Series of 1857-61 10¢ Washington Type
Earliest Known Use: May 3, 1857
Quantity issued: 2,400,000 (estimate)
Printed by: Toppan, Carpenter & Co.
Printing Method: Flat plate
There are five major varieties of the Series of 1857-61 10¢ Washington stamp. Types I through III (U.S. #31-33) are basically the same as the imperforate 10¢ types (U.S. #13-15). On the Type III stamp, both the top and bottom outer lines are broken, as well as the shells.
This denomination satisfied the domestic first class rate over 3,000 miles and the foreign letter rate under 2,500 miles.
America’s First Perforated Stamp Series
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.