The use of stamps by departments of the federal government was mandated by an Act of Congress, approved on March 3, 1873. The Postmaster General ordered their preparation and the stamps went into use on July 1, 1873.50
Card proofs were prepared, as were all other issues, and printed in the six printings conducted by the American Bank Note Company, using the dies they inherited from the Continental Bank Note Company upon their merger in 1879. The colors used, like the regularly issued stamps, are by department and color specific to that department. Each department will be listed and shown as a group.
The following information is provided for those proofs prepared for the Department of Agriculture:
|O8P4||Twenty Four cents||Yellow|
Of interest is the original envelope, pictured here, which these proofs would have originally been packaged in for sale. This type of envelope was used for all issues and labeled appropriately. There are differences in the style of lettering between the five printings, allowing identification as which printing the envelope originated with. Unfortunately, it is not that easy to tie the proofs themselves, with a couple of exceptions, to the different printings.
The following information is provided for those proofs prepared for the Executive Department:
The following information is provided for those proofs prepared for the Department of the Interior:
|O22P4||Twenty Four cents||Vermillion|
50 Luff, p. 201.