The 1895 Bureau Series
Watermarked Double Lined letters - USPS
General Tecumseh Sherman (biography)
8¢ - Violet brown or dark violet brown
Scott #272 - Double line USPS wmk - 1895
No postmark with gum (MH): $11-$30
Full perfect gum, no postmark, no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH): $40-$70
8¢ - Dark violet brown
Scott #272a - USIR watermark - 1895
60-70 copies exist
Facts and Statistics
Issued: Issued July 22nd 1895, Earliest recorded date of use, September 11th, 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: 96,000,000.
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
Expect to see a lot of heavy cancels on this as it was the registered rate and registered cancels are typically heavy. Below left is a typical oval registry cancel (Chicago) and below right the same from New York.
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 source photograph of General William Tecumseh Sherman is shown below.
Varieties to look for
There were a few sheets incorrectly printed with the USIR (internal revenue) watermark. If you see the letter I or R in the watermark then you have #272a, the value of which is indicated above.
The Essay's and Proofs
There are a couple of plate proof sheets, these are #272P