Informed Inspections Enable better Collecting Decisions

One of the starkest examples of brochure value differences for a common U.S. Stamp design is because that the many 1¢ Benjamin Franklin issued beginning in 1923 (design A155 in the Scott specialized Catalogue that United says & Covers). In 2018 alone, we have actually had almost 300 inquiries about of this design, even if it is by email, phone, fast ID, or in officially submissions made come the American Philatelic Expertizing service (APEX) because that authentication (Note: rapid ID is no longer an APS service).

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All inquirers hope they have actually the next large find of among the very valuable versions that this tiny 1¢ stamp, which deserve to sell because that prices in the low 6 figures. It’s a fact that there room unidentified rarities at big in the albums and stock books of the world, but it’s also a reality that real rarities are rare because there are few of them. Needless come say, many of those looking for a large payday in reality have common

In this column, we will aid you evaluation these 1¢ Franklin, to permit you to determine whether your is worth having certified. The graph at the bottom that the web page will administer some comparisons come be made for narrowing your possibilities:

One Cent Ben Franklin

The first inspection you should make is come look in ~ the back of the stamp. If over there are any green specks the ink, the stamp is a flat plate printing and also therefore is Scott 552, the unwatermarked 1¢ Franklin approve January 17, 1923. The most usual of every the “penny Franklin”, an ext than 4 billion the these were issued. An example is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 2 mirrors the horizontal and also vertical coil, Scott 597 and Scott 604. These arenot the expensive execution of this denomination, so friend can remove coil in ~ this allude ...

Figure 1. The most common of the 1¢ eco-friendly Franklin is this level plate-printed unwatermarked perf 11 definitive issued on January 17, 1923 – Scott 552.


Figure 2. The horizontal and vertical 1¢ eco-friendly Benjamin Franklin coil, Scott 597 and Scott 604, room not the expensive version of this denomination, so you can remove them from your search for rarities.
Figure 3. If the perfs measure up 11 by 10½, her 1-cent Franklin is this typical rotary press-printed stamp produced in 1927, Scott 632.

It’s time to measure perforations, and please do your finest to measure them without expectations. Confound perforations the gauge 10½ for actual gauge 11 perfs can set off such a thrill as to cloud the psychic of collectors and befuddle even the best of us.

If the perforation measurements are gauge 11 by 10½, walk no further: her stamp is Scott 632, a common rotary press-printed stamp developed in 1927, presented in Figure 3.

If girlfriend still have a rubber stamp or 2 in the to run at this point, as the british say, “Steady on!” (That’s the Queen’s English for “Calm down!”) However, if the perforations do undoubtedly measure 11 top top all 4 sides, that should lead you to rotate at critical to checking the dimensions of the stamp’s printed design.

An easy and also reliable way to perform that is to find a copy of the an initial stamp we eliminated, the unwatermarked flat plate-printed Franklin (Scott 552), and carefully cut a square the end of each corner of the design. This will certainly leave you through a cross-shaped checking overview (Figure 4) the you can use to detect the dimensions of any type of other of this 1¢ Franklin, like the one presented next come it below.



Figure 4. To develop a trusted checking overview for rarities, make details you have actually a copy of the very first stamp we eliminated, that unwatermarked level plate-printed perf 11 1c green Franklin (Scott 552), and also cut square the four corners that the very first stamp as presented here. Then acquire a plausible test topic − this unidentified rotary press-printed 1c eco-friendly Franklin.


Figure 5. Organize the check guide straight over the 1-cent Franklin you wish to examine so the the outer framelines that the 2 align. The check guide’s framelines will be much shorter in one dimension, as viewed horizontally here. This is not one of the perf 11 rotating press-printed Franklins, Scott 594 and 596, but a 1923 stamp from coil garbage perforated 11 by 10, Scott 578.

Lay the cross-shaped checking guide over any kind of other the the same design you have actually that are not flat-plate printed. The graph will provide you the dimensional parameters to small the possibilities for the rubber stamp you are checking.

Because level plates had actually to be very closely bent in order come fit snugly onto a rotary press, they became slightly much longer in the direction in i beg your pardon they to be bent, which is why the inked pictures of printed from such plates space slightly longer in the direction in which its plates to be bent.

Figure 5 mirrors the level plate-printed guide laid across the rotating press-printed test subject from Figure 4 so that the outer framelines that the 2 align. The check guide’s framelines will certainly be much shorter in one dimension, as checked out horizontally here. This is not among the perf 11 rotary press-printed Franklins, Scott 594 and also 596, however a 1923 rubber stamp from coil garbage perforated 11 by 10, Scott 578. It’s no retirement-worthy rarity, yet it’s not a rubber stamp to it is in sniffed in ~ either, cataloging $75.

Figure 6. The distinction in the size of the designs in between a level plate-printed and rotary press-printed 1¢ Franklin is ¼ millimeter. That’s about the exact same as the broad of the foot of the pillars that the Lincoln Memorial on a pre-2008 Lincoln penny like this one.

Since a quarter of a millimeter may be what decides whether your stamp has actually stupendous value, you should use a measuring machine that will be specific enough come render a clear analysis of that very tiny distance.

How tiny is it? A quarter-millimeter is 0.00984 of an inch. If friend can’t readily measure that, you have the right to use one more 1-cent guide: the foot that the pillars the the Lincoln Memorial on a pre-2008 Lincoln penny, shown in Figure 6. That is about the broad of the difference in architecture between a very few rare and also the an extremely many common 1¢ eco-friendly Franklin

A digital microscopic lense with a millimeter range may carry out that accuracy, as would certainly a digital or electronic caliper or sliding millimeter gauge. Work-related slowly and carefully and also for kindness sake, protect against sharp edges. The happiness of finding a beneficial gem will certainly be no consolation if you find that girlfriend just reduced a gash in it.

If, after all this, you efficiently narrow the choices of what among your can be to among the beneficial varieties, climate you should absolutely consider having it authenticated by APEX.

Note the we have not mentioned in this column exactly how fakers may shot to change these, leading to a “this looks favor Scott 596” stamp. We let the experts make the contact on through such alterations.

What Benjamin Franklin actually wrote in his 1758 Almanac to be “A penny conserved is a coin got.” yet precisely the right 1¢ Franklin sold for $190,000, Kansas City precancel and all, at the Siegel Galleries in new York City in 2018.

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Note: column revised as of February 2020.

This tower is featured on page 1166 of the December 2018 issue of The American Philatelist. APS members may view the entire issue online. The monthly magazine is just one that the countless benefits of member in the American Philatelic Society. Learn more and end up being a member today: