Series of 1867 1¢ Franklin
Earliest Known Use: March 9, 1868
Quantity issued: 3,000,000 (estimate)
Printed by: National Bank Note Company
Method: Flat plate
Grills were made by embossing the stamp, breaking paper fibers, and allowing canceling ink to soak deeply into the paper. This made it difficult to remove cancels and reuse stamps. Charles Steel, who oversaw postage stamp production in the 1860s, patented the grilling method. It was used nine short years – 1867 to 1875. Grilling resulted in some of the greatest U.S. stamp rarities, including the legendary “Z” Grill U.S. #85A.
Series of 1867
Grills are classified by the dimensions of the grill pattern and are measured in millimeters or by counting the number of grill points. There are eleven major classifications.
“A” Grill Covers the entire stamp
“B” Grill 18x15mm (22x18pts)
“C” Grill 13x16mm (16-17x18-21pts)
“D” Grill 12x14mm (15-17-18pts)
“Z” Grill 11x14mm (13-14x18pts)
“E” Grill 11x13mm (14x15-17pts)
“F” Grill 9x13mm (11-12x15-17pts)
“G” Grill 9 ½ x9mm (12x11-11 ½ pts)
“H” Grill 10x12mm (11-13x14-16pts)
“I” Grill 8 ½ x10mm (10x11x10-13pts)
“J” Grill 7x9 ½ mm (10x12pts)
The letters that classify the various grill types do not denote the size, shape, or appearance of the grills. Rather, they simply indicate the order in which they were discovered.
The exception to the rule is the “Z” grill, which was identified by William L. Stevenson. Stevenson could not decide to which family of grills this particular type belonged. Nor did he know which other families it preceded or followed and so he designated it as “Z Grill,” where “Z” signifies the unknown.
Visible in general from the back of the stamp only, grills may also be felt by lightly running a fingertip over the surface. Depending on which type of roller was used, the pattern may be “points up” or a “points down.” The ridges on an indented roller force the paper into the recesses, creating raised points, while a roller with raised pyramids will cause the points to be forced down into the paper, forming a series of depressions.
The United States was the first country to issue grilled stamps and was the only country to do so until the mid-1870s, when Peru also began using grills. The National Bank Note Company was responsible for producing both countries’ stamps.
Franklin Arrives In Philadelphia
On October 6, 1723, a 17-year-old Benjamin Franklin first arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, Franklin apprenticed in his brother’s print shop at the age of 12. During this time Franklin submitted many articles under the pseudonym “Mrs. Silence Dogood.” However, when his brother discovered that Benjamin was the author of the articles, he refused to publish them. The two brothers quarreled frequently, and at the age of 17, Franklin ran away.
Franklin first traveled to New York City but was unable to find a job. However, while there he learned that he could work for a printer in Philadelphia.
Franklin finally reached Philadelphia on October 6, 1723. As he later recalled, he was in his working clothes, with additional clothes stuffed into his pockets. Tired and hungry from the journey, he found a baker and offered all the money he had – three pence – for whatever that would get him. He received three loaves of bread, one of which he ate as he walked the streets.
Franklin eventually followed a group of people to a Quaker meetinghouse where he slept briefly and then met a friendly Quaker who showed him a place to spend the night. There, Franklin could rest, eat, and get ready to meet the printer. However, when he met the printer, he told him that he didn’t have any work available, but offered to let him stay there. The printer also told Franklin about another printer in town who might have work for him, and this one eventually did hire him.
In the coming years, Franklin became a respected member of the Philadelphia community, thanks in large part to the kindness of these strangers in his early days there. Aside from his publishing work, Franklin flourished, and his accomplishments and contributions to the city earned him the title “The first citizen of Philadelphia.”
Franklin’s many contributions to the city of Philadelphia include: founding the first subscription library in the American colonies; organizing the city’s fire department; law enforcement reform; leading efforts to pave, clean, and light public streets; raising money to build a city hospital, the Pennsylvania Hospital; and founding the academy that became the University of Pennsylvania.
Click here to read Franklin’s account of his first days in Philadelphia.
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