#272a – 1895 8c Sherman, DL Wmrk USIR

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U.S. #272a DL Watermark USIR
1895 8¢ Sherman

Issued: July 22, 1895
Issue Quantity: 96,217,820
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Watermark:
Double line USPS
Perforation:
12
Color: Violet brown

The most common use of U.S. #272 was to pay the Registration fee. It was replaced on December 2, 1902, with the Series of 1902 issue.
 
Why Watermarks Were Added in 1895
The “Chicago Counterfeits,” as the scandal came to be known, was one of the few counterfeits in the history of U.S. postage stamps. The Post Office Department was made aware of the matter when Edward Lowry contacted Postal Inspector James Stuart. Lowry wanted to know if the Postal Department had any objection to his purchasing the 2¢ current issue at less than face value, as advertised in the Chicago Tribune. The ad read, “We have $115 U.S. two cent stamps which we cannot use here, will send them by express C.O.D. privilege of examination for $100. Canadian Novelty Supply Agency, Hamilton, Ontario, Can.” In essence, they were offering 5,750 stamps worth $115 for $100. The deal sounded suspicious to Inspector Stuart, and in cooperation with Lowry, had him send a request for the stamps.
 
At about the same time, Nathan Herman called the ad to the attention of U.S. Secret Service agent, Captain Thomas Porter, who joined forces with Inspector Stuart. The agents also had Herman write for a package of stamps. On April 8, 1895, the stamps, which Lowry and Herman had ordered, arrived at the Chicago office of the Wells Fargo Express Company. In addition, five other similar packages arrived, ordered by other people who had seen the ad. Interestingly enough, each of them had received the proper number of stamps. Over 40,000 stamps were confiscated that day!
 
Meanwhile, on April 6th, Captain Porter was notified that a Mrs. Lacy and her daughter, Tinsa McMillan, had some sort of printing operation set up in a back room of their apartment. When Porter, along with several agents and police officers, searched the apartment later that same evening, they found a copying camera, a perforating machine, copper printing plates, gummed paper, and other paraphernalia for producing stamps. Suspecting they were on the right track, he and Inspector Stuart traveled to Hamilton, Ontario, where they arrested Tinsa McMillan at the office of the Canadian Novelty Supply Company. As head of the organization, she had organized and directed the entire affair, and was sentenced to a year and a half in a reformatory.
 
A Mr. George Morrison was also arrested over a week later at his downtown Chicago office. A printing press was found there, but no other supplies. Apparently, the stamps were printed at his office and then shipped to Canada.
 
Seven months later, a Mr. Warren Thompson was arrested. The owner and editor of a magazine called Heart and Hand, he had assisted in making the stamps and was using them as postage on his periodical as a test to determine if the stamps would be discovered when passing through the mail. Thirty thousand more counterfeit stamps were confiscated, bringing the total up to over 70,000 confiscated stamps!
 
Watermarked Stamps
After the 1895 counterfeiting scam, the Post Office Department made the decision to print the stamps on watermarked paper. A watermark is a pattern impressed into the paper during its manufacture. While still in the wet pulp stage, the paper passes through a “dandy roller” which has “bits” attached to it. These bits are pressed into the paper, causing a slight thinning, and thus imprinting the design.
 
Beginning with the first postage stamp, watermarks were used to discourage counterfeiting. Britain’s Penny Black was watermarked with a small, simple crown. Various other designs were used until 1967, when Britain produced its first stamp on unwatermarked paper. Today, many British commonwealth countries still use watermarks. The designs range from letters to symbols or emblems, from the simple to the intricate.
 
The first U.S. watermark consisted of the letters USPS (United States Postal Service) and is described as being “double-lined.” The letters were repeated across the entire sheet, and as a result, only a portion of one or more letters will appear on a stamp. Occasionally, a stamp will have a complete letter on it. When the stamps were printed, no thought was given to the position of the watermark. Consequently, the watermark may be backwards, upside-down, backwards and upside-down, or sideways in relation to the stamp. None are unusual or considered a separate variety.
 
Errors were made, however, on the 6¢ Garfield and the 8¢ Sherman, when some of the stamps were printed on sheets watermarked USIR (United States Internal Revenue). Since the BEP printed regular issue postage stamps, as well as revenue stamps, it’s easy to see how such a mistake may have happened. Some believe the switch may have been deliberate, because not enough properly marked paper was available.
 
