave and more porous paper than hard paper, so it feels softer, displays a mesh or weave when viewed by holding the stamp between your eyes and light so that you are looking “through” the stamp.
Some people can also ID hard paper be “flicking” the edges and thereby “feeling” the stiffness of the paper versus the feel of soft paper if flicked in the same way. There's more of a snap to the hard paper.
On high magnification the perforation tips on soft paper will have more strands of paper sticking out than hard paper.
Soft paper is fairly dead looking under a long wave UV light ( (briefly and from a reasonable distance in a darkened room) while hard paper reflects more light. If reference copies of stamp designs known only on hard paper or soft paper are viewed under UV light, the difference in paper brightness should be apparent.
For a reference stamp obtain the inexpensive 1861 3¢ (#65), it is only available in hard paper.
A simple test is to hold a stamp to a lamp, you will see the hard paper is more translucent.
THE SECRET MARK
Look at the ball to the left of the number one. The secret mark is a dash of color within the ball. Please refer to the image above.