By Henry Gitner and Rick Miller
Before the 1908-1909 Washington-Franklin series, U.S. definitive (regular-issue) stamps had featured a variety of famous Americans as the subjects of stamps of different denominations.
The 1908-09 series whittled the list of subjects down to two: postmaster general, statesman, and Founding Father Benjamin Franklin; and commander of the Continental Army and first president of the United States George Washington.
The first group of stamps in the series (Scott 331-342) was perforated gauge 12 on paper double-line “USPS” watermark. The engraved 1¢ to 15¢ stamps were printed using plates of 400 subjects that were divided into panes of 100 for sale.
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The high-denomination 50¢ and $1 stamps were printed using plates of 200 subjects, also divided into panes of 100 for sale. This classic series has been a mainstay of U.S. collecting since the stamps were first issued.
Look for the blue-green 13¢ George Washington stamp (Scott 339), issued January 1909, in mint never-hinged condition.
The 2016 Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers values the stamp in the grade of very fine at $90. It is a good buy in the $60-to-$75 price range. Beware of examples that have been regummed or reperforated. Expertization is a good idea.