A watermark can be identified by holding the stamp up to a light source, or with the aid of a watermark tray and benzine fluid. When the stamps are printed on a colored background, as the 1895 series is, the latter method is preferred. The stamp is placed face down in the tray, and a small drop of solution is dropped onto it. As the liquid penetrates the paper, the watermark will show up briefly, as the thinner paper is penetrated first.
 

U.S. Stamps Printed on Watermarked Paper

1895 Franklin watermarked stamp
US #264 was the first US postage stamp issued on watermarked paper.

On or around April 29, 1895, the US Post Office began issuing postage stamps with watermarks.  The practice was introduced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) and only lasted a little over 20 years.

From 1870 to 1894, US postage stamps were printed by a series of Bank Note companies.  As each company won the contract, the printing plates were handed off to the next company and small changes were made to differentiate between them.  In 1894, the BEP won the contract, and would produce most US stamps for the next 75 years.  When they took over stamp printing, the BEP received all the existing stamp dies, rolls, plates, and paper from the American Bank Note Company.  To distinguish their stamps from the ones before them, they added triangles to the upper corners of the stamps. These stamps are known as the First Bureau Issues and are US #246-63.

Complete set of 1895 watermarked stamps
US #264-78 – Get the complete set of 1895 double-line watermark stamps.

While these were the first postage stamps the Bureau printed, they had been printing US revenue stamps since 1862.  Around 1878, they started printing revenues on watermarked paper.  This was to satisfy a law that required government securities to be printed on watermarked paper.  The BEP likely believed that US stamps fell into this category of securities and began preparing watermarked paper for US postage stamps.  However, they used up their existing stock of unwatermarked paper until it was gone.

1895 Sherman USIR watermark stamp
US #272a was mistakenly printed on US Internal Revenue Service paper.

A watermark is a pattern impressed into the paper during its manufacture.  While still in the wet pulp stage, the paper passes through a “dandy roller” which has “bits” attached to it.  These bits are pressed into the paper, causing a slight thinning, thus imprinting the design.  US #264 was the first stamp issued on this paper, on or around April 29, 1895.

The first US watermark consisted of the letters USPS (United States Postal Service) and is described as “double-lined.”  The letters were repeated across the entire sheet, and as a result, only a portion of one or more letters appear on a stamp.  Occasionally, a stamp will have a complete letter on it.  When the stamps were printed, no thought was given to the position of the watermark.  Consequently, some watermarks were backwards, upside-down, backwards and upside-down, or sideways in relation to the stamp.  None are unusual or considered a separate variety.  You can view a double-line watermarked stamp here.

1910 Franklin single-line watermark stamp
US #374 – Issued in 1910, this was one of the first stamps printed on single-line watermarked paper.

Errors were made, however, on the 6¢ Garfield and the 8¢ Sherman, when some of the stamps were printed on sheets watermarked USIR (United States Internal Revenue).  Since the BEP printed regular issue postage stamps, as well as revenue stamps, it’s easy to see how such a mistake may have happened.  Some believe the switch may have been deliberate, because not enough properly marked paper was available.

1917 Washington on double-line watermark paper
US #519 – This 1908 imperforate stamp on double-line watermarked paper was returned to the USPO and perforated in 1917.

The Bureau continued to use watermarked paper for several years.  In 1910, they made the decision to change the USPS watermark.  In addition to reducing the size of the letters, the style was changed from a double line to a single line.  The purpose was to strengthen the paper and give it a more uniform thickness, since the old watermark tended to weaken the structure of the paper.  The 1913 Panama-Pacific Expo stamps (#397-404) were the only commemoratives printed on the single-line watermark paper, while the rest were Washington-Franklins.

1938 Wilson USIR watermark stamp
US #832b was accidentally printed on US Internal Revenue Service paper.

Since money was in short supply due to the economic pressures of World War I, the watermark was discontinued in 1916 to cut back on production costs at the Bureau.  By not using the specially produced watermarked paper, a large amount of money could be saved.  It was decided that this savings was so significant, it outweighed the risk of counterfeiting.  No more stamps were intentionally printed on watermarked paper after that, though there were two notable errors – US #519 and #832b.

If you need supplies to identify your stamps, we have a watermark tray and watermark fluid.

