Series of 1867 5¢ Jefferson
Earliest Known Use: November 19, 1868
Quantity issued: 680,000 (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.
Jefferson Wins Presidency
On February 17, 1801, Thomas Jefferson was elected president by the US House of Representatives following an electoral tie with Aaron Burr.
After penning the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson served in the Second Continental Congress, the Virginia House of Delegates, as governor of Virginia, and US minister to France. Upon his return to America after the war, Jefferson became America’s first secretary of state.
Appointed by George Washington, Jefferson disagreed sharply with Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton’s national fiscal policy. The primary debate was over funding the Revolutionary War debt. Hamilton believed the debt should be divided equally among the states. Jefferson, a firm advocate of states’ rights, believed that each state should be responsible for the debt it alone had incurred (Virginia had not accumulated a significant amount of debt during the war). Their disagreement led to further divisions in the new government, with Hamilton’s Federalists on one side and Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party on the other.
As secretary of state, Jefferson supported France in its war with England. In 1793, he returned to Monticello and began working with James Madison to undermine Hamilton’s influence. Jefferson lost the 1796 presidential election to the Federalist candidate, John Adams. However, he had enough electoral votes to be elected Vice President.
Four years later, the Federalists lost the presidency and control of Congress. Jefferson defeated John Adams and received enough electoral votes to tie with Aaron Burr. The tie for first place in the election was to be resolved by the House of Representatives, which was controlled by the Federalists. In a lengthy debate, Hamilton convinced his colleagues that Jefferson was “by far not so dangerous a man” as Burr. After deadlocking in 35 ballots, the House of Representatives chose Jefferson by a margin of ten to four on February 17, 1801.
Though they had been running mates in the election, tensions were high between Jefferson and Burr during their time in office. Jefferson ultimately replaced Burr in the 1804 election. The 1800 election was one of the catalysts of Burr’s fatal duel with Alexander Hamilton.