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.
|461||Flat||I||11||Single line||Used copies are more valuable than mint|
|546||Rotary||III||11||Unwatermarked||Scarce, coil waste issue|
|423E||Flat||I||10x12||Single line||Only 1 used copy known|
|423B||Flat||I||12x10||Single line||Very rare|
|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|
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, it’s 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.