Ulysses S Grant (biography)
5¢ - Dark blue, bright blue or blue
Double line USPS wmk. - Scott #281 - 1897

Used: Just a few cents
No postmark with gum (MH): $5-$12
Full perfect gum, no postmark, no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH): $20-$45


Issued: March 8th, 1898, earliest recorded date of use, March 19th, 1898.

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: 280,000,000, twice the amount of the brown 5¢.


The color was changed from the brown of #270 to blue to conform to UPU regulations.

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

Shown above is a typical heavy registry cancel, 5¢ was the
rate for registered letters at the time. Stamps
with a light cancel are more desirable.

Porto Rico Cover canceled with Steamship cancel

The 5¢ stamp is less interesting as a stamp than on cover. This issue has one of the most fascinating and varied amount of uses. I have not seen a #281 collection yet, although I am sure one exists. Becuase this was the time of the Spanish American War you will see a variety of associated cancels, some even with Spanish devices. You will also see Shanghai covers and covers to some unusual destinations.

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.

Varieties to look for

There are no varieties of #281

The Essay's and Proofs

Plate Proof produced for the 1915
Panama-Pacific Exhibition