 
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U.S. #272a DL Watermark USIR
1895 8¢ Sherman

Issued: July 22, 1895
Issue Quantity: 96,217,820
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Watermark:
Double line USPS
Perforation:
12
Color: Violet brown

The most common use of U.S. #272 was to pay the Registration fee. It was replaced on December 2, 1902, with the Series of 1902 issue.
 
Why Watermarks Were Added in 1895
The “Chicago Counterfeits,” as the scandal came to be known, was one of the few counterfeits in the history of U.S. postage stamps. The Post Office Department was made aware of the matter when Edward Lowry contacted Postal Inspector James Stuart. Lowry wanted to know if the Postal Department had any objection to his purchasing the 2¢ current issue at less than face value, as advertised in the Chicago Tribune. The ad read, “We have $115 U.S. two cent stamps which we cannot use here, will send them by express C.O.D. privilege of examination for $100. Canadian Novelty Supply Agency, Hamilton, Ontario, Can.” In essence, they were offering 5,750 stamps worth $115 for $100. The deal sounded suspicious to Inspector Stuart, and in cooperation with Lowry, had him send a request for the stamps.
 
At about the same time, Nathan Herman called the ad to the attention of U.S. Secret Service agent, Captain Thomas Porter, who joined forces with Inspector Stuart. The agents also had Herman write for a package of stamps. On April 8, 1895, the stamps, which Lowry and Herman had ordered, arrived at the Chicago office of the Wells Fargo Express Company. In addition, five other similar packages arrived, ordered by other people who had seen the ad. Interestingly enough, each of them had received the proper number of stamps. Over 40,000 stamps were confiscated that day!
 
Meanwhile, on April 6th, Captain Porter was notified that a Mrs. Lacy and her daughter, Tinsa McMillan, had some sort of printing operation set up in a back room of their apartment. When Porter, along with several agents and police officers, searched the apartment later that same evening, they found a copying camera, a perforating machine, copper printing plates, gummed paper, and other paraphernalia for producing stamps. Suspecting they were on the right track, he and Inspector Stuart traveled to Hamilton, Ontario, where they arrested Tinsa McMillan at the office of the Canadian Novelty Supply Company. As head of the organization, she had organized and directed the entire affair, and was sentenced to a year and a half in a reformatory.
 
A Mr. George Morrison was also arrested over a week later at his downtown Chicago office. A printing press was found there, but no other supplies. Apparently, the stamps were printed at his office and then shipped to Canada.
 
Seven months later, a Mr. Warren Thompson was arrested. The owner and editor of a magazine called Heart and Hand, he had assisted in making the stamps and was using them as postage on his periodical as a test to determine if the stamps would be discovered when passing through the mail. Thirty thousand more counterfeit stamps were confiscated, bringing the total up to over 70,000 confiscated stamps!
 
Watermarked Stamps
After the 1895 counterfeiting scam, the Post Office Department made the decision to print the stamps on watermarked paper. A watermark is a pattern impressed into the paper during its manufacture. While still in the wet pulp stage, the paper passes through a “dandy roller” which has “bits” attached to it. These bits are pressed into the paper, causing a slight thinning, and thus imprinting the design.
 
Beginning with the first postage stamp, watermarks were used to discourage counterfeiting. Britain’s Penny Black was watermarked with a small, simple crown. Various other designs were used until 1967, when Britain produced its first stamp on unwatermarked paper. Today, many British commonwealth countries still use watermarks. The designs range from letters to symbols or emblems, from the simple to the intricate.
 
The first U.S. watermark consisted of the letters USPS (United States Postal Service) and is described as being “double-lined.” The letters were repeated across the entire sheet, and as a result, only a portion of one or more letters will appear on a stamp. Occasionally, a stamp will have a complete letter on it. When the stamps were printed, no thought was given to the position of the watermark. Consequently, the watermark may be backwards, upside-down, backwards and upside-down, or sideways in relation to the stamp. None are unusual or considered a separate variety.
 
Errors were made, however, on the 6¢ Garfield and the 8¢ Sherman, when some of the stamps were printed on sheets watermarked USIR (United States Internal Revenue). Since the BEP printed regular issue postage stamps, as well as revenue stamps, it’s easy to see how such a mistake may have happened. Some believe the switch may have been deliberate, because not enough properly marked paper was available.
 
