Series of 1857-61 24¢ Washington
Earliest Known Use: July 7, 1860
Quantity issued: 736,000 (estimate)
Printed by: Toppan, Carpenter & Co.
Printing Method: Flat plate
Color: Gray lilac
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.
The 24¢ Washington stamp, along with the 30¢ and 90¢ denominations, was a new issue in this series. A number of variations occur, with portions of the design being cut away from the top, bottom, or sides.
U.S. #37 exists in lilac and gray lilac. A red lilac shade is known in unused condition only; however, noted philatelic author Lester G. Brookman argued the red lilac should be considered a trial color proof and not a stamp.