1908-1922 2¢ Washington
(read how to identify your stamp below)

Design A
Design B

This is the 2¢ Washington. If you have an old stamp collection, chances are that it has this and the 1¢ of this issue, in other words, it is very common and usually worth no more than a couple of dollars. In rare instances this stamp is worth more than a couple of dollars. If you wish to try your luck read on...

Design A, as shown top left has 2¢ written out in the words TWO CENTS. Design B, as shown top right has 2¢ written out as 2 CENTS 2.

DETERMINING THE PERFORATIONS

Count the perforations along the bottom, its as simple as that! Some stamps are only perforated on two sides, these are called coils, if you have one of these that have no perforation on the top or bottom, please refer to the illustration below.

All coil stamps with 12 vertical perforations have 2¢ written out in words, TWO CENTS as shown below left. All coil stamps with 10 vertical perforations have 2¢ written out as 2 CENTS 2 as show below right.

Below is a chart indicating the perforations of each Stamps Catalog #.
Table cells that are shaded refer to coil stamps. Design A did not have
stamps perforated with 10 or 11 holes.

Design A
Scotts # Perforations on all sides Perforations on
2 sides
No Perforations Odd
Perforations
  10 11 12 8 ½ 10 12 - -
332 - - X - - - - -
344 - - - - - - X -
349    - - - - -
XH
- -
353    - - - - - XV - -
358    - - X - - - - -
375 - - X - - - - -
384 - - - - - - X -
386 - - - - - XH - -
388 - - - - - XV - -
391 - - - XH - - - -
393 - - - XV - - - -
Design B
Scotts # Perforations on all sides Perforations on
2 sides
No Perforations Odd
Perforations
  10 11 12 8 ½ 10 12 - -
406 - - X - - - - -
409 - - - - - - X -
411 - - - XH - - - -
413 - - - XV - - - -
425 X - - - - - - -
442 - - - - XH - - -
444 - - - - XV - - -
449 - - - - XH - - -
450 - - - - XH - - -
453 - - - - XV - - -
454 - - - - XV - - -
455 - - - - XV - - -
459 - - - - - - X -
461 - X - - - - - -
463 X - - - - - - -
482 - - - - - - X -
487 - - - - XH - - -
491 - - - - XV - - -
492 - - - - XV - - -
499 - X - - - - - -
500 - X - - - - - -
519 - X - - - - - -
526 - X - - - - - -
527 - X - - - - - -
528 - X - - - - - -
528A - X - - - - - -
528B - X - - - - - -
532 - - - - - - X -
533 - - - - - - X -
534 - - - - - - X -
534A - - - - - - X -
534B - - - - - - X -
539 - - - - - - - 11H x 10V
540 - - - - - - - 11H x 10V
540a - - - - - - - 11H
540b - - - - XH - - -
546 - X - - - - - -

Shaded rows represent coil stamps

DETERMINING THE WATERMARK

To know which watermark a stamp has, one needs watermark fluid or lighter fluid (both of these are extremely flammable and should be used with extreme caution, outside, in a safe area far away from combustible materials). Soak the stamp in the fluid in small plate with a black or very dark color. The watermark will show, sometimes faintly by looking at the back of the stamp. The watermark fluid will quickly evaporate from the stamp, leaving the stamp and its gum intact.

There are two types of watermark you will come across. These are;


Watermark 191

Watermark 190

The watermark will have part or all of the letters U, S or P, as shown above. The upper USP letters are made of double lines, this is known as watermark 191. The lower UPS is made of single lined letters, this is known as watermark 190. There are several varities that have no watermark. Below is a chart indicating the type of watermakring that can be found on each stamp.

Design A
  Type of Watermark
Scotts #

Double Lined(191)

Single Lined (190) No
Water
Mark
332 X - -
344 X - -
349    X - -
353    X - -
358    X - -
375 - X -
384 - X -
386 - X -
388 - X -
391 - X -
393 - X -
Design B
 

Double Lined(191)

Single Lined (190) No
Water
Mark
406 - X -
409 - X -
411 - X -
413 - X -
425 - X -
442 - X -
444 - X -
449 - X -
450 - X -
453 - X -
454 - X -
455 - X -
459 - X -
461 X - -
463 - - X
482 - - X
487 - - X
491 - - X
492 - - X
499 - - X
500 - - X
519 X - -
526 - - X
527 - - X
528 - - X
528A - - X
528B - - X
532 - - X
533 - - X
534 - - X
534A - - X
534B - - X
539 - - X
540 - - X
546 - - X

