US Stamps

1898 Lincoln color variations

Apr 27, 2021, 5 PM

United States — In 1898, the United States Post Office Department issued a new set of definitives with colors arranged to comply with the Universal Postal Union’s color coding scheme. The stamps were perforated gauge 12 on paper watermarked double-line “USPS.”

The 4¢ rose-brown Abraham Lincoln stamp (Scott 280) was issued in October 1898. The 2015 Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers also lists and values a lilac-brown variety (280a) and an orange-brown variety (280b).

The Scott U.S. Specialized catalog values the major-number listed stamp and the two color varieties at $75 each in mint never-hinged condition and $25 in unused hinged condition, and they are all good buys at those prices. Although its catalog values are about three times those of the 1¢ and 2¢ stamps (Scott 279 and 279B) of this issue, the 4¢ is at least 50 times more scarce than the lower-value stamps.

As with most U.S. issues in this period, truly sound examples without defects in a grade of very fine or higher are much harder to find than might be expected. With three distinctly different shades to collect, this issue is a bargain at the Scott catalog value. Try putting together a set of all three of the shades in mint never-hinged or unused lightly hinged condition.

When buying, don’t confuse this stamp with the 1894 4¢ dark brown stamp perforated gauge 12 on unwatermarked paper (Scott 254) or the 1895 4¢ dark brown stamp (269).

A Linn’s editor did not find this week’s recommended stamps on

Nicaragua — The market for Nicaraguan stamps issued in the 1930s seems to be very strong. Recently, we have seen never-hinged examples of stamps and sets with 2015 Scott Classic Specialized Catalogue of Stamps and Covers 1840-1940 values of $1 to $1.20 selling for $15 to $26 after spirited bidding by multiple bidders.
While we can’t believe that these are regularly sustainable prices, we know that they are not the result of speculation.
What is clear is that Nicaraguan stamps of this era, especially those that have been overprinted or surcharged, are elusive in mint never-hinged condition and are worth considerably more than anyone reviewing their catalog values might expect. Unfortunately, the Scott catalog editors have few price lists on which to base their catalog values. There are no active specialist dealers for this area, and auctions rarely offer inexpensive sets such as these.
A good example is the 1933 set of four overprinted and surcharged airmail stamps (Scott C106-C109). With a catalog value for the set of $1.20 in unused hinged condition, mint never-hinged sets have recently sold for $26 or more. This is a good area to explore because it is under the radar of most collectors and dealers. If you find sets from this era in mint never-hinged condition, don’t hesitate to pay more than Scott catalog value for them.