Series of 1857-61 12¢ Washington
First Day of Issue: July 30, 1857
Quantity issued: 3,000,000 (estimate)
Printed by: Toppan, Carpenter & Co.
Printing Method: Flat plate
Evidence suggests two plates were used to produce U.S. #36 – one being the plate used to print the 1851 imperforate stamps. Most U.S. #36 stamps were printed with this plate and have the same characteristics as U.S. #17.
Stamps printed by the second plate can be distinguished by examining the outside frame lines, which are very uneven and possibly broken up.
The Series of 1857-61 – America’s First Perforated Stamps
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 rule. 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.