Posted 7 years ago
Unlike most US stamps which are unique in design, the 1851 imperforate issue of the One Cent stamp is a distinct challenge in identification What makes it so is that there are four recognized design types , two of which with subsets not to mention the various permutations in individual stamps.; each type and subset is labeled by the completeness of the full design as as shown by the degree of presence of the scrolls, balls or frames at both top and bottom of the design. A complete description with comprehensive illustration is available on the web at http://www.theswedishtiger.com 8-scotts.html. Take a look before looking further at my exhibit.
Fascinated by this issue, I have selected three stamps from my collection to give an idea of the variety. If you disagree with my identifications, have at me. I can always use help.
The stamp on the left is either a type Ic or a Type IIIa depending upon how complete one sees the curls in the bottom plumes. I see it as a Ic but my "expertiser" saw it as a IIIa. It is from plate four and most likely position 43R.
The center stamp has not been "expertised" but I believe it to be a Type II as the full design of top scrolls are visible and untrimmed while the bottom scrolls and balls are cut away. This type, Scott #7, is the most common of the 1851 one cent types. I also believe this copy to be from plate 3 due to the rich, deep coloring and to the specific configuration present at top and bottom.
The stamp on the right, also not "expertised" shows how closely the impressions for each stamp were initially entered . One can see the top of the lower row stamp almost touching the main impression. Because of the closeness of these impressions and the worn appearance of the impression, I believe this to be from Plate I. I am not able to identify a plate position but because of the almost complete top ornaments and the incomplete lower left side and broken bottom frame line, I think it to be a Type IIIA created by plate wear on what was originally a Type II impression.. There are 8 such recognized Type II/IIIA positions on Plate I . Unluckily, the cancellation is covering what I think to be a broken bottom frame line confirming the Type IIIa. The missing top line on the stamp just below shows it to be either a Type III or a IIIa so there's a good place to start researching a position.
My guesses about the above three stamps have evolved...and I think will evolve even further. Sounds complicated...but so much quality published study is available that identification is more like detective work than stamp collecting. Right or wrong, the guessing game is great fun. The advent of E Bay has been a great help since expertised stamps of the various types are often for sa;e and one can make comparisons previously unobtainable.
And, of course, there is always the possibility of finding the next great rarity stuck misidentified in a dealer's stock book. Now that would be fun.