the_1870_American_bg

National vs. Continental – The Secret Marks

The subsequent high resolution scans are provided so as you read the text describing the “secret marks” added to numerous denominations by the Continental Bank Note Company, you will have an example to refer to (scans by J.H. Barwis, RA2164, montage by CJD). Click the image to enlarge.

The American Banknote Company

The ABNC produced three different versions of the one cent Franklin. The first was printed using the CBNC plates. It is on soft porous paper and also has the secret mark. It was produced in dark ultramarine with blue and gray blue shades noted. Its earliest known use is 25 April 1879 with an estimated 590 million being produced. Black, blue, magenta, purple, red and green cancellations have been found.

In 1881, a re-engraved version was issued. It can be distinguished by the deepened the vertical lines in the upper part which gives it a solid appearance. Around 3.4 billion were produced in gray blue, with ultramarine, dull blue and slate blue shades identified. The earliest known use is 5 December 1881 with black, purple, magenta, blue, red, green and orange cancellation noted.

A total re-design of the frame was made in 1887. The color remained ultramarine with a bright ultramarine shade also identified. Its earliest known use is 7 July 1887. A little over 1.3 billion were printed and cancellations in black, purple, magenta, blue and red are known.

A special printing was produced in 1880 in dark ultramarine.

Two Cent Jackson

 A marble bust by Powers was used as the basis for the two cent Jackson stamp. It was printed in a shade of brown by the NBNC and CBNC. In 1875, the CBNC changed the color to vermilion and the ABNC continued with vermilion when they assumed the contract in 1879.

The American Banknote Company

Only one version of the regular issue two cent Jackson was produced by the ABN. The earliest known use is 4 February 1879 in vermilion. Approximately 440 million were issued. Cancellation in black, blue, purple, magenta and red are known. The two cent Jackson was replaced by the two cent Washington in 1883 when the first class postage rate was decreased from 3 to 2 cents.

Two special printings were also produced in 1880, one in black brown and the other in scarlet vermilion.

Two Cent Washington

Houdon marble bust was the source for the Washington design. Originally, Washington was the subject for the three cent stamp. However, in 1883 Congress lowered the rate to two cents and the two cent Washington was introduced to ensure that a stamp bearing Washington portrait was available for the first class rate. The ABNC was the only printer to produce two cent Washingtons.

 The American Banknote Company

Initially the two cent Washington was printed in red brown with dark red brown and orange brown shades also found. This stamp turned out to be the most common of the banknote stamps with over 4.3 billion produced. The earliest known use is 1 October 1883. Cancellations in black, purple, magenta, blue, violet, brown, red and green are found.

In 1887, the color was change to green. The earliest known use is 18 October 1887 with bright and dark green shades also identified. This stamp also turned out to be popular and approximately 3.5 billion were produce. Cancellation is black, purple, magenta, blue, red and green have been noted.

A special printing in pale red brown was produced in 1885.

Three Cent Washington

All three banknote companies produce three cent Washington’s in shades of green. The ABNC also produced one in vermilion.

The American Banknote Company

The ABNC produce three different Washington stamps two in green and one in vermilion. The first has an earliest known use of 7 February 1879. It was printed in green with light and dark green shades also found. A little over 1.3 billion were produced. Black, blue, magenta, purple, brown, violet, red and green cancellations have been identified.

 In 1880, a special printing in blue green was issued.

In 1881, the design was re-engraved with shading around the oval narrowed. The color is blue green with green and a yellow green shade can also found. Almost 1.5 billion were produced. Cancellations in black, purple, magenta, blue, brown and red are known.

In 1887, the color was changed to vermilion probably to prevent confusion with the new two cent Washington which was changed to green from red brown. Only 15 million, of the vermilion shade, were produced. Black, purple, blue and green cancellations have been found.

Four Cent Jackson

In 1883, the four cent Jackson was the last value added to the Banknote series to pay the double weight letter rate. It was only printed by the ABNC.

The American Banknote Company

The four cent Jackson was initially printed in blue green with a deep blue green shade also found. About 78.5 million were printed. It can be found with black, purple, magenta, green and blue cancels.

