The Value of the Stamp


Ulysses S Grant (biography)
5¢ - Deep chocolate, Yellow brown or Chocolate
Scott #255 - Un-watermarked - 1894

Value

Used: $1
No postmark with gum (MH): $14-$33
Full perfect gum, no postmark, no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH): $40-$120


Imperforate Horizontally
Scott #255c

Statistics

Issued: September 28th 1894, earliest recorded date of use, October 16th, 1894. Earliest recorded cover, October 23rd, 1894.

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

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

Watermark: None

Quantity Issued: 31,000,000. The number is great than the 3¢, 4¢ or 6¢ as the foreign mail rate at the time was 5¢.

What you should look for


Below is a typical example of the 1894 Bureau Issue, you will notice the blind perfs and rough appearance of the perforations. The machines for perforating the stamp had just been relocated from New York to Washington DC and did not have the old operators from the ABC, consequently the new operators took some time to get used to perforating the large sheets of 400 stamps. By the next issue, in 1895, they had got the practice down to a science, hence that issue has nice clean cut perforations. The untidy perforations of this issue does not detract from its value.

An unusual and valuable (retail about $500) item to look for on 255 covers is the handstamp seen below. The Spanish-American War was raging at the time and consequently mail to Spain or its Colonies was forbidden. It can be seen on other covers, however as the foreign mail rate was 5¢ most will be found on #255 covers.

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

Consesus on the subject of the design was difficult at the time. Originally it was to have been George Washington (see essays below), as he was already featured on the 2¢ design, it was decided to William Seward, Secretary of State during the Lincoln administration. However, as Ulysses S Grant, president and war hero, had recently deceased, the vote went to him.

Contrary to the paucity of photographs of Lincoln, Ulysses S Grant has over 300 photographs of him. Many of them whilst a Civil War General. The design was based off this photograph. Like Lincolns representation on #254 his hair treatment was given some artistic licence.


Varieties to look for

There are some imperfs, although it is debatable that these were issued as such, they are more likely to be small die plate proofs. Nevertheless, Scotts chooses to give them their own designation as an imperf, they can be found as Scotts #255a. It would seem, by recent auction prices that the philatalic world begs to differ with Scotts, recent auction prices for hinged examples are only $140.


Of more interest is this item, a vertical imperf (not blind perf) discovered recently on a registered cover of the period.

255v

Example of a vertical imperf (unique)



The Essay's and Proofs

#255 is different from the rest of the 1894 Bureau's in that its triangle is cut smaller, see the illustration below, where I have compared the size of a 2¢ 1894 triangle with the 5¢. Also, as shown below, there is an extra line between the white oval outer border above the words STATES and the edge of the design, as seen in the comparison between the 3¢ and 5¢ below.

255-E1
Large die essay on India
Affixed to card

255-E2
Large die essay on India
Affixed to card

255-E3
Composite Essay on India, cut close mounted on card.

The second subject for the design called for a portrait of William Seaward.
This was as close as he ever got to being on a postage
stamp. In the end he was selected for the Revenue stamp.

255-P1
Die Proof on India

255 P2 US Proof Postage Stamp

255 P2
Small Die Proof


255-TC1
Die Trial Color Proof on India