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United States Stamp Values

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The Banknote Era

Following the short run of the 1869 Pictorials, a new series of more traditional portraits was released by the National Banknote Company in 1870, ushering in a period of stamp production collectively called the Banknote Era. During this time numerous similar appearing stamps were produced as stamp production contracts changed hands among three contractors. Stamps varied by paper type and grill, but also by a series of intentional plate variations known as secret marks. While there are some accessible examples, stamps of this era are some of the most scarce and sought after in all of philately.

1870-71 National Banknote - Grilled

There are two sizes of grills found in this series, the H grill which is about 10 x 12mm with sharp tips on the grill points, and the I grill which is measures about 8.5 x 10mm and has blunt tips. The H grill was used on all values, while the I grill was only used on the 1 cent thru 7 cent values. Stamps were printed on thin to medium thick white wove paper, perforated 12.

1 cent Franklin - ultramarine$850.00$90.00
2 cent Jackson - red brown$450.00$40.00
3 cent Washington - green$275.00$15.00
6 cent Lincoln - carmine$1,750.00$300.00
7 cent Stanton - vermilion$1,400.00$240.00
10 cent Jefferson - brown$1,650.00$350.00
12 cent Clay - dull violet..$1,500.00
15 cent Webster - orange$2,400.00$575.00
30 cent Hamilton - black..$1,600.00
90 cent Perry - carmine..$1,150.00

1870-71 National Banknote without Grill

Identical to the above printing, but without the grill.

1 cent Franklin - ultramarine$200.00$9.50
2 cent Jackson - red brown$125.00$8.00
3 cent Washington - green$115.00$0.90
6 cent Lincoln - carmine$365.00$18.00
7 cent Stanton - vermilion$400.00$45.00
10 cent Jefferson - brown$550.00$16.50
12 cent Clay - dull violet$925.00$100.00
15 cent Webster - bright orange$1,025.00$95.00
24 cent Scott - purple$725.00$75.00
30 cent Hamilton - black..$135.00
90 cent Perry - carmine$1,650.00$180.00

1873 Continental Banknote - Hard Paper

When the Continental Bank Note Company took over the printing contract in 1873, it took over many of the original plates and dies. The designs are therefore similar or identical to those printed earlier by Continental. The 1 cent through the 12 cent can be identified by "secret marks" added to the designs. The 15 cent can be distinguished by plate wear and shade variation, and the 30 cent and 90 cent can be distinguished by shade differences. Although both National and Continental printed the 24 cent Scott, there is no way to tell the issues apart; there is no secret mark or consistent color variation. There is one exception: a single example of the 24 cent exists on ribbed paper which was only used by Continental.

1 cent Franklin - ultramarine - secret mark: small crescent in the pearl to the left of the numeral$95.00$2.70
2 cent Jackson - brown - secret mark: small diagonal line under the scroll at the left of U.S. $150.00$11.00
3 cent Washington - green - secret mark: under part of the upper tail of the left ribbon is heavily shaded$42.50$0.50
6 cent Lincoln - dull pink - secret mark: darkening of the first four vertical lines in the lower part of the left ribbon$165.00$10.00
7 cent Stanton - orange vermilion - secret mark: small semi-circles at ends of lines outlining ornament at lower right corner$475.00$45.00
10 cent Jefferson - brown - secret mark: crescent cut into ball beneath E of POSTAGE$400.00$13.50
12 cent Clay - blackish violet - secret mark:end of ball in numeral 2 is crescent$900.00$65.00
15 cent Webster - yellow orange - secret mark: V of color at bottom of triangle in upper left corner$950.00$70.00
30 cent Hamilton - gray black$1,150.00$57.50
90 cent Perry - rose carmine$1,050.00$135.00

1875 New Color - New Value

In 1875 two new stamps were issued. The 2 cent Jackson from the 1873 series was reissued with the color changed from brown to vermilion in order to reduce confusion between the 2 cent Jackson and the 10 cent brown Jefferson. Also a new value, the 5 cent Zachary Taylor, was issued to pay the new standard rate to Europe.

2 cent Jackson - vermilion$165.00$6.00
5 cent Taylor - blue$250.00$13.50

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These prices for U.S. stamps are provided as a service to Hobbizine readers. They are derived from numerous sources such as dealer price lists, advertisements in philatelic publications, and public auction results. Use these values as a guideline for evaluating the reasonableness of dealer prices, setting up trades with other collectors, and estimating the worth of your collection. The value of an individual stamp is dependent on its centering and condition. The prices listed here are for well centered, undamaged stamps. A particularly nice example might sell for more than the amount listed, while a poor copy might be worth less.

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