1895 $1 Perry
Issued: August 12, 1895
Issue Quantity: 63,803
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Watermark: Double line USPS
U.S. #276A was issued on August 12, 1895, and used until it was replaced by the $1 of the Series on 1902. Because it was printed with the same plates as the unwatermarked 1894 Bureau Issues, the $1 Perry is also found with both Type I and II varieties.
The Type II Perry is distinguished by the difference in the circles enclosing the “1” found at the bottom right and left portion of the design. On the Type II stamp, the circles are complete. In Type I, the circles are broken where they meet the curved line below “One Dollar.”
Joseph B. Leavy of the National Postal Museum discovered this variety in the organization’s collection.
A total of 3,000 1895 $1 Perry stamps were overprinted for use in the Philippines following the Spanish-American War. Another 3,000 copies were surcharged for use in Guam.
Why Watermarks Were Added in 1895
The United States printed stamps on watermarked paper from 1895 to 1915. The watermarks, consisting of the letters “USPS” (for United States Postal Service), were faint patterns impressed into the paper during its manufacture. Often only a single letter or a portion of a letter is found on a single stamp.
Since the special watermark paper may already have been ordered at the time of the “Chicago Counterfeits,” the Postal Department may have anticipated the possibility before it actually happened. Other nations had used watermarking earlier.
The “USPS” watermarks are in single line or double line letters. To see a watermark, put the stamp in a watermark tray and add a few drops of watermark fluid. The mark (or part of it) should show clearly, though it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between single and double line watermarks.
The Chicago Counterfeits
The “Chicago Counterfeits,” as the scandal came to be known, was one of the few counterfeits in the history of U.S. postage stamps. The Post Office Department was made aware of the matter when Edward Lowry contacted Postal Inspector James Stuart. Lowry wanted to know if the Postal Department had any objection to his purchasing the 2¢ current issue at less than face value, as advertised in the Chicago Tribune. The ad read, “We have $115 U.S. two cent stamps which we cannot use here, will send them by express C.O.D. privilege of examination for $100. Canadian Novelty Supply Agency, Hamilton, Ontario, Can.” In essence, they were offering 5,750 stamps worth $115 for $100. The deal sounded suspicious to Inspector Stuart, and in cooperation with Lowry, had him send a request for the stamps.
At about the same time, Nathan Herman called the ad to the attention of U.S. Secret Service agent, Captain Thomas Porter, who joined forces with Inspector Stuart. The agents also had Herman write for a package of stamps. On April 8, 1895, the stamps, which Lowry and Herman had ordered, arrived at the Chicago office of the Wells Fargo Express Company. In addition, five other similar packages arrived, ordered by other people who had seen the ad. Interestingly enough, each of them had received the proper number of stamps. Over 40,000 stamps were confiscated that day!
Meanwhile, on April 6th, Captain Porter was notified that a Mrs. Lacy and her daughter, Tinsa McMillan, had some sort of printing operation set up in a back room of their apartment. When Porter, along with several agents and police officers, searched the apartment later that same evening, they found a copying camera, a perforating machine, copper printing plates, gummed paper, and other paraphernalia for producing stamps. Suspecting they were on the right track, he and Inspector Stuart traveled to Hamilton, Ontario, where they arrested Tinsa McMillan at the office of the Canadian Novelty Supply Company. As head of the organization, she had organized and directed the entire affair, and was sentenced to a year and a half in a reformatory.
A Mr. George Morrison was also arrested over a week later at his downtown Chicago office. A printing press was found there, but no other supplies. Apparently, the stamps were printed at his office and then shipped to Canada.
Seven months later, a Mr. Warren Thompson was arrested. The owner and editor of a magazine called Heart and Hand, he had assisted in making the stamps and was using them as postage on his periodical as a test to determine if the stamps would be discovered when passing through the mail. Thirty thousand more counterfeit stamps were confiscated, bringing the total up to over 70,000 confiscated stamps!
After the 1895 counterfeiting scam, the Post Office Department made the decision to print the stamps on watermarked paper. A watermark is a pattern impressed into the paper during its manufacture. While still in the wet pulp stage, the paper passes through a “dandy roller” which has “bits” attached to it. These bits are pressed into the paper, causing a slight thinning, and thus imprinting the design.
Beginning with the first postage stamp, watermarks were used to discourage counterfeiting. Britain’s Penny Black was watermarked with a small, simple crown. Various other designs were used until 1967, when Britain produced its first stamp on unwatermarked paper. Today, many British commonwealth countries still use watermarks. The designs range from letters to symbols or emblems, from the simple to the intricate.
The first U.S. watermark consisted of the letters USPS (United States Postal Service) and is described as being “double-lined.” The letters were repeated across the entire sheet, and as a result, only a portion of one or more letters will appear on a stamp. Occasionally, a stamp will have a complete letter on it. When the stamps were printed, no thought was given to the position of the watermark. Consequently, the watermark may be backwards, upside-down, backwards and upside-down, or sideways in relation to the stamp. None are unusual or considered a separate variety.
