When identifying these stamps, you need a good magnifying glass of at least 5x power. These are designs A61 and A88 in the Scott catalog.
These stamps saw heavy use from the mid 1890ís and into the early 1900s. Approximately 27.5 billion stamps were printed using this design. Identification is straightforward when you take the time and examine the triangles.
Scott #219D and #220 do not have any triangles in the upper right and upper left corners. Color is the only thing that distinguishes these two stamps. The #219D is lake which is a very dark red. Scott #220 is carmine which is a bright red like many of the later issues with triangles.
The rest of the Scott numbers for this stamp design have small triangles in the upper left and right corners. There are 3 different types of triangles. The triangles have both an inner and outer frame line. These stamps have thin horizontal shading lines in the background. The difference in the triangles is how the shading lines between the two frame lines of the triangle compare to the shading lines used in the background of the stamp. Hereís how to tell them apart.
Type I triangles have shading lines that are of the same thickness as the background shading lines.
Type II triangles have shading lines that run through the triangles, but the lines through the triangles are thinner than the shading lines used for the background.
Type III triangles have no shading lines between the inner and outer frame lines. There are shading lines within the inner triangle though.
Scott #248-252 are unwatermarked. Scott #248, #249 and #250 all have the Type I triangle. The difference in these 3 stamps is in the color of ink. Scott #248 is pink. Scott #249 is lake which is very dark. Scott #250 is carmine. When you see these 3 colors side by side, the difference is very obvious. Scott #251 has the Type II triangle and Scott #252 has the Type III triangle.
Scott #265-267 are all double line watermarked. They are all carmine color. Scott #265 has the Type I triangle. Scott #266 has the Type II triangle. And Scott #267 has the Type III triangle.
Scott #279B is also double line watermarked. This is the Type IV which is very similar to the Type III. What makes Type IV different? There are 2 major characteristics. In Type IV, the hair in the center of the head is thicker and longer than in Type III. Also in Type IV, the toga button is kind of flat and wide whereas the toga button is taller in Type III. There are several other very subtle differences as well between Types III and IV.
Be careful of color variations. These stamps were the workhorse of the mail stream and printed many different times. Shades and other minor color varieties exist. However, the difference between pink, carmine, and lake should not fool anyone.
Here is the cheat sheet for these stamps
|Scott #||Triangles||Watermark||Color||Quantity printed||Percentage|
|248||Type I||Unwatermarked||Pink||40 million||0.15%|
|249||Type I||Unwatermarked||Lake||100 million||0.36%|
|250||Type I||Unwatermarked||Carmine||900 million||3.28%|
|251||Type II||Unwatermarked||Carmine||100 million||0.36%|
|252||Type III||Unwatermarked||Carmine||80 million||0.29%|
|265||Type I||Double Line||Carmine||300 million||1.09%|
|266||Type II||Double Line||Carmine||125 million||0.46%|
|267||Type III||Double Line||Carmine||7.5 billion||27.33%|
|279B||Type IV||Double Line||Red||12 billion||43.72%|
Iím including the estimated quantities printed of each of these for a reason. Look at the percentages of each stamp compared to the total quantity printed. Almost 44% of the stamps are Scott #279B, 23% of the stamps are #220 and another 27% are Scott #267. Those 3 stamps make up almost 94% of all of the stamps. If you have 100 unidentified 2Ę Washington stamps in front of you, about 6 of those 100 stamps are going to be something other than #220, #267, or #279B, assuming equal survival rates of these stamps. If your breakdown doesnít follow these approximate percentages, then you may have made an error in identification or you made an unusual find. Be careful.