By Henry Gitner and Rick Miller
The highest face-value stamps issued by the United States to pay a postage fee are the 1895 and 1896 $100 purple Indian Maiden newspaper stamps (Scott PR113 and PR125).
The stamp designs are identical, but the stamp issued in 1895 is on unwatermarked paper, while the stamp issued Jan. 23, 1896, is on paper watermarked with a double-line “USPS.” Both stamps are perforated gauge 12.
The 2016 Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers values the 1895 stamp at $3,500 in unused original gum condition and at $7,000 in used condition, with the later value in italics.
However, the stamp on watermarked paper (Scott PR125) is valued at only $65 in unused original gum condition and at $275 in used condition (listed in italics in the catalog).
The stamp is a good buy at those prices, in whichever condition that you prefer. However, we think it is an even better buy in mint never-hinged condition at the Scott catalog value of $150.
The complete set is really worth buying. We think these newspaper stamps are America’s most beautiful stamps, on par with the 1898 $1 Trans-Mississippi Cattle in Storm stamp (Scott 292).
If you already have this $100 Indian Maiden newspaper stamp, double check your example for the watermark. If it is misidentified, you will be handsomely rewarded.