Series of 1857-61 1¢ Franklin
Earliest Known Use: July 26, 1857
Quantity issued: Unknown
Printed by: Toppan, Carpenter & Co.
Printing Method: Flat plate
When the world’s first postage stamps were released, no provision was made for separating the stamps from one another. Post office clerks and stamp users merely cut these “imperforates” apart with scissors or tore them along the edge of a metal ruler. A device was needed which would separate the stamps more easily and accurately.
In 1847, Irishman Henry Archer patented a machine that punched holes horizontally and vertically between rows of stamps. Now stamps could be separated without cutting. Perforations enabled stamps to adhere better to envelopes. He sold his invention to the British Treasury in 1853. That same year, Great Britain produced its first perforated stamps.
The 1857-61 issues were the first perforated U.S. stamps. Their designs were reproduced from the imperforate plates of 1851. Because the same plates were used, the perforate stamp types don’t differ much from the corresponding imperforate stamps. The entire series (U.S. #18-39) is noted for having narrow margins.
The Type IIIa stamp is similar to Type III, except the outer line is broken at either the top or bottom – usually the top. (If the outer line is broken at both the top and bottom, it is a Type III.)