The 1895 Bureau Series
Watermarked Double Lined letters - USPS
Andrew Jackson (biography)
3¢ - Dark purple or purple
Triangles in Corners
Scott #268 - Double line USPS wmk. - 1895
No postmark with gum (MH): $6-$15
Full perfect gum, no postmark, no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH): $15-$28
Issued: October 31st, 1895, earliest recorded date of use, October 20th, 1894. Earliest recorded cover, January 31st 1896
Plate Size: Sheets of 400 subjects (4 panes of 100)
Printer: The Bureau of Printing and Engraving
Watermark: USPS, double lined, see below
DETAILED FACTS AND FIGURES
The Post Office report from 1899 supplies one with almost every detail you would wish to know about this stamp, and every other stamp in this series. The level of detail is amazing. Click here for more on this report
What you should look for
The stamps were watermarked USPS and part of one of the three letters will be visible (sometimes barely so) when immersing the stamp in watermark fluid using a simple black watermark tray. By the way, you really have to believe you have got a valuable stamp before investing the $20 it costs to buy the afore mentioned items. You could use the cheaper alternative, Ronosol Lighter fluid, however, unlike watermark fluid, it is highly inflammable and dangerous to use, plus it stinks the house up.
Look for part of one of the above letters in the watermark
This was the first instance of the Bureau applying a watermark, it was applied to make counterfeiting more difficult. It is not known if the Bureau had anticipated the Chicago Counterfeits or added the watermark because of them. The story of the Chicago Counterfeit can be found on the page for Scotts #248.
The Inspiration for the Design
The design was taken from the portrait bust of Andrew Jackson by Hiram Powers. Now at Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
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. The imperf is sometimes referred to as Scotts #267a.
The value for MNH is around $120 for a pair.
The Essay's and Proofs
As mentioned directly above there is an imperf pair, fairly common which are in all likelihood finished plate proofs.