Are You Missing These 1916-22 Washington-Franklin Coils?
Unwatermarked, Perforated 10 Vertically
The Washington-Franklins are among the most fascinating and challenging US stamps to collect. Issued between 1908 and 1922, they encompassed over 200 varieties, five different designs, two paper types, three printing methods, at least 14 perforations, several colors, and 20 denominations.
You can come one step closer to completing your Washington-Franklin collection with this convenient set of eight stamps. The BEP switched to unwatermarked paper in 1916 in a move to save money. US aid to Europe during World War I, as well as the country’s expected entry into the war, made such cost-cutting moves practical.
These stamps were all printed on unwatermarked paper and perforated 10 vertically. Set includes:
US #490 – Fulfilled the postcard rate and was useful in making up the difference in more expensive rates for heavier letters and packages.
US #491 – Fewer than 300,000 estimated to have been issued. Often confused with US #454. It’s easy for collectors to miss the single watermarks in US #454 that are often faint or hard to make out, so they are sometimes mistaken for unwatermarked US #491. Type II identified by: the left ribbon has only one line on the top fold (Type III has two); the strand of hair between the ear and cheek has a pronounced, curved outline on the bottom; the shaded area above Washington’s eye pushes upwards; a line on the right-hand ribbon appears as three dashes; shading lines in his hair, and in the laurel leaves, are often more pronounced than in Type I stamps, but less pronounced than Type III.
US #492 – Similar to #491, but issued in greater quantities – and on new plates. When #492 was first issued, it fulfilled the standard domestic mail rate. The war rate for domestic mail increased in 1917, but #492 was still commonly used to make up part of the rate. Some of the primary features of the Type III Rotary Press Washington stamps are: the left ribbon has two shading lines on the top fold; there are also two shading lines in the last fold of the right ribbon; the bottom two strands of hair behind Washington’s ear extend past the vertical strands to their right; the top right laurel berry shows a distinct “V.”
US #493 – Increased in demand with the onset of America’s entry into World War I. This stamp also had a wider range of color shades than previous 3¢ issues, ranging from reddish violet to dull violet. Type I distinguished by: a pronounced white line underneath Washington’s ear, and the bottom two strands of hair behind his ear are shorter than the ones above it. Other features are often less distinct than found on Type II or Type III dies.
US #494 – Type II. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing used new master plates for the 3¢ Washington, as the wartime domestic postage rate created an enormous and sudden demand. The new plates gave the stamps a crisper, more defined appearance than the previous worn plates were able to offer.
US #495 – Fulfilled the domestic mail rate for letters weighing one to two ounces, until postal rates jumped during World War I.
US #496 – More US #496 stamps were issued than any previous 5¢ denominated stamp due to greater demand during the World War I years, making them quite common. Although flat plate perforating machines had been changed to 11 gauge perfs for nearly two years by the time #496 was issued, coil stamp production still continued with 10 gauge perforations.
US #497 – Marked the last time a “Franklin head” stamp was used for the 10¢ denomination. The stamp paid the domestic registered mail fee.