John Marshall (biography)
$5 - Dark Green
Scott #278 - Double line USPS wmk - 1895


Used: $190-$475
No postmark with gum (MH): $600-$1,700
Full perfect gum, no postmark, no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH): $7,500-$11,000

$5 - Dark Green
Scott #278b - Imperf - Double line USPS wmk - 1895
100 copies issued

Facts and Statistics

Issued: Issued August 16th 1895, Earliest recorded date of use, March 3rd, 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: 29,965

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

The largest multiple of #278 known

What you should look for

Centering is better on this stamp than #262, the 1894 $2. Cancels tend to be heavy as they were often used on 2nd and 3rd class mail and registered mail.

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 Henry Inmans 1831-32 portrait. The portrait is owned by the Philadelphia Bar Association. Shown below is an engraving of the portrait and the actual portrait.


Varieties to look for

There are no varieties of #278

The Essay's and Proofs

There are no proofs or essays of #278