The value of the stamps Statistics and facts about the stamp
what you should look for how the stamp was made
Varieties of the stamp the making of the stamp

The Value of the Stamp


(John) Frémont on Rocky Mountains
5¢ - Dull blue or bright blue
Scott #288 - 1898

Value
Used: $1-$10
No postmark with gum (MH): $20-$50
Full perfect gum, no postmark, no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH): $70-$200

Statistics

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)

288 Full Pane - Scotts - US Postage Stamps
A full pane of #288

Printer: The Bureau of Printing and Engraving

Watermark: Double lined USPS watermark.

Quantity Issued: 7,694,180 (however a large amount were recalled). It is quite common being used for the first class rate to Europe.


What you should look for

REGISTERED CANCELS
The registered rate for mail at the time was 5¢, and as a result a good number of these stamps have the registered cancel on them, a typical example is shown below. This does not detract from the value, unless, of course, the strike of the cancel is heavy, which they often can be.

288 Registered Cancel - Scotts - US Postage Stamps
A typical registered cancel of the time

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
(one of the three sources of the design)

John Fremont Planting the Flag - Scotts - US Postage Stamps

An engraving from the biography
'The Young American's Life of Frémont' by F.C. Woodworth
(one of the three sources of the design)

Fremont with Flag

John Bigelow's woodcut in Scholastic's 'Memoir of the Life and Public Services
of John Charles Frémont, the third source for the design.

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).

Fremont

Varieties to look for


There is a somewhat scarce Light Blue color variety to look out for, I cannot find any auction records of one being sold. Brookman refers to them and the only example I have seen, that remotely looked like this color, was a torn up copy sold on ebay.

288 Light Blue Scotts - US Postage Stamps
#288 Light Blue(?)

The Essay's and Proofs


This design was originally planned for the 8¢ value, then the 2¢ value, before deciding on the 5¢ value.

287-E3 United States Postage Stamps

#287 E2
Large Die Essay on India
Die sunk on card

286-E5 Scotts - US Postage Stamps

#288 E5
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.

288 P1 Scotts - US Postage Stamps

#288 P1
Dull blue die proof pulled on india
paper and die sunk on card blotter

Ogala Lakota Scotts - US Postage Stamps
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'.