Own U.S. #10A –
Former Minor Variety Now Has Its Own Major Number!
Get U.S. #10A, the 3¢ Washington stamp of the Series of 1851-57 that recently received a major Scott number.
For decades, collectors have studied the 1851 3¢ Washington and all its minor varieties and types. In 2008, the publishers of the Scott Catalogue recognized these significant differences and assigned some of these stamps new numbers – including #10A. Scott’s recognition of #10A with a major number will likely increase collector interest and demand. So now is the right time to add this stamp to your U.S. collection. Read on to discover more...
Changes in Postage Rates Create Need for New Stamps
By 1851, record numbers of Irish immigrants were settling in the U.S., raising the national population to over 23 million. To ease the strain on postal clerks, the Postal Service introduced new rates and practices. Pre-paid postage rates dropped from 5¢ to 3¢ on letters traveling up to 3,000 miles. It may not sound like a significant difference now, but it was a big savings for the people of the time when you consider that the cost of the 5¢ stamp in 1851 would be equivalent to more than $10 in today’s wages, and the 3¢ stamp would cost over $6. The lower rate was intended to encourage people to pre-pay postage, lighten the burden on postal clerks and allow mailers to simply drop their letters in the post office mail slot, rather than wait in long lines.
With the lowered postal rates, new stamp designs were needed. The 3¢ definitive stamp served as the “workhorse” of the time, mailing the majority of America’s letters. So it’s only fitting that the stamp pictured America’s greatest patriot, George Washington.
#10A – Recently Announced Major Scott Number
If you look in a Scott Catalogue printed before 2008, you’ll notice U.S. #10A isn’t listed. That’s because prior to 2008, it was considered a minor variety. Extensive study of the 1851 3¢ Washington has revealed several varieties of color and recutting.
When the design for the 1851 3¢ Washington was created, it included a faint inner border. However, the line was drawn so thinly, it was barely visible. Some of the plates used to print these stamps were re-cut – meaning the inner line on the plate was made thicker so it would show up better on the stamps. Those stamps with the re-cut inner line were long classified as a minor variety of #10. But recently, Scott publishers have recognized that this recutting makes the stamp a different type – Type II – and have assigned it the major Scott number of #10A.
Since the recut stamp was never recognized with a major number until 2008, no one knows the exact quantity issued. We do know there were 1,710,000 U.S. #10 stamps issued, and only a portion of those were #10A. Plus, the chances of a large number of these 158-year-old classic stamps surviving the ravages of time are small. So the amount of #10A stamps is surely far less today. And even fewer have desirable fine centering, making your #10A even more scarce.
On July 1, 1851, several stamps from America’s second series of postage stamps were issued. These new stamps were issued to meet reduced postal rates that practically eliminated distance as a factor.
America’s first two postage stamps were issued exactly four years earlier. At the time, rates were determined by the weight and distance the letter was being mailed. Letters mailed 300 miles or less were 5¢ per half ounce; while those mailed over 300 miles were 10¢ per half ounce. Postage could be paid by the sender at the time the letter was mailed, or by the addressee upon receipt.
When the sender paid postage, the letter was marked “paid” by pen and ink or hand stamped. If no such cancel was evident, the person receiving the letter paid the postage. Inspections for accuracy and records of postal revenues were virtually impossible. With pre-printed stamps, accurate records could be kept of how many were issued and sold.
These stamps and rates remained in use until 1851. Then on March 3, 1851, Congress reduced postal rates. These new rates practically eliminated distance as a factor and created a need for new denominations. The 1¢ stamp was used on all mail up to 3 ounces and on “drop letters” which were mailed to the same town. The single letter rate, based on a half-ounce, was changed to 3¢ for mail not over 3,000 miles. Mail exceeding this distance was lowered to 6¢. Letters sent to or from a foreign country over 2,500 miles cost 10¢ and foreign mail under 2,500 miles cost 10¢.
The first stamps issued to meet this new rate were issued on July 1, 1851. Prepayment was still optional. If postage was paid by the addressee upon receipt, the rate was higher. Due to increased collect rates, the use of postage stamps was greatly stimulated.
Several of the stamps from this issue may look similar. That’s because they’re different “types.” Types or varieties occur when a stamp has differences which vary from the way it was originally intended to be printed. These differences occur when the design is being transferred to the plate for printing or when lines are re-cut.
The design is engraved on a die – a small, flat piece of steel. The design is copied to a transfer roll – a blank roll of steel. Several impressions or “reliefs” are made on the roll. The reliefs are transferred to the plate – a large, flat piece of steel from which the stamps are printed. When the design is being transferred to the roll or plate, differences can occur. A damaged plate or foreign matter causes differences. Lines re-cut on a worn plate can result in double lines.
On March 3, 1855, Congress passed another act, changing the rate for letters over 3,000 miles to 10¢. This act also made pre-payment compulsory beginning on April 1, 1855. The act also permitted the postmaster to create a registration system for valuable letters and to charge a five cent registration fee. Registration stamps to pay this fee would be required beginning on June 1, 1867.