1898 Trans-Mississippi Issue
'Western Cattle in Storm'
$1 - Black
Scott #292 - 1898
No postmark with gum (MH): $600-$1,100
Full perfect gum, no postmark, no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH): $1,700-$3,000
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). Brookman illustates a full sheet from a 1947 sale, although since that time there has been no trace of it and it has to be presumed that it was broken up.
Printer: The Bureau of Printing and Engraving
Watermark: Double lined USPS watermark.
What you should look for
The Inspiration for the Design
The inspiration for the design was a James McWhirter painting depicting cattle in a winter storm in the West Highlands of Scotland. This painting was copied, without the permission of the owner, Lord Blythswood, by an American Cattle Company as a sort of trademark. This said trademark came to the attention of the Bureau designers and it was adopted for the $1vignette design. Little did the designer know, at the time, that the scene depicted was in Scotland, not the Western US as was supposed. A full apology was issued to the owner of the painting.
For members of the Royal Philatelic Society a fine copy of this painting can be viewed hung over the mens urinal in the basement of their marble ediface in London. It's worth taking a pee for.
Considered by many, and myself, to be the most beautiful American stamp ever issued it occupies a special place in the hearts of most serious collectors.
In the early days of western expansion, the primary economic activity was cattle ranching, on the seemingly endless plains of the west, which were ideally suited for cattle. Bison were driven off and killed to the point of extinction. This bonanza was to end with 1) the onset of agriculture, where public land was being fenced off by those who wanted to grow crops and 2) the overgrazing of the avialable land that was left. Bankruptcy soon followed and the days of open cattle ranging were a memory of the old west.
Varieties to look for
The Essay's and Proofs