1857 US Postage Stamps 1857 Scotts - US Postage Stamps 1857 Scotts - US Postage Stamps 1857 Scotts - US Postage Stamps 1857 Scotts - US Postage Stamps 1857 Scotts - US Postage Stamps 1857 Scotts - US Postage Stamps 1857 Scotts - US Postage Stamps 1857 Scotts - US Postage Stamps 1857 US Postage Stamp Essays

1857 1¢ - #20

1¢ - Blue - Type II
The design is complete at the sides and top
but slightly incomplete at bottom.

Perf. 15½ - Scott #20 - 1851


(with 4 margins around the design)
Used: $60-$105
No postmark with gum (MH): $750-$1,400
Full perfect gum, no postmark, no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH): $4,250-$4500


Earliest date of use: July 27th, 1857

Plate Size: Sheets of 200 subjects (2 panes of 100).

pane of 1857 1¢ Franklin
A full pane of 100

Printer: Toppan, Carpenter, Casilier & Co. using the die-to-relief-to-plate transfer process.

Watermark: None

Quantity Issued: not known

Use: The one-cent stamp was required to pay the fee for drop letters and circulars under 500 miles. It was also the rate for newspapers and circulars.

What you should look for

Identifying #20
(#20 is a Type II)

18 US stamps

#20 can be found on plate's 1 (late), 2, 4, 11 and 12. There is only one instance of a this type II on plate 1 (late), that being position 4R1L. The opposite is true for plate 2 which is all type two except two positions, positions 99R2 (type III and part of the big crack) and 100R2 (type IIIa). Plates 4 and 11 had twenty positions and plate 12 had 101 positions.

Notes on #20

1) It is the earliest stamp to appear on the patriotic cover
2) The big crack (see below) is much less common in than in #7
3) The finest examples of type II can be found from the top row of plate 4. These have a break in the outer line at the bottom.
4) Plate II has numerous double transfers, one of which is inverted (71L IE) and one triple transfer with one of these being inverted (positions 81L IL and 91L IE). Position 7R IE has the most prominent double transfer, followed by 65R IE and then 22R IE.
5) The stamp is uncommon in blocks.
6) For some reason imprint copies are rare on #20.
7) Plates 11 and 12 used new transfer rolls and had a nearly complete design, there was no trimming involved. Margins are tight on these two plates. These two plates also used two three relief transfer roll, rather than the previous six relief transfer roll. Relief T can be found on the top row of plate 11.
8) Plate 11 stamps are scarce, the plate was only in use for six months.
9) Plates 11 and 12 were printed by the American Bank Note company.

For a really excellent guide to this issue click here.

How many plates were there?

There were twelve plates of the 1¢ Franklin made, plate six was never used, probably due to it being damaged in it's creation. Most of the plates were used for both the imperforate and perforated design. Some only produced one type or the other. For instance, plate 12 produced only perforated stamps and the early state of Plate 1 produced only imperforate stamps.

20 with plate number - US stamps

#20 showing the plate number (12) in the margin.

Nathan K Hall, Postmaster General

Nathan K. Hall
Postmaster General


The Inspiration for the Design

City Of Alpena
Benjamin Franklin
Jean-Jacques Caffieri (1725-1792)
Marble, 25" high
The Peabody Collection, Maryland

The design was based off Jean-Jacques Caffieri's bust of Franklin.

Varieties to look for


7 big crack - US postage stamps
Showing a crack in plate II
Positions 2L, 12L, 13L and 23L
Caused by an integral flaw in the steel plate
Later printings show the crack extending to the fourth


7 big crack - US postage stamps
Position 89R2 has, what looks to be like, a re-entry. Although in the strict sense of the word, it is not a re-entry or double transfer. It is more probably an error as the lower part of the (under the words ONE CENT) was made to correct an existing error. See Neinken.


7 big crack - US postage stamps

#20 is replete with double transfers or re-entries, the most obvious being shown above. Another one to look for is position 74R12 from plate II. This has a striking example of a double frame line, seen above the letters U.S. POSTAGE.

The Essay's and Proofs

franklin vignette
Vignette of Ben Franklin
Imperf essay on laid india paper

Unlisted 1¢ Liberty
Black, Vignette Die Essay on Proof paper
frame similar to 5¢ Jefferson
Probably attributable to Toppan, Carpenter, Casilier and Co.

Black, Vignette Die Essay on India

Black, Vignette Die Essay on India
Unlisted showing both Franklin and Washington

Black, Vignette Die Essay on Proof Paper

Black, Vignettes Die Essay on Proof Paper

6¢ Black
Die Essay on India

How the perforated stamp came to us

Prince Consort Essay
The Prince Consort essay

When Rowland Hill designed the worlds first postage stamp, the penny black, no provision was made for separating the stamps. in 1847, six years after the introduction of the first stamp, Henry Archer submitted a two seperating machines to the British postmaster general. These machines employed lancet shaped blades, however their effect, was mixed at best. Soon after Mr Archer patented a machine which used perforation as a means of seperation, his first trials with this machine were on the Prince Consort essay, an example is seen above. The Prince Consort was Prince Albert, the design was never approved.

1853 revenue stamp
1853 One penny receipt stamp
Worlds first perforated stamp

Prince Consort Essay
1854 Penny Red
Worlds first perforated postage stamp

In October 1853 the first perforated stamps were issued in the UK using new perforating machines built by David Napier and Son Ltd, they were revenue stamps The first perforated stamps were revenue stamps issued in October 1853.

Aaron Brown

Aaron Brown, Postmaster-General 1857-59

In 1857 the new postmaster general was determined to introduce the perforation of postage stamps to the US. Perforating machines, at the cost of $3,000 were acquired by Toppan Carpenter, along with $6,000 in new plates. The machines were from England, but not from Napier, they purchased rouletting machines from William Bemrose & Sons of Derby, converting them to perforating machines. One problem is that these new machines could accommodate a relatively narrow sheet, which explains why the stamps of the 1857 series are spaced so close together. The first stamps to be perforated were the thirty cent, twenty four cent and ninety cent values.

1857 US Postage Stamps 1857 Scotts - US Postage Stamps 1857 Scotts - US Postage Stamps 1857 Scotts - US Postage Stamps 1857 Scotts - US Postage Stamps 1857 Scotts - US Postage Stamps 1857 Scotts - US Postage Stamps 1857 Scotts - US Postage Stamps 1857 Scotts - US Postage Stamps 1857 US Postage Stamp Essays