1873 6¢ Lincoln
Continental Bank Note Printing
Earliest Known Use: June 8, 1873
Quantity issued: 38,311,500 (estimate)
Printed by: Continental Bank Note Company
Method: Flat plate
Color: Dull pink
The 1873 6¢ stamp pictures Abraham Lincoln. Prior to serving in Congress and becoming President, Lincoln had a variety of jobs. He helped manage a country store, was an assistant county surveyor, and served as the postmaster of New Salem, Illinois.
Secret mark added by Continental Bank Note Company – the first four vertical lines in the lower part of the ribbon to the left of the “six” are darker.
Bank Notes 1870-1888
Due to the unpopularity of the 1869 Pictorial series, the Postmaster General found it necessary to issue new stamps. Among the public’s many complaints were that the stamps were too small, unattractive, and of inferior quality. Thus, the new issues were not only larger and of a better quality, but they also carried new designs. Heads, in profile, of famous deceased Americans were chosen as the new subject matter.
Nicknamed the “Bank Note” stamps, this series was printed by three prominent Bank Note printing companies – the National, Continental, and American Bank Note Companies, in that order. As the contract for printing passed from company to company, so did the dies and plates. Each company printed the stamps with slight variations, and identifying them can be both challenging and complex.
Because the pictorials were to be printed for four years, but were withdrawn from sale after a year, the National Bank Note Company still had three years remaining in their contract. The stamps they printed were produced with and without grills.
In 1873, new bids were submitted and a new contract was awarded to the Continental Bank Note Company. So-called “secret marks” enabled them to distinguish their plates and stamps from earlier ones.
The American Bank Note Company acquired Continental in 1879 and assumed the contract Continental had held. This firm, however, printed the stamps on a soft paper, which has different qualities than the hard paper used by the previous companies.
Color variations, in addition to secret marks and different paper types, are helpful in determining the different varieties. These classic stamps are a truly fascinating area of philately.
Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
Cumberland Gap National Historical Park was established on June 11, 1940, along the Kentucky-Virginia border. The park preserves and honors the “first great gateway to the West.”
Located one-quarter mile north of where the current-day Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee state borders meet, the Cumberland Gap is a natural narrow pass through the Cumberland Mountains in the southern Appalachians. It is the only natural break in the 100-mile-long Cumberland Mountain ridge.
Called the “first great gateway to the West,” the Cumberland Gap was used by Native American Tribes long before European settlers traversed the narrow pass. By the mid- 1700s, colonists to the east of the mountains were eager to explore the region in search of new lands to hunt, cultivate, and settle. It’s likely that many hunters, trappers, and traders had explored the region before it was formally investigated. But Dr. Thomas Walker is often credited with the Gap’s discovery during an expedition in the Spring of 1750.
Exploration of the Cumberland Gap continued, and a trader named John Finley accidentally stumbled upon the blue grass region shortly after Walker’s expedition. The outbreak of the French and Indian War kept him from pursuing further exploration, but he discussed his discovery with friends and fellow soldiers during the war, including Daniel Boone. After a failed attempt to find the pass in 1767, Boone searched for it again in 1769 with Finley. They followed the gap into Kentucky, but conflicts with Indian tribes, adverse weather conditions, and supply shortages worked against the explorers. Most of the party gave up, eventually leaving only Boone in the wilderness. Later joined by his brother, the pair learned the lands and the ways of the Natives. When they returned east in 1773, their stories roused curiosity of adventurers and spectators.
Following negotiations resulting in the Treaty of Sycamore Shoals, the Cherokee, with the exception of Chief Dragging-Canoe, agreed to sell a large portion of now-central Kentucky to the Transylvania Land Company. A mass migration through the Cumberland Gap followed. Settlements banded together to fight off native American raids and built forts for protection in the shadow of the Revolution. Despite constant setbacks, the population of Kentucky settlers quadrupled between 1775 and 1783. By the end of 1794, two hundred families had purchased land west of the mountains. Expansion increased dramatically through the end of the 18th century, with some 300,000 immigrants finding their way through the Cumberland Gap.
After the Civil War, the Cumberland Gap became an abandoned wasteland of military trenches and beaten up roads littered with tree stumps. The discovery of natural resources brought focus back to the area in the late 1800s. However, it was not until 1922 that a park was considered. The idea bounced around local governments for almost two decades before the creation of a national historical park was authorized. The park was dedicated on June 11, 1940.
Since its establishment, the park has seen an abundance of forest regrowth following 175 years of timber industry. Routes, no more sophisticated than forest trails and wagon roads, are maintained throughout the pass. The roadbed of former US Highway 25E was even restored to a dirt path, being replaced by the underground Cumberland Gap Tunnel in 1996.
The National Park Service and volunteer groups are vigilant in their efforts to maintain the park in its natural state for the local flora and fauna, and for the generations of visitors who come to see the breathtaking views and to experience the history associated with the Cumberland Gap.