Series of 1857-61 12¢ Washington
Earliest Known Usage: June 1, 1860
Quantity: 2,800,000 (estimated)
Printed By: Toppan, Carpenter & Co.
Printing Method: Flat plate
Evidence suggests two plates were used to produce U.S. #36 – Plate I was the same one used to print the 1851 imperforate stamps. #36B stamps were printed using Plate III. The outside frame lines were not recut, so the lines are uneven, broken, or partly missing. The spacing between the stamps is slightly wider on Plate III.
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.