Series of 1851-57 10¢ Washington
Earliest Known Use: May 20, 1855
Quantity issued: 2,000,000 (estimate)
Printed by: Toppan, Carpenter & Co.
Printing Method: Flat plate
The Postage Act of March 3, 1855 prompted the issuance of the first 10¢ U.S. stamp. “For every single letter… for any distance exceeding three thousand miles, ten cents.” U.S. #13, the Series of 1851-57 10¢ Washington, was commonly used on first class mail sent from one coast to the other.
The Series of 1851-57 10¢ Washington stamps were all printed in green ink using a single plate. However, differences in the plate led to four distinct types with major Scott Catalogue numbers. The Type II stamp can easily be identified – both top and bottom outer lines are broken, as well as the shells.
Types or varieties occur when a stamp has differences that 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.