A watermark can be identified by holding the stamp up to a light source, or with the aid of a watermark tray and benzine fluid. When the stamps are printed on a colored background, as the 1895 series is, the latter method is preferred. The stamp is placed face down in the tray, and a small drop of solution is dropped onto it. As the liquid penetrates the paper, the watermark will show up briefly, as the thinner paper is penetrated first.
 

U.S. Stamps Printed on Watermarked Paper

1895 Franklin watermarked stamp
US #264 was the first US postage stamp issued on watermarked paper.

On or around April 29, 1895, the US Post Office began issuing postage stamps with watermarks.  The practice was introduced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) and only lasted a little over 20 years.

From 1870 to 1894, US postage stamps were printed by a series of Bank Note companies.  As each company won the contract, the printing plates were handed off to the next company and small changes were made to differentiate between them.  In 1894, the BEP won the contract, and would produce most US stamps for the next 75 years.  When they took over stamp printing, the BEP received all the existing stamp dies, rolls, plates, and paper from the American Bank Note Company.  To distinguish their stamps from the ones before them, they added triangles to the upper corners of the stamps. These stamps are known as the First Bureau Issues and are US #246-63.

Complete set of 1895 watermarked stamps
US #264-78 – Get the complete set of 1895 double-line watermark stamps.

While these were the first postage stamps the Bureau printed, they had been printing US revenue stamps since 1862.  Around 1878, they started printing revenues on watermarked paper.  This was to satisfy a law that required government securities to be printed on watermarked paper.  The BEP likely believed that US stamps fell into this category of securities and began preparing watermarked paper for US postage stamps.  However, they used up their existing stock of unwatermarked paper until it was gone.

1895 Sherman USIR watermark stamp
US #272a was mistakenly printed on US Internal Revenue Service paper.

A watermark is a pattern impressed into the paper during its manufacture.  While still in the wet pulp stage, the paper passes through a “dandy roller” which has “bits” attached to it.  These bits are pressed into the paper, causing a slight thinning, thus imprinting the design.  US #264 was the first stamp issued on this paper, on or around April 29, 1895.

The first US watermark consisted of the letters USPS (United States Postal Service) and is described as “double-lined.”  The letters were repeated across the entire sheet, and as a result, only a portion of one or more letters appear on a stamp.  Occasionally, a stamp will have a complete letter on it.  When the stamps were printed, no thought was given to the position of the watermark.  Consequently, some watermarks were backwards, upside-down, backwards and upside-down, or sideways in relation to the stamp.  None are unusual or considered a separate variety.  You can view a double-line watermarked stamp here.

1910 Franklin single-line watermark stamp
US #374 – Issued in 1910, this was one of the first stamps printed on single-line watermarked paper.

Errors were made, however, on the 6¢ Garfield and the 8¢ Sherman, when some of the stamps were printed on sheets watermarked USIR (United States Internal Revenue).  Since the BEP printed regular issue postage stamps, as well as revenue stamps, it’s easy to see how such a mistake may have happened.  Some believe the switch may have been deliberate, because not enough properly marked paper was available.

1917 Washington on double-line watermark paper
US #519 – This 1908 imperforate stamp on double-line watermarked paper was returned to the USPO and perforated in 1917.

The Bureau continued to use watermarked paper for several years.  In 1910, they made the decision to change the USPS watermark.  In addition to reducing the size of the letters, the style was changed from a double line to a single line.  The purpose was to strengthen the paper and give it a more uniform thickness, since the old watermark tended to weaken the structure of the paper.  The 1913 Panama-Pacific Expo stamps (#397-404) were the only commemoratives printed on the single-line watermark paper, while the rest were Washington-Franklins.

1938 Wilson USIR watermark stamp
US #832b was accidentally printed on US Internal Revenue Service paper.

Since money was in short supply due to the economic pressures of World War I, the watermark was discontinued in 1916 to cut back on production costs at the Bureau.  By not using the specially produced watermarked paper, a large amount of money could be saved.  It was decided that this savings was so significant, it outweighed the risk of counterfeiting.  No more stamps were intentionally printed on watermarked paper after that, though there were two notable errors – US #519 and #832b.

If you need supplies to identify your stamps, we have a watermark tray and watermark fluid.