Benjamin Franklin (biography)

1¢ - Green
Triangles in Corner
Double line USPS wmk
Scott #279 - 1898

Used: a few cents
No postmark with gum (MH): $4-$6
Full perfect gum, no postmark, no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH): $5-$12


Issued: January 17th, 1898, earliest recorded example, January 31st 1898

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

Sheet of 100

Printer: The Bureau of Printing and Engraving

Watermark: USPS, double lined, see below

Quantity Issued: Five billion. It's a very common stamp.


The color was changed to green to conform with the Universal Postal Union Designation for the 1¢ value.

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

Around this time pre-canceled stamps appear, on this issue
they usually command a slight premium.

The Inspiration for the Design

The design was taken from the portrait bust of Benjamin Franklin by Jean Antoine Houdon. Now at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Previous versions of Franklins portrait on the 1¢ stamp had Franklin facing to the right. This, along with the pale blue color were the principle reasons that this design was disliked by the general public. The NY Times said that Franklin facing to the left 'entirely altered his expression and making him resemble a putty-faced personification of senility'.

Varieties to look for

There are no varities of #279

The Essay's and Proofs

Plate Proof produced for the 1915
Panama-Pacific Exhibition