 A special printing was prepared in 1883 in deep blue green.

The color was changed to carmine in 1888; and, an estimated 24.5 million were produced. The earliest known use of the carmine shade is 29 January 1889. Rose carmine and pale rose shades have also been identified. Black, blue, red, purple and magenta cancels are found.

Five Cent Taylor

Unlike most of the other portraits in the banknote series, the five cent Taylor is based on a daguerreotype. No NBNC five cent stamps were produced. The need for a five cent stamp was created with the advent of the UPU in 1875. The rate to foreign countries, who were members of the UPU, was set at five cents; and, therefore the need for a five cent value was created. In 1879, when ABNC took over the printing contract the five cent Taylor continued to be produce until it was replaced by the five cent Garfield.

The American Banknote Company

The ABNC also produce a five cent Taylor in blue with dark, bright and light blue shades found. Its earliest known use is 12 May 1879. Approximately 42 million were produced. Cancellations in black, purple, magenta, ultramarine and red are known.

 In 1880, a special printing in deep blue was issued. Only 18 copies survive.

Five Cent Garfield

A presidential assassination gave rise to the five cent Garfield which replaced the five cent Taylor in 1882. The plan was to issue the stamp in black but President Garfield’s widow objected to the stamp in black and suggested brown. Again, like the five cent Taylor the design was based on a photograph. Thus both five cent stamp subject portraits were derived from photographs instead of marble bust like all other portraits in the series.

The American Banknote Company

The ABNC was the only one to produce the five cent Garfield. The first printing was in yellow brown with brown and gray brown shade also found. Over 167 million were produced and the earliest known use is 14 February 1882. Black, purple, magenta, blue and red cancellations have been noted.

A special printing in gray brown was produced in 1882. Only 22 copies survive.

In 1888, the stamp was reissued in indigo. An estimated 85 million were released. Cancellations of black, purple, magenta and blue can be found.

Six Cent Lincoln

A marble bust by Volk became the model for the portrait of Lincoln on the six cent bank notes which were printed by all three companies.

 

The American Banknote Company

The ABNC produced a pink six cent Lincoln which also has dull pink and brown rose shades. Its earliest know use was 1 July 1879. Over 23 million were issued with black, blue, purple, magenta and red cancellations found. Only twenty six copies surive.

 In 1880, a special printing in dull rose was issued.

A redesign was performed and the stamp was issued in rose with dull and deep brown rose shades also found. This stamp is distinguished from the prior version by counting the number of lines from the edge of the panel to the outside of the stamp. Previous versions has four lines, the redesigned version only has three. The earliest known use is 17 January 1883. A little over 11 million were issued. Black, magenta, purple, blue and red cancels can be found on this stamp.

Seven Cent Stanton

The original requirement for the banknote series did not include a seven cent value. However, in 1870, a treaty with the North German Confederation was concluded which allowed letters by direct steamer at seven cents. This rate was reduced to six cents the following year, but a new seven cent rate to Germany and Austria by Prussian closed mail via England took effect on 1 October 1871. Later the rate to Denmark (1872), Hungary and Luxemburg (1873) were set at seven cents. The seven cent stamp became obsolete in 1875 with the establishment of the UPU. The seven cent Stanton was only produced by the NBNC and CNBC.

The American Banknote Company

Although the ABNC did not produce any stamps for the mails, they did produce a special printing in scarlet vermilion in 1880.

Ten Cent Jefferson

The marble bust by Powers serve as the model for the ten cent Jefferson. The ten cent value was printed by all three banknote companies.

The American Banknote Company

Two versions were printed by the ABNC, with and without the secret mark. To distinguish the ABNC printings from the NBNC or CBNC check to see if the same has been printed on soft paper. Pairs with and without secret mark can be found. Both stamps were printed in brown with yellow brown shades also noted. Approximately 22 million with secret and 16 million without secret were printed.

Cancellations in black, blue, ultramarine, purple, magenta, red and green are found on the with secret mark stamp. Black, blue and magenta cancels are found on the without secret mark stamp. The earliest known use for the stamp with secret mark is 21 February 1879. The earliest known use for the stamp without secret mark is 5 September 1879.

