1873 90¢ Perry
Continental Bank Note Printing
Earliest Known Use: June 25, 1875
Quantity issued: 197,000 (estimate)
Printed by: Continental Bank Note Company
Method: Flat plate
Color: Rose carmine
As commander of a fleet on Lake Erie, Oliver Hazard Perry defeated the British in the War of 1812. After a fierce battle and triumphant victory, he proclaimed, “We have met the enemy, and they are ours.”
The Continental Bank Note Company didn’t add secret marks to this denomination. The color – rose carmine – distinguishes it from the other 90¢ Bank Note stamps, which are carmine.
Bank Notes 1870-1888
Due to the unpopularity of the 1869 Pictorial series, the Postmaster General found it necessary to issue new stamps. Among the public’s many complaints were that the stamps were too small, unattractive, and of inferior quality. Thus, the new issues were not only larger and better quality, but they also carried new designs. Heads, in profile, of famous deceased Americans were chosen as the new subject matter.
Nicknamed the “Bank Note” stamps, this series was printed by three prominent Bank Note printing companies – the National, Continental, and American Bank Note Companies, in that order. As the contract for printing passed from company to company, so did the dies and plates. Each company printed the stamps with slight variations, and identifying them can be both challenging and complex.
Because the pictorials were to be printed for four years, but were withdrawn from sale after a year, the National Bank Note Company still had three years remaining in their contract. The stamps they printed were produced with and without grills.
In 1873, new bids were submitted and a new contract was awarded to the continental Bank Note Company. So-called “secret marks” enabled them to distinguish their plates and stamps from earlier ones.
The American Bank Note Company acquired Continental in 1879 and assumed the contract Continental had held. This firm, however, printed the stamps on a soft paper, which has different qualities than the hard paper used by the previous companies.
Color variations, in addition to secret marks and different paper types, are helpful in determining the different varieties. These classic stamps are a truly fascinating area of philately.
Birth Of Oliver Perry
Oliver Hazard was born on August 23, 1785, in South Kingstown, Rhode Island.
Perry was a direct descendant of William Wallace, a leader during the Scottish Wars of Independence. He was also older brother to Matthew Perry, who later opened Japan to the West.
From a young age, Perry learned to sail ships, anticipating a career at sea. At the age of 13, he was appointed a midshipman in the United States Navy. He had his first combat experience during the Quasi-War with France in 1800 aboard his father’s ship, the USS General Greene. During that war and the Tripolitan War, he served on such famous ships as the Adams, Constellation, Nautilus, Essex, and Constitution. Perry then served in the First Barbary War, commanding the USS Nautilus and Revenge.
Perry took a leave of absence to get married, but when war was declared in 1812, he sought to join the action. After briefly commanding a small squadron in Newport, he petitioned for a posting at sea. In February 1813, he received orders to report to the Great Lakes to command and oversee construction of a flotilla. It was a busy year for Perry. Upon arrival, he took command and led the defense of Presque Isle, obtained reinforcements from Lake Ontario, commanded schooners and gunboats at the Battle of Fort George, and traveled to Black Rock to recover abandoned American vessels that had been taken by the British.
Perry’s other successes included the destruction of British munitions at Fort Erie, overseeing construction of the Erie fleet of ships, getting those ships over the sandbar, blocking British supplies for a month before the battle, and planning the Thames invasion with General William Henry Harrison. Perry also acquired more men for his fleet from the Constitution, which was then undergoing repairs.
Perry’s leadership was crucial to the success of all nine Lake Erie American victories during the War of 1812. The most famous was the September 10, 1813, battle for which he earned the nickname, “Hero of Lake Erie.” Click here for more on that battle.
Perry went on to serve with distinction, receiving the Congressional Gold Medal and an eventual promotion to commodore. He later commanded the USS Java during the Second Barbary War. In 1819, Perry traveled to Venezuela to discourage piracy and encourage friendly relations. However, after signing the treaty, Perry and much of his crew were stricken with yellow fever. Perry died on August 23, 1819, his 34th birthday.
Click here to visit the National Park site for Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial in Ohio.