Series of 1857-61 30¢ Franklin
Earliest Known Use: August 8, 1860
Quantity issued: 356,000 (estimate)
Printed by: Toppan, Carpenter & Co.
Printing Method: Flat plate
Because of its high denomination, postally used examples of this 30¢ Franklin often have interesting stories regarding their history. The late Senator Ackerman, a noted collector, once owned the largest block known. It contained 56 stamps and reportedly had been used to send a bag of gold dust from Sacramento City, California, to Boston, Massachusetts.
The 1857-61 issues were the first perforated U.S. stamps. Their designs were reproduced from the imperforate plates of 1851. The 24¢, 30¢, and 90¢ stamps were new denominations added to this series. They are found imperforate on regular stamp paper, but evidence indicates that these were trial color proofs.
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.