The 1894 Bureau Series
Henry Clay (biography)
15¢ - Dark blue or Indigo
Scott #259 - Un-watermarked - 1894
No postmark with gum (MH): $50-$150
Full perfect gum, no postmark, no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH): $400-$600
Facts and Statistics
Issued: Issued October 15th 1894, Earliest recorded date of use, December 6th, 1894.
Plate Size: Sheets of 400 subjects (4 panes of 100)
Printer: The Bureau of Printing and Engraving, their first contract
Quantity Issued: 1,583,920. The stamp paid the foreign registered rate so expect to see a lot of oval registered cancels. An example of which is shown below.
What you should look for
Brookman claims that #259 can be found with a top margin, I have yet to see one, and a search of auction records has not revealed a single example. As far as I am aware the Bureau delivered the sheets of these without a top margin. If anyone knows of an example with a top margin please let me know
One effect of this is that there are only half as many plate number examples of this, therefore, they command a price premium.
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.
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 source for the design Brookman attributes to the famous daguerreotype of Henry Clay. This would be incorrect as their is little, if no, resemblence. It is more likely that it copied from a print which used as its source a later photograph of Henry Clay.
The source of the design (above) and the design (below)
The source photograph (below) for the print above
Shown below is the famous, and only daguerreotype of Henry Clay
Varieties to look for
The Essay's and Proofs