1¢ - Deep blue, pale blue or blue
Scott #230


Used: $0.50
No postmark with gum (MH): $3-$8
Full perfect gum, no postmark, no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH): $8-$40


Issued: The 1¢ was officially issued on January, 1st 1893, a Sunday, and at Post Offices the following day. There are a couple of examples postmarked in New York, N.Y., on January 1st, 1893.

230 fdc
1¢ to 10¢ values on cover, all postmarked
January 1st, 1893 in New York, N.Y.

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

Half Pane of #230

Full Pane of #230

Printer: The American Bank Note Company, thereafter, with one exception of the Overun stamps of 1943 all stamps have since been printed by the Bureau of Engraving

Watermark: None

Quantity Issued: 449,195,550

Usage: Paid the 1¢ post card rate so therefore very common

Color: Deep blue, pale blue or blue. The railroad mail clerks complained that this new larger 1¢ stamp looked like the blue Special Delivery stamp, the latter’s color was changed to orange a few months after the Columbian’s introduction, so that it would not be confused with the UPU designated blue color for the 1¢ Columbian.

Common use: The stamp was primarily used to pay the one-cent-per-half-ounce third-class printed matter rate

Interesting Fact: The Columbian series was unpopular with the business community, not because of the design, but because of the large size.

What you should look for

As with all the values of this issue, look for Columbian Expo cancels, they increase the value of the stamp or cover.

Occasionally postmarks from states that had tiny amounts of mail in this year can add to the value. This is particularly true of Alaska and the Territories. For a list of the number of stamps issued by each state in the year ending 30th June 1894 click here.

Exposition cancel

The Inspiration for the Design

According to legend, disbelievers among the crew were finally convinced that Columbus was divinely inspired and fell to their knees in front of him. This legend was the inspiration of a painting created by George William Henry Powell (1823-1879). In the center of Powell’s painting stands a staunch, controlled Columbus among his elated and reverent men. It is believed that engravers crafted the 1¢ Columbus in Sight of Land stamp from Powell’s work. Of the 16 commemorative stamps issued in 1892 for the Chicago Exposition, this stamp departs the farthest from the original painting.

It is worth noting that Columbus is clean shaven whilst sighting land on this stamp, whilst the two cent value depicts Columbus during the landing sporting a full beard. This was the subject of much derision at the time of issue.

Varieties to look for

The stamps color ranges from blue to pale blue with little variation. Other than the occasional double entry there is only one major flaw to look for, that being the cracked plate.

#230 Cracked Plate Variety
(image donated by Steve Marczewski)

#230 A detail of Cracked Plate flaw
(image donated by Steve Marczewski)

The Essay's and Proofs

Silver print photo vignette mounted inside a watercolor drawing of the frame.
Stiff white paper. Contributed to Alfred S. Major.

230 US Stamp Plate Proof

230 P2
Small Die Proof on india paper

Plate Proof of on card (230-P4)


The Columbian Exposition - Inside the Transportation Building