Molokai's Stamp Report #1

Discussion in 'United States Stamps' started by Molokai, Apr 19, 2018.

  1. Molokai

    Molokai Moderator Moderator

    U.S. Newspaper & Periodical Stamps – The Designs of 1865

    As some of you know, I’ve been focused on the United States N & P stamps for about a year now. They are an interesting group! George Sloane proffered that they were even more complex than the famous Washington-Franklin definitive series of 1908-1922. They are quite large stamps – the 1865 issues are just shy of 2” x 4” and only exceeded in size by the famous Persian Rug revenues. The N & Ps, by-the-way, should not be confused as revenue stamps; they were used for bulk mailing of newspapers and periodicals.

    Since college, when studying a new subject I have found it useful to compile a ‘report’ just for myself, sorting out the information, key facts, putting them in some semblance of order. Herein is my report on the Newspaper & Periodicals, designs of 1865.

    To that end, I’ve bought and/or read everything I can find on them. I posted a bibliography elsewhere on StampExchange along with an overview of these fascinating stamps. I am still missing several auction catalogs – though for the Siegel auctions I was able to print out the appropriate pages from their very excellent website. I am also seeking a book I would very much like to own – The United States Newspaper and Periodical Stamps – A Compilation of Articles by Whitesell.

    As there were no covers for these stamps in the traditional sense, quite a bit of information regards usage and such is MIA. The stamps were affixed to typically large parcels, resulting in limited numbers of used stamps as they would have been destroyed when the parcel was unwrapped.

    There were three primary issues of the N & Ps: 1865, 1875 and 1895 along with several special printings and specimens along the way. A minefield of fakes, forgeries and facsimiles awaits the collector, also.

    The 1865 designs are of three denominations: 5c (Washington), 10c (Franklin) and 25c (Lincoln). I say designs because there were additional printings in 1867, 1875, 1880 and 1884. These stamps were available to the public. They were perforated ‘12’ and ungummed. However, a ‘gum experiment’ may have occurred as several collectors report gummed issues with a similar gum.

    The first series, PR1 (5c), PR2 (10c), PR3 (25c) and PR4 (5c) were printed by the National Banknote Company and are on what is described as hard white ungummed paper. The 10c and 25c are known on pelure paper; quite interesting if you have never seen or handled it. The colors of these stamps in particular (5c Blue, 10c Green, 25c Red) and the N & Ps generally are among the most attractive of all United States postage stamps.

    The sole difference between PR1 and PR4 is that the heavy colored border of PR1 was eliminated leaving a think white border. These stamps are very rare used and extremely rare on-paper. The most famous of the latter shows the imprint of the newspaper to which it was pasted on the back of the stamp. Cancelling was by hand, usually a brush stroke or blotter. Postmarks are ‘almost’ always fake according to the literature but difficult to fully confirm as, again, there are no covers per se.

    Very little work has been conducted on plate varieties or flyspecking these stamps. Plating them would be a great challenge for someone able to procure enough copies and blocks! The exception is the collection of Edward Young who dug deep into the 5c 1865 N & P stamp.

    Doc M Pepper, one of the gurus of N & P stamps has conducted a census for used examples of PR1-4. He also wrote the most current books on them – The Regulars, The Proofs, The forgeries and The Facsimiles - although to me the line between forgeries and facsimiles is quite thin. These are available from him for $15 each – a great bargain considering the work which went into them and the full color images. Another N & P guru is J. Frank Braceland who wrote the seminal series of articles for the United States Specialist, 1966-1974; 26 parts in all. Later research has shown a few errors in Mr. Braceland’s work. But as we all know, the pioneers are the ones with the arrows in their backs. William Mooz has written a number of articles on N & P stamps in the American Philatelist and Classics Chronicle.

    The 1865 issues were decommissioned and no longer used on 1 Feb 1869. Until the designs of 1874, the Post Office reverted to a cash-and-carry approach. No one seems to know why, exactly, the first issues were discontinued. We do know they were primarily used in Milwaukee and Chicago and this seems reflected in the similarity of cancellations on the known used issues of PR1-4. Their purpose was to eliminate attempts by some publishers to avoid postage by delivering papers via railroad or steamship route agents.

    On 1 January 1867 the third-assistant postmaster ordered 1000 copies each of the 1865 designs overprinted with ‘Specimen’ on each of them. There is a rare printing error on the 5c Washington with ‘Specimen’ printed in triplicate.

    In 1875, in anticipation of the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia the following year, the Post Office was requested to exhibit all United States stamps to date. As they apparently did not have examples of the original N & Ps, a reprint of them was authorized. Although these were termed ‘specimen postage stamps’ only the Officials we so overprinted. This may be because the stamps were already obsolete at the time.

