Reprint of 1857-60 Issue
Earliest Known Use: 1875
Quantity Sold: 489
Printed by: Continental Bank Note Company
Printing Method: Flat plate
Color: Greenish Black
Issued for the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, this stamp is a reprint of the 12¢ stamp from the series of 1857-61. However, because it was issued for collectors and not postal use, it was issued in much smaller quantities. Just 489 #44 stamps were sold! (The rest were destroyed.) That’s an amazingly low number – surely not enough to satisfy collector demand. In fact, this 12¢ Washington is so scarce it's not offered in Mystic's U.S. Stamp Catalog!
The paper on this issue is harder and whiter than the original. The perforations are also different. (The first issue was perforated 15½.)
The Post Office Department wanted to sell every US stamp at the Exhibition – including the ones that were no longer in use. Because many of the original plates couldn’t be found, new ones had to be engraved. Observant collectors noticed subtle differences, so Scott gave them their own numbers. Not realizing they had created philatelic rarities, the Post Office Department sold them as planned.