'Mississippi River Bridge'
$2 - Orange brown or dark orange brown
Scott #293 - 1898

Used: $300-$550
No postmark with gum (MH): $750-$1,200
Full perfect gum, no postmark, no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH): $3,000-$4,500


Issued: Introduced on June 17th, 1890. Earliest documented use, June 24th 1898

Plate Size: Sheets of 100 subjects (2 panes of 50). Only distributed to large post offices such as NY and Philadelphia.

Printer: The Bureau of Printing and Engraving

Watermark: Double lined USPS watermark.

Quantity Issued: 25,000

What you should look for

Light cancels

The $2 was used mostly for heavy letters. As a result it rarely had the first class mail cancel, it is more likely it had a heavy killer cancel or registered stamp, and most $1 Trans-Mississippi stamps have a heavy cancel, the one below is nice and crisp and is more desirable.

292 Heavy Cancel Scotts - US Postage Stamps
A typical registry cancel

293 cover

293 cover Scotts - US Postage Stamps

Covers for #293 are scarce, even at the time, the stamp was primarily created to
extract money from Philatelists and there was a huge hue and cry from that
community as a result. It was not popular and few survive today.

The Inspiration for the Design

The inspiration for the design was crossing the Mississippi, which, during the great Western Emigration, was considered the barrier between the Eastern and the Western halves of the United States of America. The Eads Bridge was built in St Louis, MO, by local authorities to counteract the growth of Chicago as the gateway to the West. Fifteen workers died in its building, it was an expensive bridge, not just in terms of lives, it had the highest spans in the south and the bedrock for foundations was way down below the Mississippi mud. The extreme height of the spans was a concession wrought by the Steamboat Companies to ensure that the bridge provided them with enough clearance to pass underneath.

Within a year of the expensive Eads bridge was built the bridge went bust, there was simply not enough of a railroad network to keep it in the black.

292-design Scotts - US Postage Stamps
The design was lifted off the 1896 RNC Convention Ticket (see bridge on the left).
The bridge was featured despite the fact that it was a financial disaster.


292 - Eads Bridge Scotts - US Postage Stamps
An 1898 engraving of Eads Bridge, St Louis.

1898 Riverboat
St Louis was a steamboat city, it was fanciful to believe that a bridge
that required rail and vehicle traffic, could make money.

293 Postage Stamp River Boat

Riverboats at a Mississippi Landing

Varieties to look for

There are no varieties of #293

The Essay's and Proofs

296-E5 Essay Scotts - US Postage Stamps

Bi-Color Die Essay on card

293-E6 Essay US Stamps
Black Die Essay
Die Sunk on card

The original bi-color design (brown and green)
Die sunk on card
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. As can be seen the original design ended up
on the 2¢ of this issue as it was felt it would have a wider audience.


#293 E7
The original bi-color design (brown and black)
Die sunk on card

293-P1 Scotts - US Postage Stamps

Die proof on india
Die sunk on card

293P2 $2 Proof Scotts - US Postage Stamps

Small Die proof on card
Removed from gray backing

Specimen overprint