James Madison (biography)
$2 - Bright blue
Scott #277 - Double line USPS wmk - 1895


Used: $125-$275
No postmark with gum (MH): $300-$700
Full perfect gum, no postmark, no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH): $900-$2,500

$2 -Dark blue
Scott #277a - Double line USPS wmk - 1895

$2 -Dark blue
Scott #277b - Imperf - Double line USPS wmk - 1895

Facts and Statistics

Issued: Issued August 13th 1895, Earliest recorded date of use, July 18th, 1896.

Plate Size: Sheets of 200 subjects (2 panes of 100)

Printer: The Bureau of Printing and Engraving

Watermark: USPS, double lined, see below

Quantity Issued: 31,720.

#277 Specimen

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.

The Inspiration for the Design

The source for the design was based off the David Edwin's(?) engraving which based off Gilbert Stuart's portrait of James Madison, not the W.A. Wilmer engraving

Gilbert Stuart's portrait of James Madison
(Gilbert Stuart painted a total of four portraits of James Madison)
The painting is now owned by the Colonial Williamsburg Association

Detail of David Edwin's (?) engraving of Madison
circa. 1809-17
(the source for the design)

Full version of David Edwin's (?) engraving of Madison

W.A. Wilmers engraving of James Madison
(which was based off an Edwins print
copy of the engraving )

Gilbert Stuart
(who painted James Madison)

The Bureau of Engraving's later 19thC engraving of James Madison
which used Wilmers Engraving as the source.

Varieties to look for

There are no varieties of #277

The Essay's and Proofs

There are no proofs or essays of #277