2¢ - Brown violet, gray violet or dark brown violet
Scott #231 -1893


Used: $0.25
No postmark with gum (MH): $2-$6
Full perfect gum, no postmark, no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH): $6-$25

Triple values if broken hat variety below. Used broken hat = $1


Issued: The 2¢ 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 (see image below).

Plate Size: Sheets of 200 subjects (2 panes of 100) and, because the ABNC company ran out of the plates an additional 45 plates were made in sheets of 100 (2 panes of 50).

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: 1,464,588,750

Color: Brown violet, gray violet or dark brown violet.

Usage:The stamp paid the domestic letter rate making it the most commonly used Columbian value.

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.

The Inspiration for the Design

The design originated from a painting titled ‘Columbus Landing at Guanahani’ by John Vanderlyn. Now located inside the Rotunda of the Washington Capitol Building.

It is worth noting that Columbus is clean shaven whilst sighting land on the one cent stamp, whilst this 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 'Broken Hat' variety

The best known variety of the Columbian series is the “broken hat”, it´s probably the result of a small crack caused by a weakening of the metal on the transfer roll. The image below right illustrates the flaw.


2¢ - Brown violet, gray violet or dark brown violet
Broken hat Variety - image shows broken hat area
Scott #231 var


The “broken frame line” was also caused by a defective transfer roll and occurs near the base outer right vertical frame line and extends for about one-eighth of an inch. Another small transfer break, which is known in two different stages, occurs on the botton line in the lower right corner of the 2¢ stamp.


2¢ - Brown violet
1 sheet of 50 issued - Scott #231b Imperf - 1893
Auction price - $4,000
Created from printers waste.

There are some minor varieties that can be found, an example of which is shown below.


The Essay's and Proofs

Despite the popularity of the Columbian series there are very few essays and proofs on the market.

Essay of the 2¢ (231-E7b)