Continuing on with the Washington-Franklin series, let's look at the 3¢ Washington head.
There are 4 different design types. Unfortunately I can't reproduce illustrations of the differences between the different types. A 5x or 10x magnifier should be sufficient for determining the differences. Here is a brief description of each one which should help:
Type I: The top line of the toga is very thin/light and may be broken. The line between the lips is thin.
Type II: The top line of the toga is very thick/dark and solid. The line between the lips is heavy.
Type III:The "P' and "O" of Postage have a thin line of ink between them and are not joined.
Type IV: The upper part of the "P" and the "O" of Postage are joined by white space.
Only one of the sheet stamps, #541, was rotary printed. It was made by adding perforations to leftover coil stamps, which is why it's perf 11x10. The stamp design is slightly larger than a flat plate printed stamp. The coil stamps were both flat plate and rotary printed.
The offset printed stamps are very distinct compared to the engraved stamps. The offset stamps do not have the raised ridges of ink like the engraved stamps. The detail is not as sharp on the offset stamps. The offsets really stick out when compared side by side to an engraved stamp.
To quickly identify the sheet stamps, first check the perforation and watermark. That will quickly narrow it to one or two stamps. The last step is to check the Type of the design if needed. The #359 is rare and deserves a certificate if you have one.
For the imperforate stamps, if it's watermarked in any way, it's definitely #345. For #483 and #484, you have to check the design type.
The perf 12 coil is the famous "Orangeburg" coil. There are many articles around about this rare coil. The perf 8.5 coil is easy to identify. The perfs are so largely spaced, it's difficult to find one with intact and sound perfs. Usually a few of the perfs are short when the coils were separated.
The perf 10 coils require checking the watermark first and then the stamp design. Be careful with the flat plate coil stamps. Fake coils are made by adding perforations to the imperforate sheet stamps or trimming the perforations off of sheet stamps with wide margins. Fakes exist for the rotary coils too, but they should be easier to spot. None of the imperf sheet stamps were printed by the rotary presses. Check the size of the stamp design and make sure it's the right size. Rotary stamps are a tiny bit larger than the flat plate stamps. The difference is subtle and may escape detection unless you carefully check the size of the stamp design on the rotary coils.
|359||I||12||Flat||Double line||Rare, "Bluish paper"|
|489||I||Coil, 10 horizontal||Rotary||Unwatermarked|
|389||I||Coil, 12 vertical||Flat||Single line||Very rare, "Orangeburg coil"|
|445||I||Coil, 10 vertical||Flat||Single line||Expensive|
|456||I||Coil, 10 vertical||Rotary||Single line||Expensive|
|493||I||Coil, 10 vertical||Rotary||Unwatermarked|
|494||II||Coil, 10 vertical||Rotary||Unwatermarked|
|394||I||Coil, 8.5 vertical||Flat||Single line||Moderately priced|
Unfortunately, identifying the 3¢ Washington heads is not as easy as some issues. This presents some challenges to collecting them. But that's part of the fun. You definitely need a perf gauge and watermark fluid for many of these issues. Good luck and happy hunting!