Scarce and rare altered USA 1875 Special Printing stamps

Discussion in 'United States Stamps' started by littleriverphil, Sep 12, 2014.

  1. littleriverphil

    littleriverphil Active Member

    About a month ago I showed a small collection of the 1875 Special Printing of the departmental stamps that had been altered by unidentified fakers. Because these stamps were in use at the time and were intended for departmemtal use only, and the public was not allowed to have unused departmental stamps, it was decided to overprint the stamps with the word SPECIMEN.

    The regular departmental stamps were difficult to obtain even used, during their period of use 1873-1884. Most of these "fakes" were made pretty easily, just by drawing a heavy line of ink across the word SPECIMEN.

    Most "stamp gatherers" as we were called then were not interested in the overprinted stamps but a used stamp was another story. I would guess that this practice of faking used stamps continued until the turn of the century, as when closely examined, some of these mutilated stamps are the wrong color, and or paper. In their greedy quest, these neferious folks have destroyed or at least altered scarce and sometimes, rare stamps.

    For my first example, I'll discuss this "used" O51. I don't really know when an O51 became more sought after than an O51s, although I do have a 1928 Scott and a 1932 Scott, they are both World Catalogues, my earlist Scott Specilized is a 1940 edition, which lists both a mint O51 and a used O51 at $4.00, and an O51s at $20.00

    Of the regular stamp, there were 38,200 issued, the O51s was a mere 177 copies. Looking closely at the stamp, you will notice that there is a line through the left half of the O in POST, it looks like a fiber as the crosshatched background shading is disturbed all the way to the unprinted inner oval.

    Another fiber crossed the lower label border and is showing on the left of the S of POST. Now, if that is a constant plate variety, there are possibly 382 copies of that variety on the regular stamp, but only 2 of them could exist on O51s.One less rarity!

    O51 s used.JPG

    Some of the "alterations" were convincing, as this "used O10" is at first glance, but wait! Its the wrong color! The only 1 cent Executive that was that color is the third printing American Bank Note Company's O10 xs, and sure enough when examined with the powerful Wolfe binocular microscope ( 200X - 400X ) faint traces of the overprint are visible through the blue quartered cork, which is another clue, there are no blue cancellations on Executive stamps.

    The stamp was only used in two places, Washington,DC and the Presidents summer home in Long Island, NY. When I first saw this stamp on ebay, I knew immediately that it was faked, but wanted it for my Fake reference collection.

    As soon as the stamp arrived I scanned it at 1200 dpi, and then email the seller, telling him what I had found (what I knew I was going to find) and attached a copy of my scan to my email, asking for a return of my money, and then explained that I did want the stamp but not at the hammered down price.

    The next day I got an email agreeing to my offer. 4,652 copies of this stamp were sold, and there is an error in the printing, can't tell if this is one of the 46 or 47 errors.

    O10 xs used.JPG

    This last one was harder to spot, It also is the wrong color, but the difference is subtle. It is also the wrong paper, this time from the forth printing, again an American printing Sc O57 xs.

    Luckly there were no errors in this printing, other than the mismatched type size that is one of the identifying traits of this stamp, but again, that is hidden from us. Only 1,672 copies were sold.

    O57 xs used-001.JPG
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2014
  2. Philactica

    Philactica Active Member

    Good write-up and good scans, may collect yet.
    littleriverphil and Gunny like this.
  3. Hochstrasse

    Hochstrasse Moderator Moderator

    That's some great information littleriverphil!. Not only do you have the knack, the eye for the obscure and the knowledge, but you present it in a great read. Thanks for share.
    littleriverphil likes this.
  4. littleriverphil

    littleriverphil Active Member

    Thank you for your kind words. I'm sure that I missed a few. When looking for this type of material, you can't believe the color that you see, unless its a big difference like there is with an O10 and the O10 xs with or without cancel. I don't have a decent used O10 so I'll use this used O12 and compare it to an O10 xs.