    The Continental Banknote Company reprinted the three designs, PR5 (5c, white border), PR6 (10c) and PR7 (25c). These were printed on what is described as crisp white paper which is difficult to distinguish from the National paper. However, in conjunction with the shades of the colors it is possible to separate the Nationals from the Continentals –

    Continental 5c – ‘dull blue/purplish blue’

    Continental 10c – ‘deep green/ dark bluish green’

    Continental 25c – ‘dark carmine/dark carmine red’

    Of course, there are shades in both printings so differentiation can still be tricky, especially with the 5c stamp. Some 5c and 10c stamps are partially or fully printed on the reverse side. Needless to say, there are no used copies of these reprints.

    According to Braceland (1966) and Scott’s Specialized (2013), these reprints were made from the original plates. If Braceland and Scott’s are correct, it raises the interesting prospect of National placing ‘secret marks’ on the plates before handing them over to Continental as they did with the banknote plates.

    Unfortunately, this seems to be incorrect. According to Pepper (2015, The Regulars), quoting: “The June 30, 1875 Stamp Bill Book No.1 clearly shows the Post Office purchased the PR5-7s from the National Bank Note Company. Apparently the National Bank Note Company did not turn over the plates to the Continental Bank Note Company. Possibly thinking they would be required by contract to produce the PR5-7s, Continental made their own plates (why would Continental make new plates if they had the original plates?) Scott’s does mention that ‘Continental Bank Note Co. made another special printing from new plates which did not have the colored border.’ It appears Continental made one or two sheets (20 or 40 stamps) with their new plates.”

    In 1880 an order for a second printing of the 5c denomination was given to The American Banknote Company. This stamp is relatively easy to identify by either/or color or shade. The color is a quite attractive ‘dark blue with an ultramarine cast’ and the paper is soft porous paper. This stamp is listed as PR8 by Scotts. According to Mooz, yet another PR8 printing was done in 1884. These are rarer than the 1880 PR8s. These stamps lack the embossed look of the earlier issues.

    There is a lengthy discussion of the 1875-84 reprints of the 1865 designs by William Mooz in The Chronicle, November 1993 – but questions still remain, at least for me. Someone needs to dig deeper in the Post Office records, the literature and correspondence of the time. I suspect we have not heard the final word on either the reprints or the originals!

    Still with me? Good! As Ron Popeil would say, “But wait – there’s more!”

    There may be yet another reprint series not assigned numbers in Scotts. These were a special printing on new plates, sans the colored borders. These exist both perforated and imperforate but they were never regularly issued. The paper is hard and very white. The impressions are flat, lacking the embossed appearance of the other 1865 designs. The 5c can be distinguished by the outer line of color which is very uniform in width while the originals it is or irregular thickness. The colors are also different: The 5c stamp is black-blue, the 10c stamp is a dark gray-green and the 25c is rose-red.

    Fakes, Forgeries and Facsimiles

    There are so many of these and they are so varied they make a specialty all to themselves. I touch on them only briefly here. Mr. Braceland, in his first article of his excellent series (United States Specialist, September 1966) proffered the number of fakes, etc. in circulation was greater than the number of legitimate issues! To Wit: “In this writer’s opinion there are more counterfeits in existence than original stamps.”

    Many of these came from Germany and many of those are the so-called ‘Senf Forgeries.’ Fournier was also in the fake N & P stamp business. Mr. Mooz takes up this topic in American Philatelist, May 1984. It appears they mostly were simply printed to fulfil collectors’ desire for the stamps. In the 1900s stamp collectors were more interested in simply filling spaces and not-so-much whether they were the real-deal or not. However as some of these began to be used for postage, they were soon printed with a small ‘facsimile‘ or ‘falsch’ on each stamp, often in very small print.

    Some fakes are better than others! Note the backward 'N' in 'Company.' Perhaps a Russian faker? :)


    I will endeavor to update this report as I learn more about these stamps and perhaps add a supplement after digging deeper into the essays and proofs. I am happy to hear from others with additional insights and/or have errors or omissions noted. Keep in mind, the 1865s are simple to understand relative to the designs of 1875.

    Attached are images of PR1-PR8, a legitimately used example, the specimen error and the printed-both-sides error.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Apr 23, 2018
  2. anglobob

    anglobob Moderator Moderator

    Very interesting article.Even though I lived in Texas for almost 27 years ,I never got involved in collecting US stamps.Are these stamps difficult to acquire ?
    You mention the name Fournier.....I have seen many of his French forgeries on sale -often for very high prices !!

  3. Molokai

    Molokai Moderator Moderator

    There is a pretty brisk market on them on eBay I've noticed. Some of them are pricey but the good news is all but the top-end stamps can be had at around 20%-25% of Scott. Yes, Fournier was a very active fellow! :joyful:
Draft saved Draft deleted
Similar Threads: Molokai's Stamp
Forum Title Date
United States Stamps Early U. S Revenue Documents/ Stamps Dec 13, 2020
United States Stamps Rewriting Stamp History Oct 21, 2020
United States Stamps USA stamp for sell and exchange Apr 9, 2020
United States Stamps Washington red 2c stamp Feb 24, 2020
United States Stamps Famous stamp researchers covers Award winners! Feb 18, 2020

Share This Page