Card Proofs of the
19th Century

By Greg Waldecker

Presented to the Tidewater Virginia Stamp Club
February 10, 2015

1851 Issue (Reprints of 1875)

The dies used to create the plate proofs for the 1851 issues were the ones used to print the special printing (Scott 40-47), created by the Continental Bank Note Company for the USPOD. The original dies for some of the stamps, created by the firm of Toppan, Carpenter, Casilear and Co. were used where available. The dies and plates for the 1, 3, 10 and 12 cent stamps are from new plates, created in 1875, which differ significantly from those used to print the general issue in 1851.17 

There are differences between the colors used for the special printings and the ordinary issues. There are also some variations in the shades used in the different printings, but the only way to determine which printing the proof came from is by measurement of the card thickness as the color variation is not significant enough to make that determination based on color alone.

The following table provides the information about the denominations and the breakdown of colors used for the eight stamps in this issue:

Scott Number Denomination Color
40P4 One cent Bright Blue
41P4 Three cents Scarlet
42P4 Five cents Orange Brown
43P4 Ten cents Blue Green
44P4 Twelve cents Greenish Black
45P4 Twenty Four cents Blackish Violet
46P4 Thirty cents Yellow Orange
47P4 Ninety cents Deep Blue
Scott 40P4 
Bright Blue
Scott 41P4 
Scott 42P4 
Orange Brown
Scott 43P4 
Blue Green
Scott 44P4 
Greenish Black
Scott 45P4 
Blackish Violet
Scott 46P4 
Yellow Orange
Scott 47P4 
Deep Blue
1861-8 Issues

This issue is challenging, for a variety of reasons. Changes in the way stamps were numbered; color listings, and the skipping of numbers in the Scott system are some of the challenges.

When the Continental Bank Note Company was requested to create the card proofs and special printings in 1875, they created new plates for the 1, 2, 5, 10, and 12 cent stamps. These are indistinguishable from the original plates as singles, but because of the wider spacing between the stamps can only be distinguished in pairs or blocks.18 

Those stamps known as the “August” issues in the 1861 series have been delisted from primary Scott number status and moved to the essay listing section where they have been assigned numbers per the protocols for that section. This means that what were formerly major number listed stamps, Scott 55-62, no longer exist. This author is unaware of any stamps having ever been designated with Scott number 48-54; if these numbers were used, they were delisted in the distant past. 19 

Scott 62B, while theoretically belonging in the grouping with the August Issue (Scott 55-62), and described as such by Luff,20  was produced in sufficient numbers and used postally, so it is still listed as a major number issue.21  There are no plate proofs for this or any of the “August Issue” designs as the design is almost identical to the regular issued stamps of the series.

There are multiple colors for some of the denominations, resulting in multiple Scott numbers. However, not all colors were produced as proofs. This means some Scott numbers will not have a corresponding P4 proof.

Scott 64, 65, 66 and 74 are all major numbered stamps for the three cent issue; the difference is color. Scott 64 is pink; Scott 65 is rose (with many shades); Scott 66 is lake while Scott 74 is scarlet (both are only listed as a trial color, designated as such by the “TC”). Of these, only Scott 65 and Scott 74 have a corresponding P4 proof. Scott 66, the lake shade, is provided in this collection as an India proof (P3). Scott 67, Scott 75 and Scott 76 are all major numbered stamps for the five cent issue. Scott 67 is olive, Scott 75 is red brown and Scott 76 is brown. Only Scott 76 has a corresponding P4 proof. Scott 70 and 78 are both major numbered stamps for the twenty-four cent issues; they both have a P4 proof. There are two additional stamps which became part of this series. The two cent black, known as the “Black Jack” is added, as is the fifteen cent black, issued quickly, as a mourning stamp for President Lincoln. These both have P4 proofs. On top of this, certain colors were only printed in one printing and for those issued in all printings, there are shade variations.

With that having been laid as a base, here is the chart with the information about these issues:

Scott Number Denomination Color
63P4 One cent Blue
73aP4 Two cents Black
65P4 Three cents Rose
74P4 Three cents Scarlet
76P4 Five cents Brown
68P4 Ten cents Green
69P4 Twelve cents Black
77P4 Fifteen cents Black
70P4 Twenty Four cents Red Lilac
78P4 Twenty Four cents Lilac
71P4 Thirty cents Ornage
72P4 Ninety cents Blue
Scott 63P4 
Scott 73aP4 
Scott 65P4 
Scott 66TCP3 
Scott 74TCP4 
Scott 76P4 
Scott 68P4 
Scott 69P4 
Scott 77P4 
Scott 70P4 
Red Lilac
Scott 78P4 
Scott 71P4 
Scott 72P4 
1869 Issues

The issue of 1869 is straight forward, with only one issue which was not created as a card proof for the series, the fifteen-cent. The card proof for the fifteen-cent is from the dies for the reprint, Scott 129.22 23  The same plates were used for the reissue in 1875, being made without grill and on the same paper, but with a distinctly different gum.24  This series was immensely unpopular at the time the stamps were issued, lasting less than a year. The grilled issues of the 1867 series were again released to post offices as an interim solution.25  The final answer would be to replace both the 1869 issue and the 1867 issue with what would become known as the large Banknote Issues.

The following chart lists the various stamps in this issue, along with the approved color.

Scott Number Denomination Color
112P4 One cent Buff
113P4 Two cents Brown
114P4 Three cents Ultramarine
115P4 Six cents Ultramarine
116P4 Ten cents Yellow
117P4 Twelve cents Green
129P4 Fifteen cents Brown and Blue
120P4 Twenty Four cents Green and Violet
121P4 Thirty cents Ultramarine and Carmine
122P4 Ninety cents Black and Carmine
Scott 112P4 
Scott 113P4 
Scott 114P4 
Scott 115P4 
Scott 116P4 
Scott 117P4 
Scott 129P4 
Brown and Blue
Scott 120P4 
Green and Violet
Scott 121P4 
Ultramarine and Carmine
Scott 122P4 
Black and Carmine

17 Brazer, p.xv.
18  Luff, pp. 256-57; Snee, 758 (note following the listing for 94P).
19  Snee, pp. 21 and 756. Because of the unique nature of these stamps, which were prototypes, they did not see postal use and are accorded the proper status of being essays.
20 Luff, pp. 68-70.
21  Snee, p. 21.
22 Snee, p. 48A.
23 Brookman, p. 178.
24 Luff, p. 257. Luff discusses the reissues here, but doesn’t discuss the proofs which were created.
25 Luff, p. 89; Brookman, Vol. II, p. 156.

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