    O12    O10 xs.JPG
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2014
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  5. Hochstrasse

    Hochstrasse Moderator Moderator

    I see what you mean Phil. The Scott Catalog lists both the regular Official and the Specimen as "carmine", but the Specimen stamp definitely has a rose carmine hue, at least as far as my eyes are concerned. I checked the 2 Executive Department stamps I have, one a O10S and one a O12 and found the same shade disparity. Even the O1S stamp I have is a slightly different shade than the regular Agriculture Department stamps. I hadn't really noticed the slight difference in shades before. That makes the narrative about the fakes you have written up that much more interesting and the deductive reasoning much clearer.
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  6. littleriverphil

    littleriverphil Active Member

    The color on the stamps is due to the different printings. While they are all Special Printings, The July 1875 printing ( the first printing, 10,000 each ) colors are very close to the issued stamps colors. but after that printing the hues change, the second printing ( 1 cent Agriculture, 1 cent Executive , 1 cent Justice, and 1 cent State, 10,000 each ) were on ribbed paper in Dec 1875 and the colors are not quite the same. In 1879, American BNC took over the contract, and printed the third printing consisting of the 1 cent executive and the 1 cent Navy, both of course on soft paper. This printing was only 5000 of each stamp, The Executive was one color, a violet rose, while the Navy stamp was two shades of blue, deep blue and gray blue.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2015
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  7. SATX Collector

    SATX Collector Remember the Alamo!

    I will Echo Hochstrasse... very nice research and very clear presentation. You spent some time doing homework! Commendable!
    littleriverphil likes this.
  8. zararina

    zararina Simply Me! :D

    Thanks for sharing the info and the photos. Worth reading and knowing. :)
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  9. littleriverphil

    littleriverphil Active Member

    Since you have a shade disparity between your O10s and your O12s, compare your O10s to the O10xs above, if the overprint is blue, it is O10s, first or second printing, if the overprint is more of a violet color, it is the third printing, O10xs. All second printing stamps are on ribbed paper, which would account for the slightly different shade of your O1s. Look between the perfs, is the hole clean or does it have paper fibers? Are the perfs torn or where they cut with scissors? Most of the first printing were cut apart with scissors, ribbed paper leaves fibers in the perf holes. Here is a side by side comparision. On the stamp on the left with the Imprint capture, notice how clean and neat the perf holes are, and at the bottom right notice the straight scissor cut ( above the pink line. This is a first printing. and of course the stamp on the right is a second printing, notice the fibers at the perf tips on the top and right sides. You should be able to see a difference in the color shades as well, the second printing being slightly yellower. Of course, not all computers and monitors will display color the same.

    1st & 2nd printings.JPG
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  10. Hochstrasse

    Hochstrasse Moderator Moderator

    I have a 1c Agriculture specimen like the one you are showing. It has fibers in the perf holes. The 1c Executive Department specimen does indeed have a blue overprint. I always thought is was black, but under 30x magnification the overprint over the white portions of the paper is distinctly blue, while the overprint over the rose carmine "appears" black. It's very interesting to understand the differences between the printings. It appears both of my specimens are second printings, thanks for the information!
    littleriverphil likes this.
  11. littleriverphil

    littleriverphil Active Member

    You're welcome. Glad to be of some help. Can you see the ribbed paper? All second printings are on second printings, and will show fibers at the perf tips similar to soft paper stamps. Approximately 60% of the second printing shows the ribbed paper on the back of the stamp, and the other 40% show on the front, depending on how the paper was fed into the press.
  12. Hochstrasse

    Hochstrasse Moderator Moderator

    No, I can't see the ribbed paper, either on the front or the back. I tried both the 10x loop and the 30x magnifier. The stamp looks like the soft paper variety, but it is "harder" than the soft paper when I flick it with my nail. Could it still be ribbed paper even if I don't see it?
    littleriverphil likes this.
  13. littleriverphil

    littleriverphil Active Member

    Yes. In order to see the ribbed paper, you'll need to look at the stamps at an angle while the stamp is illuminated by an indirect light source. Preferably reflected light. I have a very hard time seeing the ribs as well. They are very fine ( about 40 per inch ) and uniform. This is the reason I mentioned the fibers at the perf tips, it is much easier to see. Both the 1st Printing ( July 1875 ) and the 2nd Printing (Dec 1875) were on hard paper. What is really needed is a method or trick to scan the stamp that will show the ribbing. One of the leading Bank Note collectors has been able to photograph the ribbing, but it took specialized equipment to get his photo. Here is his photo, realize that you are looking at the stamp from the bottom to the top, and that the stamp is the same size as your two Specimens are. This ribbing is only on stamps of the Continental Bank Note Company.

