1861 US Postage Stamps

1861 Pigeon Blood Pink 2¢ - #64a

3¢ - Pigeon blood pink
Perf. 12 - Scott #64a - 1861
Look for Bluish undertones.
Many have the Portland ME, double ring cancels
Requires Certificate


Used: $2,200-$3,250
No postmark with gum (MH): $36,500-$50,000
Full perfect gum, no postmark, no trace of stamp hinge mark (MNH): None known


Issued: August 19, 1861. Earliest known use is August 21, 1861

Earliest known use of #64a

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

Printer: National Bank Note Co, using the flat plate printing process.

Grill: None

Quantity Issued: not known. Rare.

Color: Pigeon blood pink. Quite the esoteric name, the only other instance of it's use is to describe a color varation of rubies. You do not need to sacrifice a pigeon to find out what the color looks like. First is extremely close to pink. Having seen this color you never forget it, you can recognize another 64a at a glance, but for those who have not seen one, you are left wondering. The best I can describe the color is the pink of #248 with the appearance of a very slight blue (the blue of #63) layer over it. Should you think you have one, then a obtaining a certificate is a must, without it, it is worth about the same as #65.

Usage: First class letter rate

How the 1861 series came into being

Montgomery Blair was Lincolns Postmaster General and without doubt the most ardent supporter of the union, the most conservative member of Lincolns Cabinet. He despised the south with passion and was adamant that the south would not profit from the sale of United States stamps. In May 1861, three months after hostilities began he issued an order requiring all Southern states to return their stamps. An order that was widely ignored.

Not to be outdone PMG Blair issued on June 1, 1861, an order that no postmasters in the Southern States were authorised to sell stamps and furthermore any mail bearing stamps from those states were to be treates as unpaid. A copy of the order is shown below

Post Office Announcement of the 1861 Issue,
 setting forth by state the last dates upon which
all current U.S. stamps and stamped envelopes would be
valid for postage

This order was also widely ignored. PMG Blair was persistent, two weeks later he issued a statement that declared that he would replace the current issue with a new issue which would have different designs. That this issue would be available on August 1st and holders of the current issue would have seven days to exchange them for the new issue. After the seven days the current issue would be considered invalid for postage. The date was extended to November 1st, then to December 1st and then again to Jan 1st, 1862. By this measure PMG Blair thwarted attempts by Southern Postmasters to use US stamps. The new issue was only delivered to Union post offices.

'Old stamp no good'
A little preemptive as the stamp was valid for another two days

This last step caused a lot of controversy. Congress was not sure that he has the authority to do this. Besides the delay in the cut off date, it was found that certain post offices in MO and KY were sharing their new stock with their southern neighbours, and thus further shipments to them were curtailed. The order also neglected to mention stamped envelopes so there was a great deal of confusion as to the validity of the pre-1861 envelopes.

1861 US Postage Stamps