The 1895 Bureau Series
Watermarked Double Lined letters - USPS
Abraham Lincoln (biography)
4¢ - Dark brown or dark yellow brown
Triangles in Corners
Scott #269 - Double line USPS wmk - 1895
No postmark with gum (MH): $10-$30
Full perfect gum, no postmark, no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH): $30-$45
Issued: June 5th 1895, earliest recorded date of use, July 22nd, 1895, shown below.
Plate Size: Sheets of 400 subjects (4 panes of 100)
Printer: The Bureau of Printing and Engraving, their first contract
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 this photograph of Abraham Lincoln. An excellent collection of the photographs of 'Old Abe' can be found here. This photo was taken before his presidency, whilst a Senator in Springfield Illinois. It was taken on February 9th 1860 at Brady's gallery in Washington DC
Curiously ABC co. did not use their master die for Lincoln, also shown below. Whilst the design was better at capturing the expression on Lincolns face, the hair treatmen was a dramatic departure.
Varieties to look for
There are some imperfs, although it is debatable that these were issued as such, they are more likely to be finished plate proofs. Nevertheless, Scotts chooses to give them their own designation as an imperf, they can be found as Scotts #269a. It would seem, by recent auction prices that the philatalic world begs to differ with Scotts, recent auction prices for hinged examples are only $150.
Although it was strictly against P.O. regulations to bisect stamps, the postmaster of this rural New York post office had run out of 1¢ and 2¢ stamps and went ahead and split a 4¢ stamp. Only two covers are know, both of which are shown above.
The Essay's and Proofs
As mentioned above #269a are probably finished plate proofs