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Official stamps

In the 1870s, government departments lost the franking privilege. Separate series of stamps were issued for each department's use. Except for the issues of the Post Office Department, which feature only numerals, the stamps were patterned on the then-current "banknote" issues.

1873 issues, Continental Bank Note Company

Printed on thin hard paper.

Department of State

Officials of the Department of State were required to use these stamps on official mailings. While other departments were provided with stamps in denominations only up to 90 (and some not even that high), the Department of State was provided with high-value stamps in denominations of $2, $5, $10 and $20 to facilitate consular and diplomatic mailings throughout the world. Used examples and covers exist with postmarks from a number of U.S. consulates in foreign countries.

Scott O57SD, 1 Specimen, Department of State, plate number 55

Scott O57S var, 1¢ State, specimen overprint on imperf proof, plate number 55

Scott O58, 2¢ Department of State, plate number 59

Scott O58S var, 2¢ State, specimen overprint on imperf proof, plate number 59

Scott O59S var, 3¢ State, specimen overprint on imperf proof, plate number 70

Scott O60, 6, Department of State, plate number 83

Scott O60S var, 6¢ State, specimen overprint on imperf proof, plate number 83

Scott O62S var, 10¢ State, specimen overprint on imperf proof, plate number 98

Scott O63, 12, Department of State, top imprint single

Scott O63S var, 12¢ State, specimen overprint on imperf proof, plate number 78

Scott O64S var, 15¢ State, specimen overprint on imperf proof, plate number 118

Scott O65S var, 24¢ State, specimen overprint on imperf proof, plate number 117

Scott O66S var, 30¢ State, specimen overprint on imperf proof, plate number 116

Scott O67S var, 90¢ State, specimen overprint on imperf proof, plate number 67

Scott O68P3, $2 Department of State, proof of a complete sheet of 10 showing plate numbers 121 (green) and 123 (black).

Scott O68S var, $2 State, specimen overprint on imperf proof, plate number 121

Scott O68aP4, $2 Department of State, inverted center, plate number 121

Scott O69, $5 Department of State, plate number 120

Scott O69S var, $5 State, specimen overprint on imperf proof, plate number 123

Scott O69aP4, $5 Department of State, inverted center, plate number 120

Scott O70, $10 Department of State, plate number 123

Scott O70P3, $10 Department of State, proof of a complete sheet of 10 showing plate numbers 122 (green) and 123 (black).

Note that the same black plate number 123 was used to print the bust of Seward on all four of the high-value State issues.

Scott O70P4, $10 Department of State, proof, plate number 123

Scott O70S var, $10 State, specimen overprint on imperf proof, plate number 123

Scott O71, $20 Department of State, plate number 123

Scott O71P3, $20 Department of State, proof of a complete sheet of 10 showing plate number 124 (green) and 123 (black).

Scott O71P4, $20 Department of State, proof, plate number 123

Scott O71S var, $20 State, specimen overprint on imperf proof, plate number 123

Scott O71aP4, $20 Department of State, inverted center, unique block of 4 with plate number 123.

 

 

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This page last updated September 7, 2017.

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