Errors were made, however, on the 6¢ Garfield and the 8¢ Sherman, when some of the stamps were printed on sheets watermarked USIR (United States Internal Revenue). Since the BEP printed regular issue postage stamps, as well as revenue stamps, it’s easy to see how such a mistake may have happened. Some believe the switch may have been deliberate, because not enough properly marked paper was available.
A watermark can be identified by holding the stamp up to a light source, or with the aid of a watermark tray and benzine fluid. When the stamps are printed on a colored background, as the 1895 series is, the latter method is preferred. The stamp is placed face down in the tray, and a small drop of solution is dropped onto it. As the liquid penetrates the paper, the watermark will show up briefly, as the thinner paper is penetrated first.
The Battle Of Lake Erie
On September 10, 1813, Oliver Hazard Perry won an important War of 1812 victory on Lake Erie.
Shortly after the United States declared war in 1812, Great Britain seized control of Lake Erie; already having two ships in service there – the Queen Charlotte and the General Hunter. At the time, the Americans only had one ship on the lake, the USS Adams, which was later captured by the British when they took Detroit.
In late 1812, the US government commissioned the construction of a fleet of ships to protect Lake Erie. By March of the following year, Master Commandant Oliver Hazard Perry arrived at Presque Isle, Pennsylvania, to take command of the fleet and oversee construction. By mid-July, his squadron was nearly complete, though not yet fully manned. In the meantime, the British forces, led by Commander Robert Heriot Barclay, had kept a close watch on the Americans and maintained a blockade at Presque Isle for 10 days in late July. The British were unable to attack, as their ships could not pass through the sandbar that had just five feet of water over it.
On July 29, Barclay and the British ships left the harbor, either to get supplies, attend a banquet in his honor, or to catch the Americans off guard upon their return. With the British fleet gone, Perry immediately began the exhaustive task of moving his ships across the sandbar. When Barclay returned four days later, he found that Perry had moved all his gunboats and smaller brigs across the sandbar. Barclay retreated to wait for the Detroit to be completed. Over the next few weeks, Perry got more sailors and established an anchorage in Ohio’s Put-In-Bay. For five weeks, Barclay was unable to deliver much-needed supplies to Amherstburg, so he had no choice but to battle with Perry.
In the early hours of September 10, American sailors noticed Barclay’s ships coming toward them and immediately left their anchorage. Early on, the British had the wind in their favor, which conversely made the Americans approach much slower than Perry had hoped. He had planned to get his two main brigs, his flagship Lawrence and the Niagara into firing range quickly but the light wind prevented this. For at least 20 minutes, the long guns of the Detroit battered the Lawrence as it made its slow approach. When the Lawrence was finally within range at about 12:45, it was not as effective as he had hoped, because the sailors had overloaded the cannons.
Meanwhile, the Niagara was even farther away from the action and went largely undamaged. The American gunboats in the rear of the battle line were successfully hitting the British ships, but could not prevent the damage being done to the Lawrence. Four-fifths of the Lawrence’s crew were killed or wounded. When the Lawrence’s last gun was unusable, Perry removed the ship’s battle flag and rowed a half-mile through heavy gunfire to assume command of the Niagara (as shown on US #4805).
In the meantime, two British ships, the Detroit and Queen Charlotte, collided – as they had become unmanageable due to damaged rigging. Nearly all the British officers were killed or severely wounded, with Barclay among those hurt. Many of the smaller British ships began to disperse and they expected the Americans to retreat. However, Perry ordered the schooners to come closer to the action and steered the Niagara toward the damaged British ships, with the strengthening wind now on his side. The American ships successfully moved through the British line, forcing their surrender by 3 p.m. Despite winning the battle aboard the Niagara, Perry insisted on receiving the British surrender on the deck of the Lawrence, so they could see the terrible price his men had paid.
With the battle over, Perry wrote two victory letters. To General William Henry Harrison he said, “We have met the enemy and they are ours. Two ships, two brigs, one schooner, and one sloop.” And to Secretary of the Navy William Jones, he said, “It has pleased the Almighty to give to the arms of the United States a signal victory over their enemies on this lake. The British squadron… have this moment surrendered to the force under my command after a sharp conflict.” Perry’s important victory on Lake Erie not only secured the lake under American control, but also changed the course of the war, leading to America’s absolute independence from Britain and establishment of peaceful relations between the United States, Great Britain, and Canada.
In the early 1900s, talks began concerning some way to commemorate Perry’s victory at Lake Erie. Construction on the memorial began in 1912 in Put-In-Bay, Ohio. Beneath the monument’s stone floor are the bodies of six officers killed in the battle – three British and three American. The monument was officially dedicated on July 31, 1931. Four years later, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established it as Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial National Monument.
At 352 feet tall, the monument is the world’s most massive Doric (Greek style) column. It is also one of the tallest monuments in the United States (after the Gateway Arch, San Jacinto Mo