1851 5¢ - #12
5¢ - Red brown or dark red brown
Imperf - Scott #12 - 1856
(only 50 MH copies survive)
Deduct 40% for pen cancels for three margins, deduct 40% of three margins,
60% for two margins and for no margins deduct 80%
(with 4 margins around the design)
No postmark with gum (MH): $6,250-$15,000
Full perfect gum, no postmark, no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH): Does not exist
Earliest Known Date of Use: March 24th, 1856
Plate Size: Sheets of 200 subjects (2 panes of 100).
Printer: Toppan, Carpenter, Casilier & Co. using the die-to-relief-to-plate transfer process.
Quantity Issued: 150,000
Use: Not issued until 1856 when the postal rate for a registered ½ oz letter abroad was 5¢. This was the "ship to shore" rate and was supposed to be paid by cash, however the use of stamp was common. As a result one wonders why the 5¢ stamp was ever issued, there being no obvious need for it.
A large portion of #12's on cover (of which only 350 exist) were addressed to Europe. Non-European destinations command a premium. Because most of the stamps were used in New Orleans it can be expected, due to New Orleans french heritage, that a large portion of the covers are addressed to France, so it follows that when the cover is addressed to European countries other than France, there is a slight premium.
The stamp was unevenly distributed to post offices, being issued just before the perforated variety in 1857. The overwhelming majority of the stock being sent to New Orleans, with a small amount being sent to Boston. Any postmark not showing these cities also commands a premium, as long as the postmark is legible. Grid postmarks also command a premium. Any domestic use of the 5¢ commands a premium as well. Because multiples of three were commonly used to pay the higher 15¢ foreign destination rate, they do not command as higher premium as one would expect.
What you should look for
#12 was printed on one plate only, plate one.
With only 150,000 stamps printed it is scarce and valuable, which makes it an excellent target, when the common #29 or #30A can have its perforations clipped to look like #12.
Sometimes a cut-down #30A is presented as a #12. It is easy to distinguish #30A, because #30A has the characteristics of a type II design. Type II designs have their top or bottom projections partialy cut away, #12 are complete. The forger will completely remove the top an bottom projections so that this distinguishable difference between the two will not be noticed. Ergo, do not purchase #12 when the FULL top or bottom projection is not visible. It is OK to have only one of the top or bottom projections complete, but not both missing.
It is not as easy to distinguish this stamp from the cut down #29. This is because #29 is also a type I and the only difference between #12 and #29 is in the color, #12 was printed in red-brown and #29 in brown.
The difference between the two colors can be subtle, therefore #12 requires a certificate before selling.
Most used copies of #12 have the New Orleans cancel, occasionaly others cancels such as Hartford, CN are found. There is a premium for non New Orleans cancels.
The Inspiration for the Design
Varieties to look for
THE WHITE CLOUD
The Essay's and Proofs
Unlike all the 1¢ and 3¢ issues of the 1851-56 series, the 5¢ has few examples of an essay.