Ulysses S Grant (biography)
5¢ - Dull brown or claret brown
Scott #270 - Double line USPS wmk. - 1895


Used: $0.50
No postmark with gum (MH): $6-$24
Full perfect gum, no postmark, no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH): $30-$55


Issued: June 11th, 1895, earliest recorded date of use, September 12th, 1895.

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

Printer: The Bureau of Printing and Engraving

Watermark: USPS, double lined, see below

Quantity Issued: 120,000,000. The number is great than the 3¢, 4¢ or 6¢ as the foreign mail rate at the time was 5¢.


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
Remember, the letters have to be double lined. If single
lined then go here to identify your stamp

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.

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.

The Inspiration for the Design

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.

Unadopted Vignette for #270

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 #270a. It would seem, by recent auction prices that the philatalic world begs to differ with Scotts, recent auction prices for MNH hinged pairs are only $145.

270 SO
UPU overprint
MH value - $150

The Essay's and Proofs

270 P1 Proof United States Postage Stamps
Plate Proof on stamp paper