    Ken Srail's pic Continential Ribbing.jpg
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  14. Hochstrasse

    Hochstrasse Moderator Moderator

    That was the ticket! Looking flat down with magnification I couldn't see them, but at an angle with a table top florescent and a simple hand magnifier made the ribbing visible. I think sitting the stamp inside of a black watermark tray also helped, since the photo you posted showed a black background I thought I would use the tray. Great tip Littleriverphil.
  15. littleriverphil

    littleriverphil Active Member

    I'm pleased that tip showed you the ribbing. Now if you could help me figure out a way to easily scan a stamp to show that, I'd really be grateful. That's one of the reason I love the large bank notes, they are such a puzzle! And you spend a lot of time learning how to tell them apart, Now you know how to tell hard paper from soft, can identify ribbed paper, that only leaves double paper and the mysterious intermediate paper. I'm still learning how to recognize double paper..the intermediate paper is just that.. between hard and soft paper. All these different papers were used by Continental BNC, just before they turned the contract over to American BNC and something that you only find working with Officials, for the most part.

    Continental Double Paper.JPG
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2015
  16. Hochstrasse

    Hochstrasse Moderator Moderator

    I'll have to give that some thought. Since the ribbed lines are only visible when light is reflected off the surface at a given angle I have to wonder if setting up a stamp that is somewhat "tilted" on the scanner bed is going to pick up the same thing. I was under the impression some "cross lighting" was required? I'm not sure a scanner is going to accomplish that. I share your appreciation of the large bank note stamps and officials. Learning about paper types is an absolute necessity when typing them. Aren't double papers quite rare? I had read somewhere that most of them were recalled during the period because they were already delaminating on their way to post offices?
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2015
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  17. littleriverphil

    littleriverphil Active Member

    I'm not sure that I would call the double papers rare, but certainly scarce. I think that they are just hard to spot, a lot of soft paper stamps may look like they will separate like the double paper do, but instead they tear. Maybe its that I don't have the courage to try and split a stamp like that. :inpain:
    I haven't read that Continental recalled the double paper, but they did stop using it, before using the ribbed paper late in 1875. Seven of the Officials are found on double paper, the 3 cent, 24 cent, and 90 cent Post Office, the 3 cent State, the 3 cent, 10 cent and 90 cent Treasury. All of the officials, all values ( except the dollar values) and oddly only the 1 cent stamp of both the Interior and the Justice Departments, are found on horizontally or vertically ribbed paper.

    I've tried "tilting" the stamp on the scanner bed, but that was on a grilled stamp experiment, I did find that the tilted stamp showed the grill better than when laid flat. I'm sure that is why Ken Scrail has been using cameras in order to capture the ribbing in a photograph. Last time he talked about it, he said that he was getting better photography equipment to try and improve on the picture of ribbed paper. Seems my desk is set in the wrong place, as the natural light i get isn't working well enough for me to see the ribbing well. Thank you for your interest, I've enjoyed the conversation.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2015
  18. Hochstrasse

    Hochstrasse Moderator Moderator

    I think trying to capture the ribbing with a camera is probably a better way to capture the image. The ribbing wasn't that easy to catch. It took just the right angle and just the right light for me to see it. Anyway, I found the reference about the double paper recalls I had seen. It is in the StampCommunity blog in a long discourse from Russ which I will link. It's quite interesting, but the relevant paragraph reads:
    "In 1875 the Post Office Department authorized the production of stamp with the Charles Steel patented compound double paper. From January 1, 1875 until April 15, about 28 million such stamps were issued. They were ordered withdrawn on April 15 because of complaints from postmasters that the top layer of paper had a tendency to shrink away from the heavier backing causing tears, curling and separation of the layers created inventory count problems, loss of time, and great waste of large amounts stock that was returned from the local post offices."
    littleriverphil likes this.
  19. littleriverphil

    littleriverphil Active Member

    Great recall. Another of Charles Steel's patents, in production a bit over 4 months with 28 million produced. Not exactly rare. That four month use span makes this cover a bit more desirable! Wish I could make out the date better. :happy: Thank you for that link.

    158c Double paper.JPG
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2015
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  20. SATX Collector

    SATX Collector Remember the Alamo!

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