Get US #91 & 92
The Grills Make All the Difference
From 1867 to 1871, many US stamps went through a process designed to prevent removal of cancellations and the reuse of postage stamps. This was done with a machine invented by Charles F. Steele, which produced an embossed grill on the stamp. The grill broke the paper’s fibers, which allowed cancellation ink to thoroughly penetrate the paper. Grilling effectively prevented tampering.
Several different types of grills were used. Grill expert William L. Stevenson identified eleven different grill types and categorized them using a letter system, A-J and Z.
The E grill found on US #91 is “points down” when viewed from the front of the stamp. You’ll be able to feel the points on the back. It has 14 points horizontally by 15-17 points vertically. While US #91 and US #98 share the same stamp design, a stately engraving of President Lincoln, US #91 with an E grill is four times scarcer than #98.
US #92 features the “points down” F grill. It is 11-12 points horizontally by 15-17 points vertically. While US #92 was originally printed on normal or medium hard stamp paper, thin heavily starched paper was used later on. This paper made the grills stand out sharply against the paper and saved time by allowing two to three stamp sheets to be grilled at once.
Imagine the History These Stamps Have Seen
In 1867, US #91 paid the registration fee on a letter. This means you have the opportunity to own a stamp that may have carried a document connected with Reconstruction. This 15¢ stamp also paid the rate to France or Germany, so it’s also possible your stamp traveled across the Atlantic Ocean and back.
The 1¢ Franklin was used on many different types of mail, either by itself or in combination with other stamps. Like the 15¢ stamp, US #92 may have been used to send documents related to Reconstruction or overseas. The possibilities are endless. It’s fun to think about the places it may have gone and the messages it carried during this crucial time in American history.