Benjamin Franklin (biography)

1¢ - Bright ultramarine, Bright Ultramarine or Dark Ultramarine
Triangles in Corner
Scott #246 - 1894


Used: $0.25
No postmark with gum (MH): $6-$9
Full perfect gum, no postmark, no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH): $12-$22


Issued: 10th October 1894, earliest recorded example 17th October 1894 (shown below)

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

Printer: The Bureau of Printing and Engraving, their first contract

Watermark: None

Quantity Issued: 67,000,000

What you should look for

As this was the Bureau of Printing and Engraving contract a small triangle was cut into the design at top left and top right. This distinguishes it from the earlier 1890. As this was the Bureau's first attempt at printing their is quite a bit of color variation. The stamp is almost instantly reconizable by its color, a color that would not take well on Washington DC's humid days, so the color was changed from the Ultramarine you see above to a more easily handled blue, Scotts #247.

Above is an example of the aforementioned
color variation. In this case a bright pastel blue.

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 was taken from the portrait bust of Benjamin Franklin by Jean Antoine Houdon. Now at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Previous versions of Franklins portrait on the 1¢ stamp had Franklin facing to the right. This, along with the pale blue color were the principle reasons that this design was disliked by the general public. The NY Times said that Franklin facing to the left 'entirely altered his expression and making him resemble a putty-faced personification of senility'.

Varieties to look for

The stamps ranges from bright ultramarine to dark ultramarine, due to the difficulty in printing this color you may see color variations with the stamp stamp. Other than the occasional double entry there is little to look for.

The Essay's and Proofs

246 E2
Essay on India paper

246 P4

246 P4
Plate Proof on White Card Stock