1898 Trans-Mississippi Issue
Farming in the West
2¢ - Copper red, brown red or light brown red
Scott #286 - 1898
No postmark with gum (MH): $2-$9
Full perfect gum, no postmark, no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH): $9-$24
Introduced on June 17th, 1890. Earliest documented use,
a first day cover from June 17th 1898 (an example shown below)
Sheets of 100 subjects (2 panes of 50)
A full pane of #286
The Bureau of Printing and Engraving
Double lined USPS watermark.
160,000,000, a very common stamp
What you should look for
Plate numbers 672-3, 675 and 679 are particularly worn, so much
so that distinguishing the front men from the rear men becomes difficult.
These are interesting examples but do not add to the value of the stamp.
#286 Worn Plate Example
The Inspiration for the Design
The original photograph
The original photograph in greater detail
The source for this design has one of the most interesting stories in US Philately.
The design was intended for use on the $2 Trans-Missippippi, however as this scene was so
representative of the West at the time it was decided to use this on the wider circulation of the 2¢.
The photograph from which the design was made was taken a few miles from the town
of Amenia, North Dakota. The men depicted in the photograph are the first living
men to be shown on a postage stamp.
Amenia, North Dakota today, still a windswept town.
It was taken in 1893 on the Amenia & Sharon Land Company's Fargo, North Dakota 'bonanza farm'.
A line of plows drawn by mule teams going into the distance, are apparently plowing a
stubble field. In the foreground, Ed Nybakken is seated on a two-bottom plow drawn by
four mules. His hand is in the air, touching the brim of his hat, and blocking his face.
Behind him seated in a two-wheel buggy with a dog beside him, is field boss Elihu Barber.
Behind Barber is foreman Sam White. He is standing in a buggy hitched to two horses, and
is looking away from the camera. Ed for years bemoaned the puff of the wind that hid his
face from the camera, on the other hand the firm, very proud of the stamp, purchased thousands
and used them on their mail well into the 20th century.
A second man has been identified in the stamp, click here to read the story (PDF).
Many thanks to Steve DeLance for his research on this.
The team photographed included 61 horses and their drivers,
many farmers, on seeing this stamp, were incredulous as to the amount of equipment,
however this was the practice of the bonanza farms of North Dakota.
It was hoped that the stamp would attract the business of agriculture to the west.
The Amenia & Sharon Farming Company, an early photograph.
The Essay's and Proofs
The original bi-color design.
The bi-color design had to be dropped as the bi-color printing process
was taxed to the max printing revenue stamps for the Spanish-American
war that had broken out. You will notice the vignette is the same as in
the $2 value (#293). This was swapped with the 2¢ design at the last
moment, as the 2¢ design would have the wider circulation and the
western farming issue would be more representative.
The frame essay on card
Large die essay on india
Die sunk on card
Small die essay on india
Die sunk on card
Die essay on india
Die sunk on card
Plate Proof on Card Stock
Trial Color Proof
Ariel view of the Trans-Mississippi Exibition - Omaha NB.