Shaded rows represent coil stamps

DETERMINING THE PRINTING

The three types of printing are rotary press, flat press and the less common offset press. Design A is only printed through the Flat Plate Printing method. On Design B the easiest way to tell the difference between Flat Plate and Rotary printing is to place a Design A stamp that has the words TWO CENTS written out along the bottom (Design A), and place the Design B stamp you wish to identify over it. If the Design B stamp design is larger than the Design A stamp design then chances are it is a rotary printing. If it is the same size then it is a Flat Plate printing. I should mention that this is very much a quick and dirty method.


An example of offset printing

Offset Printing is a lot easier to identify than the determining the difference between flat plate and rotary printing, it can only be found on Design B stamps. The impression is usually courser or blurry than offset or rotary printing. Because offset printing does not involve engraving the surface of the stamp is smooth, whilst the other two printings one can feel the engraved ridges of ink on the design. Notice how much poorer the quality of printing of the offset stamp is when compared to the stamp shown above it.

Design A
  Type of Printing
Scotts # Rotary Flat Offset
332 - X -
344 - X -
349    - X -
353    - X -
358    - X -
375 - X -
384 - X -
386 - X -
388 - X -
391 - X -
393 - X -
Design B
  Rotary Flat Offset
406 - X -
409 - X -
411 - X -
413 - X -
425 - X -
442 - X -
444 - X -
449 X - -
450 X - -
453 X - -
454 X - -
455 X - -
459 X - -
461 - X -
463 - X -
482 - X -
487 X - -
491 X - -
492 X - -
499 - X -
500 - X -
519 - X -
526 - - X
527 - - X
528 - - X
528A - - X
528B - - X
532 - - X
533 - - X
534 - - X
534A - - X
534B - - X
539 X - -
540 X - -
546 X - -

Shaded rows represent coil stamps

DETERMINING THE PAPER

Identifying the type of paper the stamp was printed on is not easy. Usually one does not need to bother with this as over 95% of the 2¢ are printed on regular paper and their price is un affected by the type of paper. There are three types of papers that the Post Office experimented with in an attempt to save on costs. These are all rare, they are;

  1. Sheet Waste - Catalog numbers 539,540 and 546
  2. China Clay Paper - Very rarely on catalog number 332a
  3. Bluish Paper - Catalog number 358

Sheet or Coil Waste Paper
Only the last issues of the rotary press stamps were made with coil or sheet waste. This was an economy measure, whereby the paper waste created during the printing process of rotary coil stamps was used. There really is no way to tell the difference unless you have the equipment to perform a paper analysis. Suffice do not purchase a stamp made of sheet or coil waste without a certificate.

China Clay Paper
I challenge most experts to identify this paper. My own opinion is that it should not be listed in Scotts catalog due to the difficulty in its authentication. China clay paper is called an 'experimental' paper. There is no clay in the paper and in fact there is very little to distinguish this paper from normal paper. At there time of printing there was a flood and this caused the water to wash the paper to be dirty, so miscroscopic examination of the paper might reveal particles of dirt in the paper fibers. The flood was short lived, shorter than the printing of this paper, so not all the supposed China Clay papers have this characteristic. To read the stamps history and an independent opinion click here. To see images of the stamps click here.

However, having said all this, certificates are issued for these (on what basis I have no idea), and they do sell at a premium. According to Scotts the paper was accidentally given a high mineral content (its aluminum) and the paper is thick, hard and grayish, often darker than "bluish" paper. The differences are, shall we say, subtle. My advise is not to buy even a certificated version, as Scotts has little supporting evidence to have awarded this category of paper catalog status.

Bluish Paper
If one reads Scotts one is led to believe that the paper used for the 'bluish' paper stamps was comprised of 35% rag stock. Which would lead one to believe that this aids identification. Unfortunately only 10% rag stock was used, making the difference between normal paper and bluish paper subtle. To show you how subtle, look at the stamp on the left, it is made of bluish paper. You can see the paper is just slightly darker. It does, in fact, have a slight greyish-blue tint to it. A bluish paper stamp will require certification.

Bluish Paper Normal Paper