All four of these issues are valuable. How do you tell the difference between them? It’s easier than you think.

Scott #1 and #2 were printed by Rawdon, Wright, Hatch, and Edson in 1847. Scott #3 and #4 were official reproductions made from 50 subject printing plates produced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. They were printed in 1875.

On Scott #1, look at the white shirt lace on the left side of the vignette. The top of the shirt lace touches the oval frame line and is aligned with the “F” of the word “Five”. On the reproduction, Scott #3, the top of the shirt lace touches the oval frame line even with the top edge of the numeral “5”.

On Scott #2, the left edge of Washington’s coat touches the oval frame line at what would be the middle of the “T” of the word “TEN”. On Scott #3, the left edge of the coat is shifted to the left and touches the oval frame line by the right side of the numeral “X”. On the reproduction, Washington’s eyes look sleepy.

There are other tiny differences between Scott #1 and #3 as well as #2 and #4. But the alignment differences are the most noticeable and should be easy to distinguish when you see the real items.

Mint copies of Scott #1 and #2 are $6750 and $35,000 in the Scott catalog. You can obtain no gum copies at about 33% of those prices. However, even no gum copies are beyond the means of most collectors.

Scott #3 and #4 are priced at $750 and $900 respectively. Still expensive, but they are an affordable alternative if you can’t own the originals. And they look just as nice in your collection.

Many collectors are interested in owning a copy of Scott #1 or #2 because they are the first US postage stamps produced by the US government. Fakes are known of both stamps. And be careful that you’re not buying a #3 or #4 by mistake.

Why are there no used copies of Scott #3 and #4? That’s easy. These official reproductions were not valid for postage. Therefore, no used copies should exist.