A special printing in deep brown was made in 1880. Only thirty copies survive. It did not have the secret mark.

The ABNC re-engraved the stamp in 1882. The stamp can be distinguished by the number of vertical lines between the left edge of the oval and the edge of the shield. Previous versions had five vertical lines, the new version has just four. Brown, yellow, orange and black brown shades are known. The earliest known use is 11 May 1882. Black, purple, magenta, blue, red and green cancels have been found.

Twelve Cent Clay

The model for the twelve cent Clay was a bust by Hart. The Clay was only printed by the NBNC and the CBNC; however, the ABNC did produce a special printing.

The American Banknote Company

The ABNC produced a special printing in blackish purple in 1880.

Fifteen Cent Webster

Clevenger bust server as the model for the fifteen cent Webster stamp. All three banknote companies produced Webster stamps.

The American Banknote Company

The ABNC printing was in red orange with orange and yellow orange shades also known. Stamps printed on soft paper are attributed to the ABNC. Approximately 14.7 million stamps were issued. Cancels in black, blue, purple, magenta, ultramarine and red are known.

In 1880, a special printing in orange was produce by the ABNC.

Twenty-Four Cent Scott

 The design for the twenty-four cent Scott was taken from a bust by Coffee. The twenty-four cent value is probably the rarest of the banknote series. While it was printed by the NBNC and CBNC all but one copy has been identified as a NBNC printing. The ABNC only provided a special printing.

The American Banknote Company

The ABNC also produce a special printing in dark violet in 1880.

Thirty Cent Hamilton

The thirty cent Hamilton was produced by all three bank note companies based on a marble bust by Cerrachi.

The American Banknote Company

The ABNC initially produce the thirty cent value in full or greenish black. Its earliest known use is 8 August 1882. An estimated 4 million were produce. Cancel of black, blue, purple, magenta and red have been seen.

In 1880, a special printing in greenish black was produced.

In 1888, the color was change to orange brown, a deep shade is also known. Just over 900,000 were issued. Black, magenta and blue cancellations have been found.

Ninety Cent Perry

The high value in the series was based on a statue by Walcott. It was initially printed in shades of carmine by all three banknote companies before the ABNC changed it to purple late in the series.

The American Banknote Company

The ABNC printing can distinguish by the use of soft paper. Carmine, rose and carmine rose shades can be found. Approximately 215,000 were issued. Cancellation of black, blue, purple and red are found.

In 1880, a dull carmine special printing was produced.

Like the thirty cent Hamilton, the ninety cent Perry’s color was change in 1888. The new printing was in purple with bright purple also found. About 135,000 were printed. Black, blue and purple cancels are known.

References:

  • Scott Specialized Catalogue of U. S. Stamps and Covers, 1999
  • The 19th Century Postage Stamps of the United States, Vol 2, Brookman, 1947
  • The Micarelli Identification Guide to U. S. Stamps, Micarelli, 1991

Further Reading:

  • The Banknote Issues of the United States Stamps 1870-1893, Brookman, 1941
  • Cancellations and Killers of the Banknote Period: 1870-1894, Cole, 1995
  • United States Two Cent Red-Brown of 1883 to 1887, 2 volumes, Willard, 1970
  • The United States Three Cent Green: 1870 to 1887, Wiley
  • U. S. 1887 3c Vermilion, Davis, 1922
  • The Seven Cent Vermilion United States, Sampson
  • The United States Fifteen Cent Stamp of 1870 to 1890, Weiss, Jr, 1995

 


 

Helpful Links
.com
The Swedish Tiger’s US Stamp Site An illustrated Guide
Phillips Stamp Site (1870-88 Banknotes)
The Use of Wicking to Distinguish Old Stamps Scott #178 versus #183 by Howard Relles
The Use of Wicking to Distinguish Old Stamps The 3¢ and 10¢ Bank Note Issues printed on “white wove paper” versus “soft porous paper” by Howard Relles
The Use of Wicking to Distinguish Old Stamps Official Stamps printed on “thin hard paper” versus “soft porous paper” by Howard Relles
The Use of Wicking to Distinguish Old Stamps Scott #158 versus #184 by Howard Relles

Top