1909 1¢ Franklin
Issue Date: February 16, 1909
Quantity issued: 1,480,000
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Method: Flat plate
Watermark: Double line
Issued on experimental paper, U.S. #357 is most easily identified by noting the grayish color of the paper through the gum on the back.
U.S. #357 Stamp Was Part of a Short-lived Bureau Experiment
In 1909, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing was having trouble with shrinkage of stamp paper. This shrinkage caused many stamps to have off-center perforations. Some were so badly misaligned they had to be discarded! Some estimates report that as many as 20% of these stamps were destroyed because of misplaced perforations.
To try to limit the waste from paper shrinkage, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing tried adding various components to the normal stamp paper. In one such experiment, about 1/3 rag stock was added to the wood pulp in hopes of reducing the shrinkage. The rag stock may have contained a small amount of dye, to make it easier to differentiate between the new experimental stamps and the regular issued stamps of 1908-09.
Because of the slightly different paper color, these stamps have become known to collectors as “bluish-paper” stamps.
Unfortunately for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the rag stock experiment was not successful in stopping paper shrinkage and was discontinued after a very short time. Consequently, few of the bluish-paper stamps were issued. And because collectors of the day failed to notice a difference between these new stamps and the regular issues, even fewer were saved.