The 1898 Bureau Series
Watermarked Double Lined letters - USPS
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
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
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.
Consesus on the subject of the design was difficult at the time. Originally it was to have been George Washington,
as he was already featured on the 2¢ design, it was decided to William Seward, Secretary of State during the
Lincoln administration. However, as Ulysses S Grant, president and war hero, had recently deceased, the vote went to him.
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.
Large die proof on india, which should be die sunk on card
(but in this case it fell off)
Roosevelt small die plate proof
Plate Proof produced for the 1915