The 1890 Series
Thomas Jefferson (biography)
30¢ - Full black, black or gray black
Scott #228 - 1890
No postmark with gum (MH): $40-$125
Full perfect gum, no postmark, no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH): $225-$375
Issued: Introduced on February 22nd, 1890. The earliest recorded example is 14th April, 1890.
Plate Size: Sheets of 200 subjects (2 panes of 100)
Printer: The American Bank Note Company
What you should look for
Plate blocks and any multiple greater than four are very scarce, more so in mint condition.
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.
The Inspiration for the Design
The 1890 30¢ design is essentialy a reworked design of the Jefferson bust that appears on the 1870 10¢.
The original 1870 design of Jefferson was based, loosely on Houdon's bust of Jefferson. Unlike any other representation of Jefferson the bust had bare shoulders.
Shown below is a version, that very nearly made it as the default Jefferson bust to be used. Next to it is one of the many essays of the final 1870 version.
Below is shown the 1870 10¢, note the similar bust used as in the 1894 50¢ vignette. The 1870 rendition of the bust was criticized in that it was said that Jefferson was appearing to be falling asleep or nodding off. This was corrected in the 1894 design, the vignette was tilted a tad to the right and the eyes reworked, the whole effect being one 'wide-awake' third president of the United States.
The resemblance between Houdon's bust of Thomas Jefferson and this rendition is quite marked.
Varieties to look for
The Essay's and Proofs