In 1908, the USPOD issued two stamps with a new design. Both stamps had the denomination in words instead of numerals. The one cent stamp had the bust of Ben Franklin. The two cent stamp had the bust of George Washington. These stamps are still part of the Washington-Franklin head series. However, because the denominations are in words instead of numerals, their identification is a little easier. The USPOD switched to a design with numerals in 1912.
Identification of these stamps is relatively easy. All of them can be identified by checking the perforation size and/or watermark. There are only 3 sheet stamps, 2 imperforate stamps, and a half dozen coil issues.
|1¢ Scott #||2¢ Scott #||Style||Perforations||Watermark||Notes|
|357||358||Sheet||12||Double line||The 1909 "China Clay" issue with bluish paper, scarce|
|348||349||Coil||12 Vertically||Double line||Moderately priced|
|385||386||Coil||12 Vertically||Single line||Rare|
|390||391||Coil||8.5 Vertically||Single line||Moderately priced|
|352||353||Coil||12 Horizontally||Double line||Moderately priced|
|387||388||Coil||12 Horizontally||Single line||#387 is Moderately priced, #388 is Rare|
|392||393||Coil||12 Horizontally||Single line||Moderately priced|
|---||519||Coil||12 Horizontally||Double line||Made in 1917 from leftover imperforate sheets, 2¢ only, rare|
The sheet stamps and the imperforate stamps are very common, cataloging a few dollars each at the most. Of course, the bluish papers of 1909 (some collectors still call these the "China Clay" issues but that's a misnomer) are scarce. The paper is actually about 35% rag stock and it has a grayish-blue appearance, almost a dirty appearance.
On a side note, the sheet stamps (#331, #332 and #374, #375) were also produced in booklet panes of six. Mint and used single stamps from the booklet panes are common. Full booklet panes are moderately priced. Used full booklet panes are worth substantially more than mint panes. Why? These were some of the first booklet stamps produced. Many collectors ignored them because they had straight edges. Very few full panes were used.
Scott #519 was produced in 1917 from leftover imperforate sheets of the 2¢ stamp. Used copies of #519 are rare and worth about four times as much as mint copies. These were made during World War I. To reduce waste, the USPOD simply perforated the supply of imperforate sheets. However, the standard gauge of perforations had changed from 12 to 11 between 1908 and 1917. Unlike today, there was no announcement about these "new" stamps by the USPOD and they went unnoticed until collectors discovered them.
The USPOD originally used double line watermarked paper in 1908. In 1910, the switch was made to single line watermark paper. The double line watermark is much larger and its placement covered much more of the stamp. The single line watermark is much smaller and its placement only covers a small area of the stamp. On some stamps, the single line watermark only grazes the stamp edge. If you're having trouble finding the watermark on a particular stamp, it's most likely the single line watermark variety. The double line watermarks usually show up quickly in watermark fluid.
Beware of fakes on all of the coil issues, especially Scott #388 which is one of the most often faked coil stamps. None of the coils are cheap. Thanks to the imperforate stamps, the fakers had an ample supply of stamps to add perforations to in order to make their fakes. Perforations on the 8.5 coils are often times uneven. Separation is more difficult due to the large amount of paper between the stamps.
That's it! We tamed yet another section of the Washington-Franklin head issues. Good luck and happy hunting!