George Washington (biography)
2¢ - Dark carmine
No caps on twos (see note below)
Scott #220 - 1890


Used: no value
No postmark with gum (MH): $4-$10
Full perfect gum, no postmark, no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH): $15-$45

2¢ - Carmine, dark carmine (shown) or carmine rose
Cap on left "2" (see note below)
Scott #220a - 1890

A rare example of a plate block of #220a
Photo courtesy of Matthew Bennett International
© All rights reserved by Matthew Bennett International


2¢ - Carmine
Cap on right "2"
Scott #220b - 1890
see certificate below

2¢ - Carmine, dark carmine or carmine rose
Cap on both "2's" (see note below)
Scott #220c - 1890

2¢ - Carmine, dark carmine or carmine rose
Scott #220d - 1890

Retail value of $30 ea.


Issued: 12th May 1890, earliest recorded example is also of this date.

Plate Size: Sheets of 400 subjects (4 panes of 100)

A complete pane of 100

Printer: The American Bank Note Company

Watermark: None

Quantity Issued: 6 billion

What you should look for


On top of the numeral two there is a horizontal extension, or line, commonly known as the cap. An example is shown above. To properly identify the stamp one should look for these caps. With these caps in mind one can now identify which variety of #220 you have.

No caps on either number 2 = #220
Cap on the left number 2 = #220a
Cap on the right number 2 = #220b
Caps on both number 2's = $220¢

Should you find a pair or block with both #220a and #220¢ you have found a very scarce item. There are examples of caps on the right numeral 2 only, however this is the result of an inking flaw, not a plate flaw.

220b is unique.

The color of this stamp was changed from the lake of #219D to carmine, as a result of complaints about the lake color.

Without knowing it, the 1890 series was to be the American Bank Note Company's (ABN Co.) last printing of postage stamps. Until the flag overun series of the forties all stamps after this series were to be printed by the Bureau of printing and engraving.

On the left is shown the detail of a stamp from the 1890 series, note the absence of a triangle in the top left hand corner of the design. All the Bureau issues had a triangle cut into the design as shown on the right.

You will also notice the tremendous difference in quality between the two stamps. By 1890 the ABN Co. had perfected the art of printing postage stamps and it shows by the even ink sharp design and clean perforations. Contrast this with the spotty faded ink and uneven perforations on the Bureau's stamp on the right.

Around this time the artwork on advertising covers reached its
zenith. Well executed examples such as the cover shown above
command high prices. (Fall 2009, Heritage Auctions - $1,150)

The Inspiration for the Design

The design was taken from the portrait bust of Washington by Jean Antoine Houdon. Now at Mount Vernon.

Varieties to look for

Other than the cap on the two variety mentioned above, there are no known varieties. . It is worth examining the certificate below for the 220 variety with cap on the right.

220 variety cert Scotts - US Postage Stamps

The Essay's and Proofs

Large Die Essay on India
die sunk on card

Die Essay on India
Red Orange

220-p3 Scotts - US Postage Stamps

plate proof on India

Plate Proof