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Stamps (Philately)/franklin oval 2 cent red



I have found a red oval 2 cent stamp with Ben Franklin embossed.  I have been looking around and I saw that it is normally part of an envelope and people cut out the stamp.  I also saw that if they are cut to shape the value is even less.

However, I have stared at this for a while and scanned and zoomed in on it and it does not seem to have been cut from an envelope (or if it has, then someone did a REALLY great job of it.  The coloring and shape are completely uniform around the entire outside edge).

So I thought I would do some more digging in case this one is different from most others for some reason.


ANSWER: Hi Jarrod, can you send me a high definition photo or scan of the piece?
So far, you are quite right.  Postal stationary cut to shape is like having a stamp with a giant crease and a thin in terms of how it diminishes its value.

But let's have a look.  I have a feeling I may know what's going on but need to see it.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

franklin 2 cent
franklin 2 cent  
QUESTION: Thanks.  Here's the image

Hi Jarrod,
  This is a design U91 Die 4, Scott #U411.  While a bit soiled it does appear in this image as unused.  That's the good news.
  Now the not so great news.  This is one of the later postal stationary pieces, with U91 Die 4 entering use around 1910.  As a cut square it would have a catalog value of 65cents (a $1.25 if it was entire envelope).  So not a piece of great value.
  The embossing shows easily as the bright white lines in Washington's pony tail, and down the shirt color.  We can tell this is a Die 4 by looking at the front of the bust (complete, sharp corner at top edge), while the lettering is very uniform an neat, especially in the "S"s, and the very clean clarity of the inner oval around Washington's figure.  This is a piece on white, which occurs only in the #U411.  This is no where near dark enough background to be amber or buff which are the other two options for the U91 Die 4.
  Looking at the cut to shape, it clearly is just a nice job.  The easiest place to see variation is in the outside edge just below the C in "Cents", and upper left just above the D in "United".

These postal stationary pieces can be tricky.  But one of the best ways to see the embossing is scan it and look for the white lines, or dip it in lighter fluid (won't hurt it, you can also use watermark fluid which is just re-badged lighter fluid...).  When it is drying, these lines will "flash" white for a few seconds.  But in this scan, the bright lines created are clear indication of the embossing.
Hope that helps.

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Scott Payton


My expertise is in US, but I have a lot of exposure to worldwide, and with wide reference material, I will do what I can to answer questions about global stamps. In US I have extensive experience in all aspects (does include Administrative overprints for Cuba, China, Puerto Rico etc.). Also, Hawaii general issue and Revenue (pre-statehood). Of course still building knowledge but have been collecting since 1980. Air Mail is a favorite area, but not a limitation. Two specialty areas are Large Banknote issues, and Washington/Franklin identification. Strong experience in Carrier & Locals, Private Die (Also known as M&M for "Match & Medicine" but also includes some playing card and perfume stamp issues.) Recently have been building more back-of-book experience, especially around Official, Newspaper, Revenue and tax editions. Some covers, and cancellations, but not my strong suit. Another area I'm recently diving into. What I can't do: Anything non-US, as it's just not an area I focus on.


30+ years of learning the hard way. A lot of passion for collecting and dealing (as I do both). I don't consider it a hobby... I consider it a serious pursuit that I'm able to do in the hours I'm not occupied by annoying things like sleep. I work closely with some of the global leaders in the expertizing and identification field. Have co-authored several papers (with Mr. William Weiss Jr.) related to identification, as well as tool set to help with quickly identifying the more challenging areas of Washington Franklin. Strong experience in paper types and coil validation.

Member of APS #222356.

1870 - 1879 Large Banknote Issues - Easy Identification (co-authored with William Weiss Jr). Washington-Franklin - Easy Identification (co-authored with William Weiss Jr.) Detecting Fakes, Alterations and Counterfeits (APS Summer Session Expertizing Session materials with William Weiss Jr.)

Thousands and thousands of hours of pouring over hundreds of collections. 30+ years as a collector-to-dealer, avid student of philatelic study. Pre-1900 variation is fascinating, and it seems even after all these years, that I make some discovery every time I look at a new example. APS Summer Session - Fundamentals of Expertizing 2014

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