Series of 1923-26 2¢ George Washington
Issue Date: January 1923
First City: Washington, D.C.
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Rotary Press
Perforation: 10 Vertically
Color: Carmine Lake
US #599 was issued in carmine, but a small number were found in the carmine lake color, which has a more bluish or purplish hue compared to the regular carmine. Stamps with the carmine lake color are identified as #599b and are much more scarce than #599.
US #599 was officially issued on January 15, 1923 – but the Philatelic Stamp Agency didn’t receive any until January 17th. Some coils were sent to post offices as early as January 6th, with the instructions not to release them before the 15th. In some cases, these instructions were overlooked and copies of this stamp were released early. The earliest known usage is on January 10. The stamp remained in production for 16 years.
Series of 1923-26 stamps printed on Type I plates have a lighter overall appearance than the ones produced on the later, re-cut Type II plates. The hair on Washington’s head does not have the heavy lines evident in the Type II stamp. The scrollwork about the left “2” (called “acanthus”) is light and not sharply defined. The rectangular box surrounding circle in bottom corners is heavier, less defined.
Washington Enjoyed Free Franking
George Washington was extended the free franking privilege as a private citizen on April 28, 1784 – only the second person to have it (Ben Franklin was the first). That meant he could send mail for free by applying his signature. When Washington became U.S. President in 1789, he continued to use the franking privilege, even for official duties. However, the free franking privilege had not yet been officially granted to the executive branch of government. That wouldn’t come until February 20, 1792.