Are You Missing These 1917-19 Washington-Franklin Stamps?
Flat Plate Printing, Perforated 11
The Washington-Franklins are among the most fascinating and challenging US stamps to collect. Issued between 1908 and 1922, they encompassed over 200 varieties, five different designs, two paper types, three printing methods, at least 14 perforations, several colors, and 20 denominations.
You can come one step closer to completing your Washington-Franklin collection with this convenient set of 21 stamps. Following an earlier test of one perf. 11 stamp, this was the first set issued entirely with perf. 11. Set includes:
US #498 – The first stamp in the Series of 1917-1919 to be perforated 11 and issued on unwatermarked paper. It remained current for six years and was produced in large quantities. No exact records were kept by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing because they didn’t consider a change in watermark or perforation to be a separate stamp issue like collectors do. Issued to satisfy the post card rate.
US #499 – The BEP experimented with the master dies while producing the 2¢ Series of 1917-19 Washington. But the vast majority of stamps for this issue (US #499) were printed on the regular master plates (Type I). They were produced in great quantities, as they fulfilled the domestic first class mail rate. The Type I stamps had several distinguishing features: a pronounced white line underneath Washington’s ear, and the bottom two strands of hair behind his ear are shorter than the ones above it. Other features are often less distinct than found on Type II or Type III dies.
US #500 – This stamp was the result of an experiment on the flat plate issue of the 2¢ Washington with 11 gauge perforation. Type I master dies were beginning to wear out, so another die was produced by taking a particularly strong impression of a Type I with 10 subjects. A new transfer roll was then created. The result was an increase in pressure that produced a notable difference. Overall detail is notably clearer than on Type I stamps. Quantities of U.S. #500 are scarce – particularly for well-centered stamps.
US #501 – Type I. World War I presented difficulty for the Bureau regarding the 3¢ Washington stamps. Most of the high-quality ink came from Germany, and those supplies were interrupted. The quality of replacement inks was often inconsistent, resulting in a scattered range of color shades.
US #502 – Type II stamp, distinguished by: the left ribbon has only one line on the top fold (Type III has two); the strand of hair between the ear and cheek has a pronounced, curved outline on the bottom; the shaded area above Washington’s eye pushes upwards; a line on the right-hand ribbon appears as three dashes; shading lines in his hair, and in the laurel leaves, are often more pronounced than in Type I stamps, but less pronounced than Type III.
US #503 – The 4¢ Washington was printed in large quantities, and since it never was in particularly high demand, stayed current for six years.
US #504 – This stamp paid the Universal Postal Union international rate. It was printed in great quantities and current for six years. It is notable as the “correct” printing of a famous double-error stamp – US #505.
US #505 – This is a 5¢ stamp mistakenly printed with 2¢ stamps, meaning it received the wrong ink color (rose instead of blue). Click here to read the full story behind this interesting error.
US #506 – The 6¢ denomination covered the domestic rate for mail weighing up to three ounces prior to US entry into World War I. When the new wartime rate for domestic first rate mail increased from 2¢ to 3¢, US #506 fulfilled the postage for letters weighing two to three ounces. Large quantities were issued – greater than all previous 6¢ denominated stamps combined. This was due to the high demand for stamps brought on by World War I and the rate change.
US #507 – The 7¢ denomination didn’t have a specific function when it was produced, but was used in combination with other stamps to pay for heavier mail or letters with foreign destinations. The color for #507 ranges from a gray-black to a deep black.
US #508 – Like similar denominations, the 8¢ Franklin had no specific role. It was primarily used for Parcel Post and to make up the differences in shipping heavier letters and packages overseas to help with the war effort. More #508 stamps were issued than all previous 8¢ denominated stamps combined, due to the high demand for stamps in general during this time period.
US #509 – The entry of the U.S. into World War I led to an increase in the domestic first class mail rate from 2¢ to 3¢ per ounce. During the increase, which lasted from November 1917 to July 1, 1919, US #509 paid domestic fees for letters that weighed over 2 ounces.
US #510 – As with several denominations in the Series of 1916-22 stamps, the 10¢ Franklin was issued in greater quantities than all previous stamps of that denomination. There was a greater demand for stamps during World War I, including higher-denominated stamps that could be used to pay rates for overseas mail and parcels.
US #511 – During World War I, the postal rate for domestic mail was increased to 3¢, which increased the rate for domestic and registered mail to 13¢. US #511 was frequently used for that purpose when combined with a 2¢ stamp. It was also used in combination with other stamps to pay for heavier letters or foreign destination mail.
US #512 – As with other higher denomination stamps from this era, US #512 was often used to pay the Parcel Post fee. There were numerous shades of the color, ranging from claret brown (“claret” is a deep, purplish red) to light copper red.
US #513 – This stamp was issued to meet a previous request to satisfy the 10¢ registered letter fee with the 3¢ first-class rate. However, a few months after it was issued these rates changed following the end of World War I.
US #514 – While some stamps saw their usage jump with the change in wartime rates, US #514 saw an increase in usage after World War I. With open trade and shipping restored, the 15¢ fee paid for registered overseas letters. This stamp also paid the three-ounce Universal Postal Union international rate
US #515 – Was current for six years and went through numerous printings. That resulted in at least 11 shades, ranging from pale aquamarine to deep grayish blue. The stamp was used in combination with others to pay for heavy or foreign destination mail.
US #516 – The end of World War I marked a dramatic increase in Parcel Post mail, which made stamps with high denominations in more demand than ever before. This use made US #516 a commonly used stamp. Printed several times to meet the demand, US #516 shares the wide range of color shades seen with other high-denomination stamps.
US #517 – This stamp saw extensive use both during World War I and in the years that followed. It paid the rates for Parcel Post and heavier mailings to foreign destinations during the five years it was current.
US #518 – Used to send machine parts to Russia and aid packages to Europe. The high denomination stamp was used on heavier Parcel Post shipments.
Flat Plate, Perf. 11
The Bureau continued to use the 10 gauge perforation machines on flat plate stamp sheets even after 11 perf. stamps proved successful. In an effort to save money, they used the perf. 10 wheels until they wore out. Beginning in early 1917, stamps produced on flat plate presses were given 11 gauge perfs.
That marked the beginning of the flat plate perforated 11 Series of 1917-19 stamps. Perf. 12 had proven too flimsy, and perf. 10 was too difficult to separate without damaging the stamp, so perf. 11 became a satisfactory solution.