These are mentioned in the Scott US Specialized catalog. What are they?
I could write volumes about these stamps. But I’m going to keep this very simple.
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) produced some specially designed rotary press printing plates of regular issue postage stamps. These were for the 1, 2, and 3 cent Washington-Franklin head issues. The stamps were printed and perforated in one direction for use as coils. For whatever reason, the stamps were not cut and wound into rolls of coil stamps. These sheets were deemed “waste” and intended for destruction.
In 1919, the BEP perforated these sheets of stamps the other direction and turned them into sheet stamps. Instead of destroying these stamps and wasting all of that time and money that went into producing them, they were salvaged for use as sheet stamps.
The practice continued up until about 1924. According to Ken Wood in “This is Philately, Volume 1 A-F”, Konwiser (American Stamp Collector's Dictionary) says that Arthur E. Owen led the philatelic community in having the BEP and USPOD stop this practice.
Some of these coil waste issues are very rare. Many of them are at least scarce. It takes a sharp eye to identify these issues. Maybe in a future piece, I’ll step through the identification of the coil waste issues.
The Scott numbers of the coil waste issues are:
538, 545, 578 and 594 (all 1˘ issues)
539, 540, 546, 579, and 595 (all 2˘ issues)
541 (the lone 3˘ issue)