1857 US Postage Stamps

1860 90¢ - #39

90¢ - Blue or deep blue
25,000 - Perf. 15½ - Scott #39 - 1860
Beware of forged cancels (certificate required)
$350-$400 with forged cancel
Only 180 used examples exist, of which approx. 40 are sound.


Used: $8,000-$13,500
No postmark with gum (MH): $800-$1,100
Full perfect gum, no postmark, no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH): $40,000-$70,000

90¢ - Blue
Imperf - Scott #39a - 1860
(issued with no gum)


Earliest known use: September 11, 1860. T

Plate Size: Sheets of 200 subjects (2 panes of 100).

Printer: Toppan, Carpenter & Co., using the flat plate process.

Watermark: None

Quantity Issued: 24,280. Interestingly these were issued mostly in the first few months of its issue. The quarterly breakdown for 1860/61 is a follows.

Quarter ending/Number issued
Sep 30, 1860 / 11,960
Dec 31, 1860 / 6,200
Mar 31, 1861 / 4,110
June 30, 18620 / 2,010

There are no records for its final month of issue, July 1861, one can presume there were few issued. This pattern is unique to the 90c, all other values were almost evenly distributed over the quarters.

Color: Blue or deep blue

39 cover
The 'Armitage' cover, a very rare example of #39 used on cover

39 multiple
A rare multiple of #39

Fake Cancellations

Almost all cancellations on this issue are counterfeit.

A 90¢ stamp was hardly ever used (only 180 certified used examples remain), on occasion it was used for courthouse documents, most often it was used in combination with other stamps to pay a higher rate, usually to a foreign destination. It was also only used for one year, according to Ashbrook the EDU was is 9/11/60, it was demonetized by in 1861 and was replaced by Scott #73.

The following cancellations stand a chance of being genuine

- Boston circular datestamp (blue)- mostly used on mail to Great Britain
- Boston large paid grid cancel (black)- mostly used on mail to Great Britain
- New Haven circle of diamonds (red)- mostly used on mail to Great Britain
- Philadelphia circular datestamp (blue)- mostly used on mail to Germany and Great Britain
- NYC grid (red)- mostly used on mail to Great Britain
- New Orleans Circular datestamp (black or blue) - mostly used on mail to France
- Baltimore circular datestamp (blue)
Washington DC circular datestamp (blue)- scarce

There are a couple of town cancels from Virginia, however these are unique and well recorded.

There are five recorded 90¢ 1860 usages abroad:

1. Sep 11, 1860, single franking paying double the 45¢ rate to Augustine, Heard, & Co. in Shanghai, China, stamp with sealed tears; ex-Gibson, Hindes, Kapiloff.

2. Nov 3, 1860, single with 5¢ and 10¢ paying five-times the 21¢ rate to a commercial firm in Barcelona, Spain; ex-Caspary, Rust, Kapiloff.

3. Nov 9, 1860, single with 3¢, 5¢, 10¢, and 30¢ pair paying the $1.68 rate to Augustine, Heard, & Co. in Shanghai, China, 90¢ reperfed on all sides; ex-Needham, Paliafito, Ishikawa, Myers.

4. Jan 26, 1861, single with 12¢ and 30¢ shortpaying the four-times $1.62 rate via Marseilles to Mackellop, Stewart, & Co. in Calcutta, India; ex-Armitage, Lapham, Dick

5. Jul 16, 1861, single with 1¢ pair, 3¢, 10¢, and 30¢ paying four-times the 33¢ rate to Edwin Howland in Cape of Good Hope, filing crease through 90¢; ex-Jacobs, Emerson, Newbury, Ishikawa.

Lastly, this stamp was most commonly canceled by pen, which takes 2/3rds of the value off. And only about one quarter of the used copies are sound.

#39 Forgery

A forged cancellation

The Inspiration for the Design

washington - lambdin
Source of design
George Washington
James Reid Lambdin (1807-1889)
Oil on canvas
Currently at Mount Vernon

Although Brookman and many other philatelic source quote the source of the image as being the John Trumbull portrait of George Washington, I highly doubt this to be case. Lambdin painted the portrait, shown above, in 1854 based on the ealire Trumball portrait. For reference the Trumbull portrait and a detail of the portrait on the stamp are shown below.

The Essay's and Proofs

39 Essay
without value

Die Proof mounted on card
Roosevelt Album

Plate Proof

39 Proof
Overprinted SPECIMEN

39 Die Proof
on Aqua paper

39 TC1
Trial Color Proof

39 TC5
Trial Color Proof

Earliest Known Use

January 26th 1861

'The Armitage Cover'

Rare Multiple

How the perforated stamp came to us

Prince Consort Essay
The Prince Consort essay

When Rowland Hill designed the worlds first postage stamp, the penny black, no provision was made for separating the stamps. in 1847, six years after the introduction of the first stamp, Henry Archer submitted a two seperating machines to the British postmaster general. These machines employed lancet shaped blades, however their effect, was mixed at best. Soon after Mr Archer patented a machine which used perforation as a means of seperation, his first trials with this machine were on the Prince Consort essay, an example is seen above. The Prince Consort was Prince Albert, the design was never approved.

1853 revenue stamp
1853 One penny receipt stamp
Worlds first perforated stamp

Prince Consort Essay
1854 Penny Red
Worlds first perforated postage stamp

In October 1853 the first perforated stamps were issued in the UK using new perforating machines built by David Napier and Son Ltd, they were revenue stamps The first perforated stamps were revenue stamps issued in October 1853.

Aaron Brown

Aaron Brown, Postmaster-General 1857-59

In 1857 the new postmaster general was determined to introduce the perforation of postage stamps to the US. Perforating machines, at the cost of $3,000 were acquired by Toppan Carpenter, along with $6,000 in new plates. The machines were from England, but not from Napier, they purchased rouletting machines from William Bemrose & Sons of Derby, converting them to perforating machines. One problem is that these new machines could accommodate a relatively narrow sheet, which explains why the stamps of the 1857 series are spaced so close together. The first stamps to be perforated were the thirty cent, twenty four cent and ninety cent values.

1857 US Postage Stamps