1898 Trans-Mississippi Issue
(John) Frémont on Rocky Mountains
5¢ - Dull blue or bright blue
Scott #288 - 1898
No postmark with gum (MH): $20-$50
Full perfect gum, no postmark, no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH): $70-$200
Issued: Introduced on June 17th, 1890. Earliest documented use, a first day cover from June 17th 1898
Plate Size: Sheets of 100 subjects (2 panes of 50)
Printer: The Bureau of Printing and Engraving
Watermark: Double lined USPS watermark.
What you should look for
The Inspiration for the Design
The Dept. of Bureau and Engraving were determined to depict Frémont in the Rocky Mountains on one of the Trans-Mississippi stamps, nobody knows why. Of course John Frémont was delighted at the prospect and sent the department a bunch of photos of himself. These were politely declined. The engravers had to resort to the only three renditions of Frémont in the Rocky Mountains. The first was a John Frémont campaign poster and the next from a biography and the other was from a Scholastic Text Book
The Frémont Campaign Poster of 1856
An engraving from the biography
John Bigelow's woodcut in Scholastic's 'Memoir of the Life and Public Services
The campaign poster (above) shows a bearded trapper and a Mexican waving at the Colonel. On the stamp design this was changed to a soldier and a frontiersman. The original can be found in the Library of Congress. The idea for the background mountains came from the Bigelow woodcut, also shown above, you will see that the stamp design shows the position of the flag and Frémont reversed. The design for the top of the mountain mimics the illustration from the biography (middle picture above).
Varieties to look for
The Essay's and Proofs
The most popular attraction of the exhibition turned out to be
the first Americans. Here you can see a picture of Ogala Lakota outside
a Tipi in the Exposition grounds. That the Lakota were offended by
photographs take of them was not a consideration, this was the
closest that most of the visitors got to an heathen' or 'savage'.