This is one of the most difficult stamps to identify due to the many different varieties.

These stamps were printed by flat plate, rotary, and offset printing presses. The flat plate stamps are about .25 to .5 smaller in size than the rotary printed stamps. The offset issues are easy to identify because they have more of a fuzzy or dull appearance and lack the crisp engraved lines like rotary and flat plate printed stamps.

Unfortunately, I can't show illustrations here. You will find illustrations of the various types in the Scott catalog Here are the distinguishing characteristics of each type.

Type I has one vertical shading line in the outer scroll above the left "2" and on the inner scroll above the right "2". The shading line above the toga is very thin and weak. The top right berry only has one tiny dot of ink inside. This is found primarily on the flat plate printed stamps.

Type Ia is similar, but the shading line on top of the toga is thicker and more clear. This is found only on flat plate printed stamps.

Type II is only found on rotary printed stamps. The shading line on the sideburn has a vertical line that attaches them.

Type III is found on rotary stamps. There are now two vertical shading lines in the scrolls above the number "2". The right hand berry in the top right of the design has more ink in a "V" shape.

Types IV and later types are only found on the offset printed stamps.

Type IV has the lines in the toga joined and they form the word "DID" with the first "D" being reversed. The third shading line above the nostril has 6 dots of ink. The shading lines on the upper lip are formed from hour horizontal lines of two dots of ink. The base of the left 2 is very thin and sometimes broken.

In Type V, the vertical lines in the toga are not connected.

In Type Va, the third horizontal shading line above the nostril only has 4 dots of ink.

Type VI, the base of the left "2" is very thick.

Type VII, the base of the left "2" is thick, but not as thick as Type VI. Also, the shading lines in the upper lip are arranged in four horizontal rows of 3 dots of ink.

Scott #Printing Type Perforations WatermarkNotes
406 Flat I 12 Single line
461 Flat I 11 Single line Used copies are more valuable than mint
499 Flat I 11 Unwatermarked
500 Flat Ia 11 Unwatermarked Scarce
546 Rotary III 11 Unwatermarked Scarce, coil waste issue
539 Rotary II 11x10 Unwatermarked Rare
540 Rotary III 11x10 Unwatermarked
425 Flat I 10 Single line
423E Flat I 10x12 Single line Only 1 used copy known
423B Flat I 12x10 Single line Very rare
463 Flat I 10 Unwatermarked
409 Flat I Imperf Single line
482 Flat I Imperf Unwatermarked
482A Flat Ia Imperf Unwatermarked Very rare, all known copies have private perfs, Schermack Type III
442 Flat I Coil, 10 vertical Single line Used copies are more valuable than mint
449 Rotary I Coil, 10 vertical Single line Rare
450 Rotary III Coil, 10 vertical Single line
487 Rotary II Coil, 10 vertical Unwatermarked
488 Rotary III Coil, 10 vertical Unwatermarked
411 Flat I Coil, 8.5 vertical Single line
459 Rotary I Imperf Single line Used copies are more valuable than mint
413 Flat I Coil, 8.5 horizontal Single line
444 Flat I Coil, 10 horizontal Single line
453 Rotary I Coil, 10 horizontal Single line
454 Rotary II Coil, 10 horizontal Single line
455 Rotary III Coil, 10 horizontal Single line
491 Rotary II Coil, 10 horizontal Unwatermarked Scarce
492 Rotary III Coil, 10 horizontal Unwatermarked
526 Offset IV 11 Not applicable
527 Offset V 11 Not applicable
528 Offset Va 11 Not applicable
528A Offset VI 11 Not applicable
528B Offset VII 11 Not applicable
532 Offset IV Imperf Not applicable
533 Offset V Imperf Not applicable
534 Offset Va Imperf Not applicable
534A Offset VI Imperf Not applicable
534B Offset VII Imperf Not applicable Rare

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to manage all of the 2 cent Washington heads. They are one of the most complex issues to identify due to all of the different varieties. It takes work, patience, and sometimes a process of elimination to identify which stamp you have.

Be careful of fakes, especially on the more expensive items. Because the imperforate issues are so inexpensive, its easy to add perforations to one of those in order to produce a more expensive coil or sheet stamp. A certificate of authenticity from one of the recognized expertizing services is in order.

The single line watermark is often times very weak or the layout of it shows only a small part of the watermark on a stamp. Some stamps that look unwatermarked will actually have a watermark that is just difficult to see.